Travel Writing 101: How To Build A Full-Time Career as a Travel Writer | Rosie Bell | Skillshare

Travel Writing 101: How To Build A Full-Time Career as a Travel Writer

Rosie Bell, Writer, editor & entrepreneur

Travel Writing 101: How To Build A Full-Time Career as a Travel Writer

Rosie Bell, Writer, editor & entrepreneur

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15 Lessons (2h 3m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:08
    • 2. The Perks & Perils of The Job

      6:08
    • 3. Travel Bloggers VS Travel Journalists

      4:03
    • 4. Finding Your First Clients

      7:55
    • 5. Magazines, Newspapers & Publishers You Can Write For

      5:50
    • 6. The Art of Pitching

      27:20
    • 7. Finding Story Ideas & Unique Angles

      11:11
    • 8. Writing Great Articles & Stories

      20:55
    • 9. Freelancing Finances & Administration

      17:47
    • 10. To Niche or Not to Niche?

      4:50
    • 11. Notes on Travel Blogging

      3:37
    • 12. FAMs & Press Trips

      3:43
    • 13. Useful Resources

      0:37
    • 14. 11 Travel Writing Commandments

      4:52
    • 15. 15 Class Project

      1:35
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About This Class

Have you always wanted to be a travel writer, but unsure of what it involves or how to break into the industry?

Wondered how to write great travel stories that captivate and inspire readers to answer the call of elsewhere?

Would you like to learn about the business side of travel writing, finding your first clients, press trips and sending pitches?

Travel writing is an eclectic mix of business and the creative. It's a prized and often-misunderstood profession and this class will help you unpick it.

 During this class you’ll learn about:

  • Finding clients
  • Magazines, newspapers and publishers you can write for
  • Travel blogging
  • How to write pitches and sell yourself
  • What press trips are all about and how to organize one
  • The anatomy of a great travel story
  • How to find story ideas and unique angles
  • The perks and perils of the job
  • The difference between travel bloggers and travel journalists
  • Freelancing finances and administration
  • Why it's been called the greatest job in the world

Upon completion of this class, you’ll have a definitive blueprint for building a career as a full-time travel writer.

Please note: The downloadable Excel sheet can be found underneath the course video in the tab called "Projects & Resources". It's to the right of "Discussions" and "Reviews".

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Rosie Bell

Writer, editor & entrepreneur

Teacher

Hi there! My name is Rosie Bell and I'm a location-independent writer, editor and author of ‘Escape to Self’ and ‘The Art & Business of Travel Writing’. I offer workshops and online courses on writing, freelancing, entrepreneurship and run DiscoverySessions.io, a life design brainstorming studio.

 

I regularly write about travel and life design for reputable publications on both sides of the Atlantic including Forbes Travel Guide, BBC Travel, BBC Worklife, HuffPost, Brides, Fodor’s, Hemispheres and Lonely Planet, and have appeared as a travel and life design expert on the likes of ABC News, NBC News, Scandinavian Traveler and South China Morning Post. 

 

My mission (and greatest p... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: It's been called the greatest job in the world. Travel writing is an alluring mix of business and the creative, a priced and often misunderstood profession. I'm here to help you discover it. My name is Rosie Bell and I'm a full time travel writer, editor, and author. My writing has appeared in Lonely Planet, Forbes Travel Guide, BBC, [inaudible] Huff Post, and various in-flight magazines. I've appeared as a travel expert on the likes of NBC News and ABC News. I have an above average pitch acceptance rate and I've been fortunate enough to have traveled to over 100, alluring global destinations. This class is perfect for beginners and aspiring professional travel writers. With the focus on freelance travel writing, this class will benefit anyone looking to improve their skills, break into the industry, and understand the business side of things. This class will teach you the steps to build a career out of your passion and you'll get answers for some of the most pressing questions about travel writing like how to find your first clients and what a pitch is. You'll learn how to pitch stories to editors and get examples of successful pitches, templates, and pitching guidelines from various publications. I'll provide an extensive list of places your writing can get published, including magazines, newspapers, and online publications. We'll explore the perks and perils of the job, tips for finding story ideas and unique angles, the difference between travel bloggers and travel journalists, and learn about press trips, and working with tourism boards. We'll also take a detailed look at freelancer finances and the admin tasks that will keep your writing business afloat. No stone will be left unturned. Most importantly, this course will introduce you to the art of telling travel tales and disclose the key ingredients to writing stories that captivate and inspire readers to answer the call of elsewhere. An Excel worksheet will be provided for you with additional resources, exercises, and space for you to take notes as you go along. If you're ready to learn about the beautiful art and business of travel writing, let's go. 2. The Perks & Perils of The Job: If you're a travel writer, consider yourself the object of envy of the likes of Mick Jagger and Drew Barrymore, who've both said they'd be travel writers if they weren't writing high in film and music. As a travel writer, you build up a library of experiences that many can only dream about. Especially, in the case of geographically fluid remote travel writers, it's a blessing to have the world as your oyster and get paid to bite into it. There's freedom, prestige, and free trips. So what's not to love? The rewards are plenty, but it's important to understand what travel writing is and what it's not. Let's look at some of the perks and perils of the travel writing profession now. The perks. One of the most obvious benefits at this job is that you can do it from anywhere. You can escape winter forever if you feel like it and choose to get lost in Bali or Bangkok. You don't have time to dread Mondays because you could be in Medellin at a fabulous co-working space or sipping Mai Tais in Mexico. When composing travel stories, you have to report the hard facts, but you also have a lot of creative freedom to dazzle with your words, unlike many other forms of nonfiction writing. Travel writing also has a romantic element because it touches on the importance of making the most of our short time on earth. Knowing that there are people out there in the big wide world who are inspired to go and see it because of your words is also a very special feeling. Travel writing also makes you a better traveler because you're forced to ask questions and view things with heights and curiosity, look closer, take notes, and reflect on your experiences. The barriers to entry for travel are very low. You don't require any upfront monetary investment. You're not selling a physical product and you have no stock weighing you down. Now, onto the perils. For all its glamour, being a travel writer is still a job at the end of the day and life isn't a bed of roses. The low barriers to entry also mean there are a lot of entrance who are lured by the aforementioned riches. Many people lust after their travel writer life. So it's competitive. People are willing to work for free or practically, free, which, ultimately, drives rates down as a whole. There are fewer pages that need filling than the number of people who would like to fill those pages. As with most attractive profession, there's a lot of hard work involved, certainly at the beginning. While there might be blue cocktails and the white sand, working as a professional travel writes requires grit, a [inaudible] patience, and acres of determination. Travel writing isn't really a career you get into for the money. There are easier and faster ways to get rich. Sometimes, pay rates are so shockingly low, but they might as well not even offer any. Going in, be very realistic what the pitfalls of this career and money is one of them. Some people are genuinely making very decent money and it is possible to earn a good living, but you might need to supplement your earnings with income from other endeavors, particularly, when you're starting out and building your portfolio. Jobs are unsteady and pay cycles vary from company to company. It'll be up to you to plan for rainy days. There's also a lot of unscrupulous advice out there on how to make six figures and travel the world for free forever. So do watch out. Something else people don't realize about travel writing is that you'll be pitching a lot. Sometimes opportunities will come to you, particularly, once you've built reputation or carved out a certain niche for yourself. I have been offered a lot of work in Panama because I had a constant stream of high-ranking articles about it. However, for the most part, you'll spend a lot of time pitching. Even if you have a full time staff position, you're simply always pitching something in this business. Keep this in mind if pitching isn't something you enjoy. I'll go into detail about what pitching is later on in lesson 4. If you're someone that's easily discouraged or doesn't like rejection and criticism, freelance writing might be hard for you because that's part and parcel of this game. The perfect idea that lives in your head might just be another less than perfect email in an editor's inbox. Editors are the gatekeepers of making your dreams a reality and this job is largely about getting them to want you. The fact that the job gives you so much freedom also means that you have to be very flexible and adaptable. You might have to wait for months to find out if you'll be going on that press strip. You may not be able to confirm that you'll be going to a friend's wedding or to a family event until you get confirmation from a PR rep. A lot goes into organizing trips and you have to plan very far in advance when working with tourism boards. Magazines also work to very long lead times. If you have a story that's perfect for summer, you'll need to start pitching it before spring. Travel writing is roughly 20 percent writing and 80 percent admin, sending invoices, chasing invoices, writing pitches, following up on pitches, and tracking your expenses. Contrary to popular belief, you're not actually traveling all the time. You often need breaks to recalibrate and write all the stories that you've accumulated after a trip. Patience will come up over and over again in this course. You will require lots of it because weeks, months, and even years may pass by from the moment a story idea pops into your head to the day it gets published, and when you get paid for it. There's a lot of curiosity around travel writing, and it's not a very straight forward profession. So get ready for lots of questions regarding what you do. People will often ask how you afford to travel so much, how much money you make, and if you really spend all your time by the pool, and my personal favorite, are you always on holiday? On the topic of holidays. Traveling for an assignment looks, smells, and feels like a holiday, but it isn't. You might be in a fabulous resort in the Caribbean, where you want nothing more than to play with all the available water toys, but you're not on vacation and therefore, you can't enjoy that resort as if you were. Travel writing isn't just seeing the world at someone else's expense. You have deliverables and you have to stay focused and disciplined to complete whatever tasks you're expected to. At the end of the day, a travel writer is just a writer with more passport stamps and checked bucket list items. Travel writers face writer's block, missed deadlines, burnout, and all the other great conundrums that plague freelancers and the self-employed. 3. Travel Bloggers VS Travel Journalists: A recurring question in the field of travel rising is, what's the difference between a travel blogger and a travel journalist? Simply put, travel bloggers, write for blogs which are usually their own. They write for themselves and often use social media to market their brands. Travel journalists write for newspapers and magazines and have delineated editorial guidelines to follow. In many cases, journalism and blogging overlap, and you don't have to be one or the other. Many journalists write for pay publications, think CNN travel, Vogue, and the planet. But they also have a personal blog or an online travel magazine that they run too. Many bloggers also create a blog with the intent of becoming a full-time journalist and getting a byline from one of those big names like CNN travel, Vogue, and the only planet. A byline is the name of the writer appearing in the published piece by the way. There's somewhat of a war of words between the two camps and one might wonder what the big deal is as everyone's creating travel content at the end of the day. The main differences between bloggers and journalists lie in style, ethics, and money. Journalists are bound by different ethical codes than bloggers are. In many cases, a magazine won't allow us journalists to accept any free accommodation or services as this may skew the opinion or tamper with the ability to be impartial. The New York Times is famously strict about this as is BBC Travel. Bloggers, on the other hand, are free to work with any tourism boards, hotels, or even ice cream shops they would like to, or that they envisage would be appealing for their blogs audience. They can also demand whatever fee that they want for their privilege. A journalist working on a story for travel and leisure magazine can't demand money from a hotel to stay there as they're representing the magazine. Bloggers are often social media stars that caught readers and the public, whereas Journalists, caught editors. Journalists are largely anonymous. Most people would be very hard-pressed to recall the name of their favorite journalist. Bloggers tend to be more recognizable personalities who share details about their lives and their travels. Instagram is a big part of travel blogging though it should be noted that having a presence on Instagram isn't the be-all and end-all of your travel writing career. You aren't a failure if you don't have followers in the thousands or millions, whether you're a blogger or not. Norie Quintos who was the editor at large for one of the biggest names and travel National Geographic doesn't have many Instagram followers at all and some brands do work with micro influencers and [inaudible] influencers. That is bloggers with very small audiences. Regarding style, a journalists work will most likely go through layers of editing and can therefore be perceived to be of higher quality. Magazines and newspapers have rigid editorial guidelines and they're staffed by people who've undergone specific training to lend those jobs be it an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in journalism, creative writing, or perhaps English. Bloggers have a lot more leeway regarding informality, style, tone, and content. Staff writers versus freelancers now. As a travel journalist, you can either work in-house with a magazine or newspaper or as a freelancer. These in-house jobs are few and far between and it's hard to break in with a paid job unless you intern first. A staff job has obvious benefits like salary, security, and insurance, and you'll make great contacts. The downside is that you might not get as much freedom regarding what you write and you may not be able to spend as much time on the road as you want to because you have an office to go to every day. Print departments have shrunk considerably with the rise of the Internet as a publishing platform. In the US, a quarter of all newsroom jobs are said to have disappeared between 2008 and 2018. Editors are relying on freelancers more than ever. Freelancers have the fabulous ability to decide how much, how little, and who they work for and where. The obvious downside is never knowing where your next paycheck is coming in or who's going to be gracious enough to give it to you. 4. Finding Your First Clients: Everyone has to start somewhere. Your absolute favorite writer started somewhere too. The good news is that there are now more ways to get published than ever before. So many sites online are hungry for content these days. The bad news is that there are also a lot of people turning out content and for free. At the start of your career is really the only time it's acceptable to work for free, or almost for free. When you're starting out and thinking of getting paid to write that very first paycheck, no matter how little it is, is very powerful to create a mind shift whereby you truly believe you're a writer. In order to get writing work though, you'll need to show evidence of your writing, which can be hard when you're starting out and don't have a portfolio yet. But there are lots of ways to get your first writing job paid or unpaid. There are no editorial approval sites. If you don't have a writing portfolio yet, look to places that you can publish without an editorial approval like Medium. You can just create your accounts and write, using their very simple publishing platform and voila, you can even create your own branded Medium publication that you use as a microphone to sound off about your opinions and build credibility in your niche. If you have one. Medium also has a partner program that you can sign up for where you get paid according to how many Medium members read your stories. Don't just publish and pre-readers come though. Engage with other members, follow-up publications and clap on the articles that you enjoy. For the uninitiated clapping is Mediums version of the like button. Guest blogging and sites with little to no pay. Sites that don't pay much often accept newbie writers through us and are therefore a good stepping stone to accumulate clips. Clips, by the way, is just another word for your published work. For your reference, some such sites are epicureandculture.com, escapees.com, goworldtravel.com, listverse.com, myitchytravelfeet.com, she'swanderful.com, theexpeditioner.com, travelettes.net, travelmag, vergemagazine, and wearetravel girls. If you wanted to write about female travel, for instance, you could pitch to travel let's, we are travel girls or she's wonderful, which pays $ 50 per post. Read your favorite blogs and check out their contribute or work with us pages to see if they accept guest posts. If they do, reach out to them outlining what you would like to write about. If your pitch is accepted, your article may be written for them on a contribution basis, meaning that you won't be paid. If it's on a higher authority site or a blog that you really respect and admire, it could be worth it just to get that exposure. There are also travel writing scholarships and competitions. My very first paid client was broke nomads. They pay $ 0.50 per word and they famously commissioned new writers. They also have an annual travel writing scholarship. Every year, a handful of aspiring writers are taken to some resplendent corner of the world to learn the tricks of the travel writing trade with established traveler writers is like Tim Neville, who frequently contributes to the New York Times. The winners get a published article, free flights, accommodation, and endless snippets of wisdom. Other available travel writing scholarships include the brac travel guides, new travel writer of the year competition which has been running for two decades, National geographic's annual travel writing competition and Matador network often has contest to win prizes like writers retreats and novelty travel jobs. Don't just think about websites and magazines. Be proactive and reach out to people like CEO's executives and big whigs who would probably like to publish content on LinkedIn, but don't have the time to. Offer to go straight for them. Linkedin only lets you send a message to someone when you've connected to them. Add them as a connection first with a little cover note to increase the chances of accepting you. Otherwise, sign up for a 30-day trial of LinkedIn premium, and then you can send up to 20 e-mails to anybody during your trial month for free. Cold pitching is perfectly acceptable within freelance writing. Find companies that align with what you want to write about and offer them your services. You can also look into social media content creation. People want optimized captions for their Instagram photos and even goes to written tweets. That's a thing. Within Facebook groups, you can offer your services too, people are starting new businesses every single day and there's always demand for writers. Every company needs words, but not everyone is a wordsmith. Knowing how to write well is a prized skill. You can also use the gig websites. Offering your services on Fiverr exposes you to more than 5.5 million buyers. You can create bespoke gigs and offer to write absolutely anything and you don't have to charge just $ 5 as the name of this site would suggest. Some people make a lot of money from gigs on Fiverr, but not everyone has the staying power required to a mass tons of reviews and build a solid profile there from scratch. It's going to take you a lot of $ 20 articles to make a living from freelance writing, and if you got into this for the freedom, you won't feel very liberated while you are tied to your laptop, turning out low paying articles. Other gig economy sites are Upwork and Freelancer.com, where you can bid for projects. Be an undercover novice, find ways to dress up your lack of experience and by no means should you ever highlight your shortcomings to an editor. When pitching, say, feel free to have a look at my latest byline. Even if it's your only byline. Consider your non writing experience too, capitalize on your previous professional expertise, whether you an accountant or an architect, can you re-purpose that experience and leverage it into a niche way to think about personal finance on the road or design. Focus on what you can do and what you want to offer now, some other skills that travel writers need are organization, long-term planning, imagination and research skills. If you had a job, that already required these things, your are gold. Highlight this when putting yourself forward. You can also create your own job. As mentioned, staff jobs at magazines and newspapers are hard to come by. If you would like to write steadily for a client, find a client that needs a steady flow of articles. Look on the websites of hotels and even hostels. Could you offer to manage their blog if they have one and if they don't, could you create it? Make it easy for people to find you and read your work. Build yourself a website where you shop from the rooftops about what a great writer you are, all your accolades, what you're good at and what you write about. Showcase your personality on the about page and have a work with me or hire me page that lists all the services you offer, even if you've never been paid for any of them yet, remember to maintain the site and update it with your clips as they come in. You can also create a blog that places you as an expert in the field that you want to work in. For instance, legendary travel writer Ralph Pots has an amazing blog with articles and over 200 interviews with other travel writers, which places him right in the center of the field. Don't forget to use your network. Word of mouth is very powerful. Tell people about your goals and they can in turn, spread the word that you're looking for new clients. You can also ask friends, family members, or even people within your network if you can do some work for their business. Patience is a virtue. There are writers who have been at it for decades and they've won all the awards. But an editor somewhere will want the story that you have to tell. You can get published without hundreds of bylines. Don't get intimidated by the established voices and don't invest in envy. Be patient and believe that your time will come. Finally, dream big. If you want to write for the New York Times pitch, the New York Times. Don't be scared to approach the big dogs when you're starting out. Getting a prestigious byline will set you up for your future writing career. You'll be able to get more work, prestige, and money from saying you work for the BBC, than for actually writing for the BBC. 5. Magazines, Newspapers & Publishers You Can Write For: Some journalists prefer to be called writers with a focus on travel and lifestyle rather than travel writers. This is because they feel it allows them to write about a wider range of subjects than just travel. There are a lot of places the published travel content though. Let's start with magazines and news publications. Specialist travel print magazines should naturally be your focus sooner rather than later as they exist to publish the exact content you want to create. Generally speaking, pay rates are higher for print features versus online writing. Print magazines have different departments for which they need different types of stories. Research the magazine before you reach out to them and know that publication inside out. What's sections do they have? What's their point of view and tone? What kind of articles do they and don't they publish? Back issues can almost always be found online so you can study the sections and also look up their masthead to see who works there. For the in-flight magazines, be sure to check where they fly before you pitch. An in-flight magazine won't publish a story on Chicago if they don't fly there. The three sections of the magazine are the front of book, the middle of the book, and the back of the book. The middle has those meaty, extra long articles accompanied by prolific images. The back often has classified promotions and miscellaneous bits and bobs. If you're just starting out, you probably have a better chance of breaking into magazines by writing for the front of books section. It's the section at the beginning that tends to have shorter pieces of 150-400 words. You might have to write a couple of these before you graduate to the middle of the magazine. For the longer narrative features, it's trickier for an editor to assign a newbie writer or who they haven't worked with before. Monthly and quarterly magazines worked very long lead times. If you're writing about something that's super trendy right now, it probably won't be hot anymore by the time the issue with your story in it goes to print. Magazines want to feel like they're ahead of the curve. So this is something to keep in mind when pitching story ideas, particularly ones that are time-sensitive. Newspapers have much shorter lead times, so feel free to send news story ideas their way as soon as they come to you. This varies massively from paper to paper and country to country. But some newspapers do publish travel stories, some don't, and others have a Sunday travel supplement where your story has a higher chance of seeing the light of day. Guidebooks now. The dream for many trouble writers is to work on one of those instantly recognizable blue Lonely Planet guidebooks. You'll usually only write a guidebook if you know a destination extremely well as it's an informative reference document after all. Writing for guidebooks is a very different kind of writing. A lot of what you do is exhaustive research, looking at minute details and fact checking. This is very good for very detail-oriented people because you have to be tremendously accurate about facts. A guidebook writer is primarily a provider of information. Backpackers are weeding the Lonely Planet, South America on a shoestring guide to make the most of their travels for as little money as possible, not necessarily to read award winning prose. Guidebooks are service pieces where sensory details are secondary to hard facts. What time does the bus come? How long is the journey? Is their free Wi-Fi? Where is this amazing cafe or restaurant? How can people get there? Is it open every day? You need to provide as much detailed information as possible for a reader and a future traveler to be able to replicate that trip. If you're writing a guidebook, expect it to take up months of your time in one go. Writing articles takes much less time. The pay for guidebooks might seem better than writing one-off articles because you get a big chunk of money upfront. But the fees aren't necessarily reflective of the work that goes into them. If you've never written a guide book before, you'll probably update an existing one first or be given a small section, city or town to cover. Check with the guidebook publisher that you would like to write for and see how they work with new contributors. Where can you get your work published as a travel writer? In travel print magazines like AFAR, travel and leisure and departures, in in-flight magazines like Hemispheres from United Airlines or N by Norwegian Air. You could write a guidebook to a city or a region for a prolific publisher like Lonely Planet or independent one like The Messy Nessy Chic Guides. There are regional travel print magazines like Honolulu Magazine or Chicago Magazine. Online travel brands you can write for include Matador Network and CNN Travel. Men and women's magazines published travel stories too, like Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Esquire, Men's Journal, and GQ. Food and business magazines like Eater and Forbes can also be pitched to as well. Food is a way to bring a place to life as it tell stories about the history of a place, its people and their habits. Fashion, lifestyle, and general interest magazines have space for travel pieces too. Most news sites also publish travel articles and information. Try your luck with the Miami Herald, the LA Times, or the Guardian. I've put together an extensive list of print and online resources to get you started, and they're all available in the downloadable Excel sheet. The most important takeaway from this is that travel magazines are not the only places you could write for. Lots of places need travel contents. The examples provided for you are just some of the publications you can write for. There are so many more options in different niches. In fact, travel is a broad term which encompasses culture, food, aviation, identity, history, and the environment. So it's important to remember that travel magazines are not the only places you can submit your travel stories. 6. The Art of Pitching: For first-time freelancers, it's important to note that the work doesn't just come to you, you have to go out and get it.Unless you're writing as a hobby, you're going to want to get paid for your work, and to do that, you'll have to put yourself out there.This chapter covers pitching and it's quite detailed because pitching is a very large part of what you'll be doing as a freelance travel writer, in fact, it helps to view pitching as your actual main job because if you don't ask, you don't get, it's as simple as that. As a freelance writer, for your company and every company needs marketing and you'll market yourself by pitching. Pitching isn't only for freelance travel writers, staff writers and columnists at newspapers have to pitch regularly too, even established writers still send query letters. What's a pitch?A pitch letter of introduction, L-O-I, or query letter, is the way that you offer a story for sale to a publisher.Think of pitching as telling great short stories, and telling stories is essentially your business right. A pitch should use attention-grabbing pros and wow and editor. This is where you show them that you have intimate understanding of the magazine or website and have a great story for them. E-mail is the most common way to pitch,editors don't have times to take phone calls. What should you pitch? What a publisher wants. The first thing to do before firing off a pitch to a magazine is to read their contributor or pitch guidelines. This should be your one stop shop because it'll tell you the exact stories they want, what they don't want, and you might get some sparks of inspiration too. Take atlas obscure, for instance, in their pitch guidelines which can be found on their website under the facts, they list what makes a good entry for their site which caters to curious and wondrous travel destinations. They like secret histories, abandoned places, ghost towns and crazy architecture. Now, if you hadn't read those guidelines and sent them a story about cute restaurants in Chicago, you would have wasted your time. Along with the contributor and pitching guidelines, many magazines published their editorial calendar too. Sometimes it might be on their website or in the media kit. If you know that in six months from now, a magazine will be doing a special on Bali, Send them your Bali stories if you have any, as it's a competitive market, give yourself a slight advantage by selling more obscure stories or pitch about less reported destinations. London has been written about in every way possible. It might be easier to place a story about a small village you visited in Bolivia. Seasonal or time-sensitive pitches have a higher chance of being placed than evergreen ones. They give an editor a more compelling reason to buy your story and time-sensitive pitches, linked to an event often sell even quicker. For example, you can put your story on how to travel for less in high season or to feel as good in winter as you do in summer, or something pegged to Mother's Day or Earth Day, or whichever day is being celebrated in the place that your editor covers. Editors love a news peg. Shorter pitches also have a higher chance of being read and therefore potentially bought. Editors are busy people and they'll be put off by excessively long pitches, so keep it to around 500 to 600 words. A pitch is a condensed email with the highlights of your story, not everything. It's generally best to send one story idea per email. Some editors aren't keen on writers sending multiple stories in one email. They want to believe you're sending your very best idea that's just for them. Again, be sure to really research what each publication wants. Stories, sell ideas, don't. Going to India, is an idea. The opening of a women's only market in India is a story. Also, don't try to sell stories that a magazine has already run. Check that this publication you are pitching to hasn't covered this story recently or preferably at all.If they just ran a similar story, why would they want to publish an identical one again? To get inspiration for what to pitch, keep abreast of what's going on in the industry. As unexciting as this might sound, you should read travel needs to keep your finger on the pulse. If there's a lot of talk about carbon offsetting and fight shame, what could you add about that? Additionally, airlines advertised new routes all the time.That could be your perfect opportunity to pitch to their in-flight magazine with a story about the route that they are debuting. Check travel news sites like Travel mole.com, Traveled weekly.com, Travel industry, Wire.com, The Association of Buddhist travel agents or ABTA, or The International air travel Association, I-O-T-A. For trend reports, use full facts and figures. OAT news, which can be accessed at OAT.com, is the self-proclaimed leading provider of travel data and insight. This could be a great place to hunt for travel-related story ideas, you can also use Google Trends to find out what people are talking about in different countries and trends around which you can base your stories and opinion pieces. Don't forget to peak at what's trending on Twitter where you are too. Onto sending complete stories now, there are some cases where sending complete stories might be appropriate. If a magazine or a site has explicitly asked for complete articles and with personal essays, generally, you shouldn't write the whole article first before the pitch. Every outlet has its own unique style and it wants you to write something that fits into their editorial parameters and appeals to their specific audience and is tailored to their site. Think about if you have the same complete story and sent it to vogue, car magazine and wired, will that work? Probably not. Some places will accept complete manuscripts and others won't. It's best to send a shorter idea and if the editor wants no more, they'll let you know or ask you to write it on speculation.This means that you'd write it and send it to them, but they would have no obligation to publish the final piece. This provides the editor with some insurance, particularly with new writers, because they might be unsure of your ability to deliver. You should only write on spec if you really want to work on the story, or you decide that this by-line or this potential payday is worth your time. Sending a complete manuscript is a risk for you because you spent all the time writing this piece in its entirety and you're not exactly sure anyone will buy it. Editors will also naturally have pointers, feedback, and preferences, so you'd be giving yourself extra work having to tailor it anyway. It could happen that you already have a complete story that you work for someone else, but the editor killed it or you wrote something for your blog, but decided that you'd rather get paid for it instead. In that case, still construct a succinct pitch, selling that article you've already written, but don't send the full story itself. Now it's time to think about who you should pitch to in terms of the type of publication a story might be good for, as well as who or the individuals to reach out to at that publication? When thinking about the magazine or site you're pitching to, what's their editorial slant? What kind of articles are they known for? You do need to tailor your pitches according to who you're sending them to because different magazines have different needs, Nietzsche's, goals and tones of voice. Sending a mass mail out isn't going to lend you your dream jobs. What National Geographic might dismiss as generic and cheesy, might be perfect for a wedding magazine. If you want to write surface pieces about beach destinations, think about Islands magazine, Podding Vast Traveler, Travel and Leisure, or Brides, not National Geographic or Atlas obscure. This might sound obvious, but make sure you get the magazine"s name right. You might be sending out so many pitches and copying and pasting and then you send a pitch for L to glamour.That definitely isn't good. Being good at pitching isn't just about crafting an excellent query letter. It's also about knowing who to pitch to and how they want to be approached. You can search for the editor's name on Twitter, Linked In, or on the magazine's masthead. Research is one of the core skills you need as a freelance writer, so put your investigative skills to good use here. Fortunately, many magazines often have their footprints editions online, so you can see who to pitch to on the masthead, which is usually on the first couple of pages. Tried to get the spelling of the editor's name right too. If you cant find the email address, then quit Google search, use e-mail address binders like Hunter. IO, look on press releases and the magazine's website or extrapolate based on the company's e-mail format. Most businesses have a standard email format they use like first name. Last name at company.com. If you can find out the publishers email format and have an editor's name, you can use your powers of deduction. Flattery will get you everywhere, sometimes. Your appreciation and admiration for publications you're pitching for should come across new email, but don't become a vacuum cleaner. If an editor has written something that you liked recently, feel free to mention it, but don't go overboard with praises and flattery. Simultaneous pitches. Now, some writers do it while others are thoroughly against simultaneous pitching or a simultaneous submissions, which is sending the same story idea to multiple publishers at the same time. You might want to increase your chances of telling a story by sending it to multiple places at once, but I wouldn't recommend it. Send it to the outlet that you would like to buy it the most and give them a head start. If you don't hear back in a total of four weeks, I'd say it's safe to share your story elsewhere. Imagine that you send the same pitch to Magazine A, and Magazine B, and they both love it. It's rare, but it happens. You would have to go to one of them with your tail between your legs because the other one has tap the duct first. If you do send the same pitch to multiple editors simultaneously, have some backup angles just in case you catch two fish with the same hook. Remember, I just want to believe that you have that proposal for them and their publication. They might be a bit dejected and put off from working with you in the future if you tell them somebody else, that's the depth-first. Writing and structuring your pitch now. Think of your pitch in three parts. The winning formula is hook and explanation, including execution, bio, selling yourself, and outlining who you are, and then closing. Generally speaking, you'd have a salutation and then the story starting with the hook, your vision for the piece or how you plan to execute it, and then sell yourself with a flattering bio. Depending on who or how you're pitching, sometimes you might need to deviate from this. E-mail subject lines. The subject line of your e-mail has the tough job of convincing the recipient to take the leap and click. What will make the editor curious enough to say, "Tell me more." Is it possible to create a headline that's impossible not to open? You can also give your subject line, some flair, personality and pizzazz with a bit of humor. Have you ever read a subject line that tickled your funny bone and you didn't click on it? Don't be scared of little humor. Being funny requires a bit more thought and creativity, but it can really pay off in terms of your open rates. Whatever you do, don't waste the e-mail subject line. Here are some examples. Do you think an editor would be able to resist opening this email if it said, "Impossibly interesting development in Papua New Guinea." Be sure to start with pitch, or follow-up pitch, or time-sensitive pitch depending on the nature of what you're sending, and then if it was the first time you're e-mailing. In that case, pitch, impossibly interesting development in Papua New Guinea, or time-sensitive pitch, impossibly interesting development in Papua New Guinea next week, or a follow-up pitch, impossibly interesting development in Papua New Guinea. Starting off with titles, pronouns, and names. E-mails should begin with a salutation. Consider what title and pronoun you need to use. When you know the editor's name, start your e-mail by addressing them with dear first name. If you don't have specific details about the editor, what the opponent is, or the agenda, you can simply keep it vague with dear editor or dear editors. The first sentence or the hook now. After the e-mail subject line and salutation, the next step is the hook sentence. It's an enticing and powerful line. It throws water in the reader's space to make them pay attention. Leer the editor and immediately with the hook that both introduces the pitch and presents the problem, as well as acts as an attention grabber and a leering snapshot of what you're about to pitch. The hook sets your story apart from any other, and essentially tells editor why out of all the Buddhist stories in the world, they need this one right now. A good hook means an editor can't say, "So what?" The first sentence should compel. It often presents a new discovery trend or angle or ask a thought-provoking question. This is also where you can use suerlatives liberally, like loudest, best, biggest or smallest. Here are some examples of hooks in successful pitches that I've sent. Number 1, while the tango will forever be ensconced in the porteno dialect, there's a novel dance movement in town. Buenos Aires is quietly being solidified as the Afrobeat capital of South America. Number 2, everyone and their grandma know of the Panama Canal. What many don't know, however, is that Panama experienced extended periods of French and then American occupation during its construction. This has led to some curious remnants from French and English woven themselves into Panamanians Spanish. Lastly, Pablo Escobar's legacy is under attack. Now, wouldn't this last example make you curious to know what's coming next? Why would Escobar's legacy be under attack? Would that be a good thing or a bad thing, and why? Building on the hook now. Think of your idea and then add layers to it. Layers can take the form of time pegs, so why is this story relevant now? Superlatives like the best, only, oldest, fastest, or biggest. These layers add complexity and increase the uniqueness of your piece. A multi-layered story is the one you should pitch. With the Afrobeat story as an example, let's unpeel the layers. The hook is Afrobeat events are becoming more relevant and popular than tango and Buenos Aires. The superlative is, Buenos Aires is becoming the best only or the hub of attribute events in South America, and the time peg is the next festival is coming up soon. It's always important to show that you've done your homework and that you're familiar with the magazine. Mention if they haven't covered the story or destination, and if they have, tell them how you'll approach things differently. Find articles editors have written specifically about their magazine or interviews they've given. A quick Google search for British Airways High Life magazine editor brought up a gem of an interview with Andy Morris, the magazine's editor. In the interview he tells mad culture all about High Life's philosophy and its approach to travel content. He says, "In-flight titles need to be surprisingly good. The most common reaction I get when I tell people about my role is the phrase, 'I love High Life, it's actually a really good magazine.' What I think marks us out with our sense of personality in the age of Instagram, Yelp and TripAdvisor, the only way to get people's attention is to give them a vibrant sensory depiction of what's possible worldwide and why they specifically might find it fun. Our vision is to bring joy to readers and frankly be anything but boring stories about other people's holidays. We never forget that we're competing against not only 1,000 hours of in-flight entertainment, but the limitless distraction of Wi-Fi." If you're able to find such interviews that editors have given, you can even use direct quotes from them in your pitches to show that you know what you're talking about and you've done considerable research. Feel free to refer directly to an editor's tweets too. Talk about execution. How do you plan to develop the article? Be clear about what you want to say and show them what you propose in terms of tone, any interview subjects, or if you envisage the piece as a personal essay, list, humor, story or opinion piece. A writer that also provides little extras like images can put a smile on an editor's space, particularly for personal essays or stories and obscure destinations that it might be hard to find stock photography for. Mention if you have images and offer to send them, but don't actually attach them within the initial e-mail thinking about your bio and credentials. The most important thing in the pitch is the story. That should shine first and then be followed by your clips and experience. Tell them who you are and include samples of your work. You don't have to physically attach PDFs or JPEGs of their clips though. Rumor has it that some editors delete any emails that have an attachment. You can include links to your published articles or portfolio website seamlessly into your text. Have a little "About me Blurb" towards the end of your pitch to the effect of, I have written for X Magazine, Y Magazine and Z Magazine, and appeared as a travel expert on XYZ national news TV program. Please feel free to review my work at AmazingWriter.com. Your 'About Me Blurb" can include any little wins that you wish to highlight, particularly, if you don't have a lot of clips, you can fill this up with any other achievements that you think are worth mentioning or tips that might stick into the editor's mind. Did someone famous like your tweet, if you want any awards or competitions, are you the first person's traveled to all 50 states? Always wrap up with a call to action, question or expectation, like, I would love to know your thoughts on this proposal at your earliest convenience. Thanks for your time and attention, or please let me know your thoughts on this proposal at your earliest convenience, or I look forward to hearing from you. To give you an idea of what a complete successful pitch looks like, I've included successful pitches and guidelines from six different publications in your handy Excel spreadsheet. Before you hit send, check your work and then check it again. Never draft an email and send it to an editor at directly. Once you're done writing is check it on grammarly, and then email it to yourself so you can get a glimpse of what the layout looks like and also proofread it again. You can never proofread too many times. Make sure your pitch answers the question of why that editor should choose you over another writer. Why should this person pay you the money that you want for your ideas to be out there in the world? Why does the story belong in that publication? Also make sure your pitch explains what's in it for the reader. Will it inform, educate, leave them all stuck or tickle them? Following up now. There's no harm in following up if you haven't heard back from my editor about a pitch you sent. I've gotten replies and comissions after my second and even third gentle reminder. A good time period to follow up is one week after sending a pitch. For a time-sensitive pitch you can follow up two or three days later. Most editors are fine with the polite follow-up message, but no one likes to be hounded so I personally would follow up three times at most. If you still don't hear back from the editor after following several times, then by all means send your pitch elsewhere. The maximum I would wait before sending an idea somewhere else is one month, some say to wait two weeks. There are several reasons why you might not have gotten replied to your initial message. Emails get overlooked, forgotten, or buried. There may have been staff changes meaning that your email was never even seen. Sometimes the editor needs approval from other senior editors so the decision isn't just up to them. Some places had a weekly editorial meeting where all pitches are dissected and discussed. It's handy to have a generic follow-up template that you generally use to speed up the process. Remember to always be polite, even if this feels like the millionth time you're emailing them. Your follow-up message could take the following format. Dear Mara, I hope you're having a lovely afternoon. I'm just checking to see if my pitch below sent on 8th February is of interest to you for publication on X Magazine. I would love to hear your thoughts on this proposal at your earliest convenience. Kind regards amazing writer. Some publications will highlight their policy regarding following up within their contributor guidelines. [inaudible] says that if you haven't heard back from them within a week, it's a no from them. For other sites, sending a follow-up takes your pitch backs to the bottom of the pile. This further emphasizes that you should always look for and read the contributor guidelines for any site you want to write for. All I have mentioned this job requires a lot of patience, stick with it and remember why you want to do this in the first place. Keep those perks mentioned in lesson one firmly at the backup your mind. Dealing with rejection now. There are two types of rejection; radio, silence and an actual No. Many magazines have a policy of not responding to rejection, they simply don't have the time to. So for the most part, only expect to hear back from an editor at when they're interested. Thinking you'll get a response to every single pitch is wishful thinking. Editors wear many hats besides casting their eyes on your pitch. They go to editorial meetings, send invoices for freelancers, and they often travel and write too. Editors can get thousands of emails every week, yours is just one of them. Newsweek for example, reportedly received 600 entries every month but only publishes one. Celebrate when you get a reply, even if it's a no. Now the editor at least knows who you are which is good. Start by thanking them for taking the time to review your work. Courtesy costs nothing and you want to leave the door open to work with that person in the future. Once an editor replies, don't let them forget about you. Strike while the iron is hot and immediately send them another great idea now that they know that you exist. Accept rejections gracefully and don't argue or tried to convince the editor that they're in the wrong for not snapping up your brilliant idea, rather you can offer to re-execute the same story differently. There are many reasons why a pitch might be rejected. Perhaps you haven't really understood the magazine that you've pitched to other voice, maybe they're taking a new direction or maybe the timing is off. The editor doesn't hate you, they just don't need the story or haven't found your pitch compelling enough. If an editor doesn't like your pitch, tel-a vie, life goes on. Don't take pitch rejections personally, the fact that one person doesn't like your work doesn't mean your writing career is doomed. Don't let it be a blow to your ego or diminish your morale. You might have a stream of rejections, but the next acceptance might be the big one that sets your heart on fire. If you do seem to be getting a lot of no thank yous, think about reworking your pitches. There might be something that you need to tweak. Generally speaking, the less you care about rejection, the more likely you are to get back on the horse and simply keep on pitching. Accept from the very start that this is a natural part of freelance writing. Once you receive a firm rejection, send that ideas somewhere else. Now that pitch is free to fly into the inbox of some other good publication that might actually love your story. Keep track of all your pitches on Excel spreadsheets so you know who's yet to get back to you and when you need to follow up with them. You can also use it to monitor your progress and track trends. Also have a pitching calendar that helps you plan your future pitches. Monthly print magazines plan as much as four months ahead, some even 6-2 months ahead. Websites don't have such long lead times, but it helps the pitches out on time. When you send out your pitch, you should already anticipate the kind of questions the editor is going to ask you. If your story is about a hotel or a person,do you have access to them for an interview? Think about what basic questions will come next. So you've gotten a commission or the editor has bought your story. Once you've gotten a confirmed assignment, don't be scared to ask questions. The more questions you ask now the fewer questions your editor will have for you later. Make sure you know that deadline, word count and asked to the style guide if you don't have it already. Some publications use the Oxford comma and some don't, one site will want UK English another might need US English for their audience. Be clear about the deadline and be realistic too. It's easier to ask for flexibility with a deadline now, rather than after when you've missed it. Ask how they want you to submit, whether that's by sending a Word doc or a Google Doc or the images separately in a Dropbox folder. Again, it's worth mentioning the editors are busy people, so don't be startled or taken a back if you get a very short one-sentence reply without any niceties to the effective of yes, we would like to commission this at 800 words and we can pay you x amount, how does this day sound as a deadline? After you submitted the piece a fact checker or photo editor may contact you too depending on the publication and what you submitted. Immediately after handing in an assignment that an editor likes, send another one to keep the momentum going. Some ideas on healthy pitching behavior now. Pitch often but pitch well, don't bash out subpart pitches to hundreds of editors just for the sake of it. National Geographic's editor at large, Norakin says, pitch liberally and write prolifically but maintain quality. Many writers subscribe to the one a day approach. Try to send one very good pitch every single day. Always have numerous ideas floating around at any given time, 10 at the very least. Be consistent about pitching to make sure you're consistently getting assignments. Don't save your best ideas for rainy days either, pitch them now. Additionally, always have a story in your back pocket that you would pitch to an editor if you met them in an elevator, on the street or at a travel show. This might seem obvious, but don't pitch a topic you don't want to write about. If you know a publication is looking for stories about adventure travel, and that's not your forte, every word you're going to have to write is going to feel like a struggle. Also the less invested you are in a subject, unless you know about it, the more research you'll have to do down the line. To write compelling stories that helps to tackle things set your soul on fire. If the cold isn't your thing you might not be able to bring the same vigor to a piece about ski resorts. Readers can sense when you're being dishonest about your interests and so can editors. If you aren't drawn to big cities or no-frills hostels, you don't ever have to write about them. Although you could of course, write a humor piece about a nightmare experience that stemmed from your hatred of no-frills hostels in big cities. Also, never get too attached to your ideas. The final article you write can sometimes be completely unrecognizable from your initial pitch after rounds of editing and various drafts. Keep working on your art and your skill because you can always get better at pitching and getting better at pitching means more assignments, more credibility and more money. Look back at your successful pitches, is there anything that you can learn from them? If your writing style is informal in general, then write the same way that you normally do in your pitch. You don't have to be wooden and overly formal. Showing a bit of personality won't mark you as an amateur, you can be personable and still professional. What will come across as unprofessional is mentioning money in the initial email. Save that for once you've gotten a response, the editors know you want to get paid, but you shouldn't lead them to believe this as your primary focus. Before hitting send on anything, make sure you've fact checked everything you've mentioned in your pitch. Seemingly insignificant errors like using the old capital of a country rather than a new one can destroy an otherwise solid pitch. When you need to get some work fast, pitch editors you already worked with before, you have a higher chance getting assignments from them. Once you become familiar with an editor, you can start sending them one or two line emails with just ideas. Less detailed pitches are fine once an editor no longer needs to be convinced on your writing style or abilities. Be confident, believe in yourself and remember that magazines need new content to survive. They exist to keep their audience and they do that by continuously delivering great stories like yours. Don't think of pitching as you hustling an editor with story ideas all the time, think of it as you making good job easier by reducing the time that they have to be generating ideas. 7. Finding Story Ideas & Unique Angles: Editors don't and can't know everything happening everywhere in the world all the time. They welcome and need fresh stories, and that's where you come in. Your job as a resourceful travel writer is to come up with this story ideas and editors, and their inhouse writers and collection of freelancers won't come up with, and don't have access to. Anyone can write a list of the best rooftop bars in Panama City. But a story on French and English words used only in Panamanian Spanish is a little bit more unique. As professional rights are, ideas are literally our currency. Though they may seem scarce, there's so many things you can do and so many places you can mine for them. During a trip, go on walking towards a new cities. Very often tour guides are historians who combined a passion for their city with deep ingoogleable knowledge. When roaming through a new destination, it helps to think about differences. Difference in this place and where you just came from. What do they have here that you've never seen before? Look out for trends too, are you having more and more conversations with locals when they talk about the rising price of something, or the dislike of a new law or business. After a trip. When thinking about a trip that you've been on already, think of the extremes. What did you like the least and the most? What was the best and worst thing about it? What stood out to you the most? Which details are still accosting you days, weeks, or even months after leaving? Who was the most compelling character you met? Write about the connections you made in a particular place. This only happened to you. Did you talk to a fourth generation German sausage maker at Oktoberfest? This would instantly elevate the typical Oktoberfest story to unique personal story from you. People like connection stories because they fill us with hope and make us think about our own connections. Diversify, diversify, diversify. One trip can produce as much as six possible story angles. You could dream up a cultural angle, a profile on word the characters you met, a humor piece on the funniest elements of the trip, a personal essay, a how to guide, and look at history or trends. Think about service thesis. Let's say you spent a weekend in Miami. After you add a weekend guide, you could then break it down into rooftop bars, museums, the restaurants, places for design lovers, or a guide on how to enjoy Miami on a budget. Squeeze as many ideas out of the same topic, destination, or issue. You can also recreate one story multiple times for different markets. If you've written a piece on how to travel for less, those same ideas could then be applied to help solo female travelers travel for less, or to help students travel for less during their holidays, or to help the discerning voyager travel luxuriously for less. This essentially means it can pitch what's fundamentally the same story, two entirely different publications, and online women's traveler magazine, student travel magazine, and a luxury travel publication in this example. Fighters can also reframe their existing stories or sell them overseas. Your contract probably states at a given magazine has the rights to your story in one particular market, whether that's North America or the UK. But you could try selling it somewhere else, particularly if it's going to be translated into another language. Observe, tune into the world and what's happening around you. Just sit in a cafe and people watch. You might hear a word in a song playing in the background. The smells and sounds may brew certain feelings within you. Look at the people around you and challenge yourself to find the unusual in the usual. Also a little eavesdrop and never hurt anyone. So listen in on other people's conversations. Sometimes when you overhear people arguing, you pick a side or you make up your own opinion in your head without even noticing, write down your opinion on this random conversation. Argue your stance on it. Talk, dictate into your phone to sing absolutely whatever comes to mind. Talk about random ideas for 10 minutes and see what you come up with. Be curious all the time. Ask people questions, serious ones and silly ones be a bit nosey. A fascination for people helps in this job. Taxi drivers can give you an unfiltered and often hilarious account of real life in any given place. Talk to them and tap into their wisdom. They know the inner workings of the streets and the secrets they keep. Read and read between the lines. When you look through a few daily newspaper and notice that nearly all the classified ads are for spiritual healers. Is there a story there? Look an adverts, posters, and even flyers you receive. What kind of events seem to be taking place regularly. Reading widely is essentially purchasing the ingredients for attractive writing. If you want to write great travel articles, you should read great travel articles and do so often. Take one of your favorite pieces and ask why it touched you and what's great about it. Build a collection of your favorite pieces that you can always refer to particularly when inspiration isn't calling. Create reserves. Generate a list of topic ideas that you might read about in the future and organize them by category. This saves you so much time in the future because you can essentially always go look into your encyclopedia of great ideas. Brainstorming is time consuming and as a freelancer, money is time. Create your word stock list. This is a compilation of words that you would like to insert into your stories when day. Sometimes a single word can even become a story. Repurpose and recycle. Sometimes you don't have to find an entirely new story at all. You can repurpose or rework old one's, write and refreshed or updated version of something you've already written before, whether it's an essay or short story, perhaps add something that you've learned since then or new information that's come out. If you're worried about the top 20 wellness resorts last year, what are the top 20 wellness resorts this year? If you're heard about the hottest trends in tech last year, what are the hottest trends and tech this year? Perhaps you can take something you've written before, but this time around, try to come up with a different perspective. Well try to make it more interesting. You can apply the same idea to a different person or place. Position one of your previous stories for a new audience, or set a new location. If you're a young adult romance that enrolled in, what would happen if you change the characters and base it in a high stress office environment in Silicon Valley. Repurposing is one great tool every writer has at their disposal. Write your own version of a topic you've seen another person write, or try to find a new way to tell an existing story. Add your personal experience or your opinion to jazz it up. Perhaps take a story that's gone viral and insert yourself into that heart conversation. You can also dig into the archives of the publication that you would like to write for, going as far back as you'd like. Look at what they talked about then. See if they had any predictions, opinions, or firm statements. Could you write a response to one of those old pieces? Use a quote from someone and construct a narrative around it. For instance, take a Shakespeare and quote about love. Could you write a blog post about love and dating around it, or with that as a starting point. With a quote from Shakespeare is "The Two Gentlemen of Verona". How could you base a Verona story around it? Pick one publication you want to write for and carefully study exactly what they're asking for. Some ideas should spring to mind. For instance, CNN travel says, we're always looking for great travel stories. Lists the provide travelers with helpful surface information, insight into local or regional travel. Tales of an unusual journey. Witty or funny observations. Stunning images. What pops into your mind? Watch out for calls for pitches. Make sure you join in monitor freelance writing message boards, and Facebook groups. They have editors who will post call outs for pitches. As I already mentioned, you should follow editors on Twitter and study what they talk about, who they interact with and the stories they share. This gives you a legitimate proof of what they like. Editors who are very active on Twitter also often retweet other editors calls per pitches. Answering calls a pitches as an easier sell because you know that the editor is already looking for the kind of story that you wants deliver. As opposed to a cold pitch where you not only have to convince them about the topic and the destination, as well as the fact that you are the best person to write it for them. Call per pitches also usually include how the editor likes to be pitched too, as well as their contact details. Go local. Increase your chances of finding story gems that no one else has pitched to an editor by reading regional publications and special interests news. That's where you'll find underreported and niche gems. Spend time among subcultures. Among those sketches wiling away the afternoons in Barcelona, El gravel neighborhood. Did one of them turn his back on in a career in neuroscience owing to the weak economy. Stories about subcultures are intriguing because they focus on others, who most people don't have access to or don't understand. If you can gain access, you've got a leg up on thousands of other journalists. Till this day, stories about the swinging 60s still fascinate. The people who were able to infiltrate and go backstage with the rolling stones will always have an audience for the stories that they have to tell. Go against the grain. If you read an article that said that the keto diet is the only guaranteed way to lose weight and keep it off. Can you argue the opposite? Counter-intuitive ideas aren't clickbait, so feel free to test theories and established wisdom. Could you write about how breakups actually work wonders for relationships, or how solitude is actually great for friendship, or how eating more calories helps you lose more weight. You'll need to back up these statements. But if you can, you went beyond to a winner, The Power of journaling. Now, keep a dream diary. One day you might even be able to take inspiration from your dreams. These are vivid films with absolutely no creative limits. Dreams do the thinking for you and you could come up with a masterpiece like Keith Richards did with "I Can't Get No Satisfaction." It might be a good idea to keep a notebook beside your bed so jot them down as soon as you wake up. Dreams have a habit of sliding off the memory the second we open our eyes. Keep a travel journal. This content pretty much writes itself. In fact, you should keep a journal of any kind. A journal is a place where you organize your thoughts and self reflect. It also helps you write in your personal voice, what problems do you in the world needs solving? What matters to you? What bothers you? What do you wish to find solutions for? What do you want people to be aware of? Think deeply about the message that you want to spread out into the world. What are you passionate about? Think about your network and people you know. Who do you have access to that no one else does. Perhaps you're related to a celebrity, or you met one who you had a once in a lifetime experience with. An editor might love to publish an insider story like that. Leverage your own superpowers. What are you exceptional at? Were you are a top prodigy? Did you make it to the Olympics as a teenager? What hasn't happened to many people but has happened to you. Is there something funny, peculiar, or groundbreaking in your history? Did you move from country to country and a yellow band where you home schooled all your life. Are you allergic to pistachio ice cream? Did you only just learn how to use the Internet? Think about your past and find a unique story people can relate to, or something totally odd that no one can relate to that's bound to catch people's attention. 8. Writing Great Articles & Stories: Writers are magicians who cast spells on readers. Your job ultimately is to make people feel something. You're chasing an emotional response to make them think, feel, dream, hope, cry, feel inspired, or aspire to something. Before you start writing it, make sense to outline your what and your why or your goals. Decide what type of article you're putting together. Is it a narrative, blog post, listicle, review, service piece, reports piece, long form feature or short story? It's important to know this because it influences everything from your choice of words and tone to the level of required research and structure. A listicle demands different structural planning than a personal essay. Writing for the web is different from writing for a print magazine where you aren't chasing shares and retweets. Why are you writing it? Know from the beginning what your point is that you want to make. If you don't know what the point is, how can you adequately communicate it? Start with your purpose or goal and keep it in mind throughout. Are you trying to inspire, inform, or educate? What's the fundamental point of writing this? What mood are you creating for the person that reads this? If there was one single thought you would like people to take away from your writing what would it be? Consider some arising it as an imagined to quote from one of your readers. When thinking about the anatomy and layout of your piece, know that you don't have to start telling the story where it actually begins. You could employ a technique called in medias res, whereby you begin right in the middle of things. You can start with a mid speech quote. That way the reader is instantly drawn to what was said before and will want to know what's coming next. It's a dramatic and beguiling beginning that the reader won't be able to resist. Norie Quintos from National Geographic says, "The biggest mistake I see inexperienced writers make is to organize their piece chronologically and linearly. It's boring. Break it up. Surprise not just with words but with structure." A chronological approach works too, but it's handy to know that a variety of options are available to you for constructing your stories. Here's a delightful example of a story that flips between the current and the past and takes an approach that's anything but linear. It's called Curse of the Buses and it was published on Lonely Planet. "I am standing at the edge of the curb trembling in fear. I have done nothing wrong and yet doom is headed my way, a doom I cannot avoid, a fate into which I willingly step. And there, from around the corner, heading down the street, it appears: the bus. Nothing good has ever happened to me on a bus. In Croatia, my bus stopped for a snack break and left me in Split while I was eating a greasy borek. In Vietnam, women started puking into plastic bags once the bus's wheels started rolling. In city after unfamiliar city, I board buses, politely ask drivers to let me know when to get off, and then, when I inquire again 30 minutes later, routinely hear, "What are you still doing here?" This never happens on subways, trams, funiculars, taxis, ferries, or airplanes. Yet I board a bus, and misery descends. Once, on a bus in Chongqing, I suddenly realized my China trip was failing, badly, and I had to flee the country immediately. But once I disembarked, I regained control. The world looked different; better. I was standing on my own two feet, just how I liked it." Key story ingredients now. Writing is a deeply personal process and there isn't a one-size fits-all formula for how to get it right. However, there are some agreed tips and tricks of the travel writing trade. Interesting characters, dialog, quotes, personal experience, revelation, and detail are the brushstrokes that help you paint richer, prettier pictures. Introduce characters. Who are they? Where did you meet them? Why do they matter? Quotes are handy and savy from having to describe things extensively by yourself. Personal experience and local knowledge make a travel story, a story rather than a brochure. So liberally in views experiences that are unique to you. The flight you missed, how it felt when you stepped foot somewhere for the first time, your favorite and least favorite moments, what inspires you to travel. Individual experiences are akin to confessions that help you bond with readers. In travel writing, it's all in the details. If a picture paints 1,000 words, how can your words paint a picture where the reader has none? With details. Detailed descriptions help the reader see what you did through to your own eyes. It's not telling them what to think, but rather giving them a looking glass to experience what you did and make up their own mind about it. The more detailed your writing is, the more original your work is and the higher the likelihood that the reader can join you and the experience that you had. Sweep the reader off their feet and carry them on a journey with you by painting an evocative picture. What color were the man's shoes? Was there a view in front of the cafe? You might ask yourself why this matters, but the more details you provide, the better the reader can fantasize or visualize the scene to stitch this story together in their own mind. The reader doesn't know what you saw, only you did. Readers want to know what you experience and get a taste for the drama. Help them feel as if they were there or better still long to be there themselves. You should be recreating a scene as vividly as you can. Here's an example of evocative and descriptive writing from Conde Nast Traveler, For Third Culture Kids, Travel is Home. "Like so many "third culture kids". I bookmark my life by country. My first vivid memory is from pre handover Hong Kong - greasy paper bags filled with freshly baked biscuit rolls on board the Star Ferry that crosses Victoria Harbour. I got into my first flight in Australia, had my first kiss in India, smoked a cigarette for the first time in Indonesia". Now, why do we need to know that the paper bags were greasy? Because it's the tiny nuances that create a sense of place and bring a location to life. According to travel writer Tim Neville, the biggest character in your story has no voice and it is the place itself. Your job as a travel writer is to bring the place to life. You do so by sprinkling in as much detail description as possible. Old is no match for ancient crumbles or an ailing Victorian era mansion. It's more enjoyable for someone to read about the sweet coconut milk rice that had the scent of Auntie Lana's kitchen, than a meal that was simply delicious. I felt sad, holds less power than my sullen disposition match the blue of his shoes. Readers will get a better sense of the dining room of a particular hotel with talk of exposed brick walls. That if you simply wrote that you liked the walls, how would the reader know why you left the walls and more importantly, why should they care about the walls anyway? Fill in the blanks and pre empt any occasion the reader will think, why? Why is Dutch cheese the best? Why is this hotel better than that one? Why was this the best trip you ever had? It should be noted that as important as details are, you cannot and should not make them up. Check in on your five senses to paint a multi-sensory picture. Visual descriptions are the easiest, but what about the others? What smells welcomed you or wiped the smile off your face? Did you find it pleasing that there was a lot of noise at the flea market? Did you notice there was a lot less sound than expected. Let your fingers do detective work and caress surfaces. Maybe even sit with your eyes closed and see how differently you experience a place. Tap into how the reader will feel by visualizing yourself as them and stepping into their shoes. What information would they need to feel the way you felt? Think in pictures when you write. If you think in pictures when you write, chances are the reader will too when they read. Create mental pictures and visualize objects by looking at them closely, noticing fine details and even color shapes. Then, look at their relation to their surroundings, movements, patterns, and spaces. Onto headlines now. The headline predicts your stories, life or death. It's what sells your story. Most people will read your headline, but they won't read the full article. A headline is a succinct expression of the entire piece and it should resonate with your target audience immediately. It's obvious that your headline or title should invoke something in all those that come across it, curiosity, inspiration, shock, amusement, or perhaps even anxiety. Your headline is the most prominent part of your sales campaign to sell your articles to readers. So you can use the psychology of selling and keep the AIDCA sales and marketing principle in mind. Your headline should attract attention, spark interest, invoke desire, develop conviction, and trigger an action. There are so many headlines strategies you can employ. Your headline can be a call to action like look inside Spain's unusual baby jumping festival, or you should never do these 10 things at your first Mardi Gras. Your headline can also ask a question to engage readers instantly. For instance, should you travel for love? Hawaii is a paradise, but whose? Are we the barbarians? Do you dare drink these intensely upsetting liquors from around the world? Your headline can include numbers too. Numbers are brain candy which reportedly make headlines more enticing. The mind is also set to trust odd numbers more than even ones. Examples of headlines with odd numbers are "11 romantic restaurants in Paris that won't break the bank". "Three reasons to visit Argentina's Patagonia National Park right now". "11 ways to upgrade your travel game" and "seven banging bomb-a bars in Barcelona". A headline can also be newsworthy and report something readers don't know, like why your airline seat is shrinking or this Twitter account tracks the door codes to London's toilets. Headlines can also be surprising and humorous. Like the world's largest redhead festival was founded by a blonde. The Italian village that celebrates ugliness. The surprising benefits of a quarter life crisis or arctic dining. Think frozen sashimi with a side of reindeer blood. An electrifying title has a clear benefit for the reader and creates a sense of urgency to read on. Human beings have a natural desire for closure. We don't like having gaps in our knowledge. You can leverage this desire for closure with a cliffhanger headline. The teases, previews, provides insight into the outcome of weaving the entire piece and include some promise. Examples of cliffhanger headlines include, I didn't want to leave my incredible cruise ship room until I heard about these 11 things on board. I took one bite and cried. I think I had an epiphany. In Uzbekistan encounters with a dead goat. But in a good way. A tab with catchy head on examples is also available in your Excel spreadsheet to give you some inspiration. When writing your headline, remember the point that you would like to get across and the nature of your article. Some headlines work better for online content or blog and they wouldn't print, magazine. Do spend time working on creating great headlines because you might scribe the most riveting piece of prose ever created, but with adult tittle or there may be few to appreciate it. Your ideal goal is always for the reader to read all of what you've written. But to do that, they have to start reading and your headline is what entices them to do just that. The dek, or standfirst now. The dek is a term used in journalism for the summary that follows the title or headline. It's a short intro of one or two sentences that further explains the story without giving it all away and it acts as a teaser. Many magazines require one, others don't. Here's some examples of deks and the headlines that preceded them. Example 1, headline; The mysterious origins of the pinata. Dek. The pinata is a ubiquitous aspect of Mexican culture. Yet how it got to be that way is somewhat of a mystery. Example 2 headline. You speak the language but you may get lost without this guide to Nigerian English. Dek. Despite a shared language lost in translation, encounters a variety proportions await English-speaking travelers in Nigeria. Example 3 headline, what it's like to be black in China. Dek. People were staring at us and snapping pictures. As you can see, in many cases, the dek does what the headline alone cannot. Frames the story in the reader's mind and convinces them that reading on is indeed a wise investment. Let's move on to the first line of your writing now. What do you desire? That's the opening sentence of my book, Escape to South. The first-line of anything that you write should engage your reader from the very beginning. Journalists know that as the doorway to your writes up the first line has to work hard. It should invite the reader into your story, their home for the next few minutes or hours. If you can remember, the first line of this course in the introduction was, ''it's been called the greatest job in the world.'' This line sneakily convinces people to ask who called it that, and why? There are several ways to create a killer first-line including, asking a question that demands an answer to lure readers in. Making a very bold claim or statement. Writing something out of the ordinary, edgy or controversial. Using a quote to encourage people to find out who said what and why? Using statistics or data to establish a point which you later unpack. using evocative and emotive words. That magical first-line won't always show it space immediately. It might emerge during a vision or editing. A captivating first sentence dictates whether readers will carry on or not. Don't start with what happened first, start with what's interesting. Begin with a bang using a punchy line that intrigues. Here are some examples of stories with great first lines and the headlines that preceded them. This is a very powerful starting point. First line. ''All men hate women,'' said Claudine. The headline was, why do men hate women? Misogyny, mothers, and the curse of masculinity. It's time to go deep into the badlands of male psychology. From GQ magazine. Example 2 first line. Was he a gigolo? How had he sustained three years of travel with no budget? Would I ever get my money back? The headline was, a couchsurfer nearly scammed me. Here's how to prevent it from happening to you in Lonely Planet. Example 3 first line. She's strides in against a backdrop of guitar chords, chest thrust out like an exotic bird. The headline was, Bolivia, no holds barred from National Geographic. Example 4 first line, like a slithering python with too much food in its belly, the Train to the Clouds picked a slow serpentine path through a wild of hill, flecked with ocher hues. The headline was, high roller, one of Latin America's classier trains is also its most spectacular from the Los Angeles Times. Onto the body now, needless to say, this should expand on or fulfill the promises made in the title and the dek. Your body paragraph should explain your central idea with supporting points and elaborations. Story elements and facts should be presented in decreasing order of importance, but don't slack off. Remain interesting throughout. You caught the reader in your hook with your snazzy headline dek and introduction, now sustain their interest. If you're writing for the Internet be sure to please Google by inserting 11 keywords. When writing long copy, use subheadings to compartmentalize so readers can skim through this subheadings alone and still get the full gist of your story. Onto the closing now, to make your stories more compelling and with the punch-list word or a powerful closing sentence that will stay with the reader long after they've left the page, give them something to ponder over. An adequate ending also circles back to the start or the introduction. This wraps things up nicely by fulfilling earlier promises made and provides closure for the readers. No one wants to read something with a head but no tail. A great example of linked first and final paragraphs comes from Sednodak, a regular contributor to The New York Times. The story is titled how Colombia, once consumed by violence, became your next destination in Conde Nast Traveler. First paragraph. In 2008, Columbia's Tourism Board launched a series of commercials touting the country's natural and cultural wonders. In them, visitors and locals with thick accent specific to regions across the country speak glowingly about the hospitality and climate as a montage of oceans, jungles, and buzzing city centers unfolds. Each of the commercial closes with a man saying with a chuckle ''El riesgo es que te quieras quedar or the risk is that you'll want to stay. The last paragraph was word-of-mouth a Nobel Peace Prize, positive headlines and a bright future when it comes to responsible tourism will continue to help Colombia recover from the shadow of violence. But as that tourism campaign nine years ago hinted at, visiting Columbia itself is perhaps the most effective remedy. We've had hundreds of clients and not a single one has been disappointed by Columbia. That's not necessarily because of us Seckovic says, ''Columbia sells itself.'' As you can see, the final paragraph once again, refers to that tourism campaign we were introduced to in the first paragraph. The writer has wrapped up the story nicely so the readers have closure. Wording and sentence structure now. The shorter the sentence, the easier it is to understand. Any more than 32 words in one sentence makes for uncomfortable reading. If one word will suffice, don't use three. It's not just about what you say, it's how you say it that matters. You won't be there to defend your writing when someone reads it so make sure it conveys what you wanted to. Make sure you're consistent with your use of tenses too. Self editing. This goes without saying, but you should always edit your work several times. Then some editing software like Glammerly and Hemingway can prevent you from publishing rep with careless grammar mistakes or typos, which happens to the best of us. When an editor discovers a spelling or grammar mistake, it completely interrupts their concentration. It might even make them stop reading. At the very least, it's bound to lessen your authority in their eyes. Give yourself the overnight test. Go back and look at what you've written later on when you've had some distance from it, always read your work out loud before you hit send. You'll know immediately if it sounds silly, misleading, or pompous. Also, don't be scared to go back to the drawing board. The first thing you write usually isn't your masterpiece. Revise. Finding your writing style now. What's you're talking style? Sometimes we get in our heads when we know we're writing. It may be helpful to think about how you tell stories when you are speaking to a friend, talk into your phone or a recorder to reacquaint yourself with your voice. What's your normal way of being? That's the way you should write. Let your written work reflect your personality, whether that's sarcastic, wistful, romantic, dry, or straightforward. Your personality is your gold dust. Don't write on anybody's voice but your own. If you're funny in real life, don't exclude that from your written work. On the topic of humor. Use it sparingly about others and more generously with yourself. Getting people to laugh along with you or at you helps them develop positive associations with you. Let's all humor can go a long way towards making your message accessible and relatable. Lastly, No one wants snoozefest. Never underestimate the importance of being interesting. Don't just write something for writing sake. Are those words jumping off the page and into the reader's dot catalog and chamber of dreams? Great travel stories are surprising, intriguing, original, and engaging. If the reader is involved, they'll keep ticking along to the very end, where they will ideally find your punch-list word twist, or a crescendo. 9. Freelancing Finances & Administration: Think about a nightclub. It's a well oiled machine with various people assigned to different tasks. There is a DJ to play the music that the clients like, the lighting, a bouncer to keep out the undesirable and protect the club from uncertainty, Insurance. People who hand out flyers and spread the word about the club or pitching. An admin and finance people who track suppliers, deal with money, issue and chase invoices, and also ensure that everyone gets paid. When you're a freelance writer, you have to be that well oiled machine all by yourself. You are a one-person business, doing this successfully means nailing the business side of writing and not just being a stellar wordsmith. For instance, some clients are lazy about paying freelancers on time. Not only do you have to prepare for potential financial dry spells, but you also need to become a master of planning and keep meticulous records. You have to be a jack of all trades and get comfortable wearing many hats. If you're a freelance writer, you're in marketing, whether you realize it or not. You're your own agents and a pitches all over town. You handle PR for your company and you go to trade shows and networking events where you hob nob with editors and tourism bodies. You create an attractive business card that you hand out at set events. You set up your own website and maintain it with all of your recent clips. You are continuously marketing yourself and your ideas. If you are writing as a business and not a hobby, you have to view it that way. If you treat your writing like a fully-functioning successful business that's what it will be. Pen names now. Whether you would like to use a pseudonym or your real legal name is something you should think about at the start of your career. You don't want to have to switch names after you started accumulating clips, and building relationships with editors, and have already printed business cards. Starting from scratch again, will be a hard and unnecessary slog. There are many reasons why you might want to use a pen name. It may be that you don't want all of your ideas and opinions to be instantly Googleable. Perhaps would be writing about sensitive subject matter and want to separate your personal and professional identity, or you don't want your family to be associated with what you're writing. Maybe you'll be switching between genres. You might simply want to follow in the footsteps of J. K. Rowling or Pablo Neruda, George Orwell, and Mark Twain who all use pseudonyms. Whatever the case may be decide early on in your writing career. When filling out contracts you will often be required to include your real name as these are legally binding documents. But having your real name revealed on legal contracts should by no means hinder you from using a pen name if you so desire. Pitch to pay timelines now. There can be months and months between the day you send out a pitch, the day you hear back from an editor, the day that work is assigned when you submit the written work, when it's published and when you get paid for it. You might be anxious to see your work out there in the world, but a magazine might hold onto it for months while they decide which issue it is most suitable for. Patience is a virtue and it's of utter importance in this business. Don't hound the editors to know the publish date. They'll often tell you when it's scheduled for or you should look out for this yourself. To give you an idea of pitch to pay timelines for one client, I sent out a pitch on the 27th of May, then I heard back from the editor on the fifth of June when he asked for more ideas, which I sent over two days later on the 7th of June. My final commissions for three articles came in on the 28th of June, and I submitted them on the third of July. They were then published on the 22nd of July, and I received payment on the 18th of September. This isn't actually a very long timeline. Sometimes you'll get paid within 30 days, sometimes there will be as much as five months later. It really all depends on the client there policies, the efficiency of their finance department, your editor, and your correspondence. Payment schedules. If you're going to be freelancing, take note that each publication has their red tape, contracts, legal requirements, and payment terms. Payment terms vary between 14 days and 19 days in some extreme cases and yes, you might have to do some chasing. Ninety day terms aren't very common and I generally tend to avoid those jobs. Some outlets pay on receipt of a story while others pay on publication. Payments on publication or a POP is a widespread practice in the industry that makes it that much trickier to budget. If you write for a daily newspaper, that's fine because you get paid 30 days after a story. But monthly magazines commission months in advance. Sometimes your story could get pushed to a later issue to make room for something more topical and it's impossible to know when the publish date and your payday will be. E-publications has different payment methods. Some use PayPal, TransferWise, Venmo and Payoneer. Some will deposit directly into your bank account. I've personally never been paid by check, although this also happens. If you're a freelancer operating internationally with publications all around the world, they'll each have their own legal requirements and forms. Non-us citizens writing for US based publications will have to fill out W-8 tax forms, for instance. Always find out a company's legal and payment terms and decide if they are suitable for you. You are by no means obligated to accept terms that aren't in line with how you wish to do business. Contracts now. When working with a new publication, ask for a contract and read it very carefully before you begin working to fully understand what your rights are. Don't be intimidated by them. The terminology used in them isn't all that complicated, although it can be when you are starting out and you don't know what exclusive rights or indemnification mean. Indemnification means that a publisher isn't responsible if something goes wrong, and exclusive rights means you can't publish the same work elsewhere for a given period of time or in a specific territory. If you give away all rights to the work you've done, it means you're prohibited from ever using it again, so do check the fine prints. A contract should spell out your responsibilities and things like the magazines approach to kill fees. A kill fee is an amount that you are paid if a story that was commissioned gets killed or will no longer be published. Kill fees hover around 25 percent of the originally agreed rate. Stories get killed for a multitude of reasons, different direction, creating differences, or even editor changes. If you'd been commissioned to write a story about why Thomas Cook is the best travel provider naturally, that story wouldn't be able to run after the company went out of business. You're freelancing business plan now. Hard work alone isn't the answer, you have to know where you're headed. Businesses have business plans, and since you are a business, you need one too. Your freelancer business plan should include your goals. This includes career goals, saving goals, income goals, time goals, the services and products you offer and a marketing plan. Think about the goals you have for your career. What does your road map to success look like? Is it making six figures or having a weekly column? Which tends to get a major publishing deal and have your book turned into a movie on the big screen. You should also have a plan for how much you would like to save. The nature of freelancing means you're vulnerable to fluctuations, so it's important to have money aside for a rainy day and don't rely on the varying pay schedules that different publications have. Also in the event that you get sick and can't physically work, would you be financially okay? Try to create a buffer of funds and have money for at least four months out. In order to save X amount of money each month, how much do you need to make? You need to have robust plans in place to deal with the feast or famine nature of freelancing, and all of those income ebbs and flows. Income goals for how much you want to make in a year, or a month, or each week. How many pages do you need to sell and how many articles do need to write to reach them? You should have a minimum income goal that you absolutely must hit to survive, and live your life the way you need to live it. It's hard to predict how much money you'll make and when you'll have it because different outlets have varying paste schedules. But you can think about how much you need to make in order to reach your saving goals, and have time off yourself too. Thinking about time goals, how many hours per day and days per week would you like to work? Would you like to freelance full or part-time? Do you want to retire in x amount of years? How many stories or assignments would you like to have on your plate each week? In terms of the products and services you offer, will you focus on creating content for other publications? Or want to build your own blog and community. Will you turn your hand to editing, write guidebooks, travel brochures, or all of the above? You should also have some marketing plan. How will you promote yourself? Who is your target market? What's your positioning, your perception in the market place? Do editors know you as the go-to person on European city breaks or traveling with points? How will you attract buyers for your stories? With a fabulous websites, snazzy business cards, a witty bio, or membership to a Travel Writers Association? Do you have a portfolio that represents your best work?Any and all such points you have with your target audience are a form of marketing. Even your email signature is prime real estate to show off your credibility, as you can include your recent clips there too. Expenses and taxes now. While you don't need much besides a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection, and maybe recording devices for interviews and actual node pads, if you still write that way. Freelance writers will have some recurring business costs like, maintaining a website. They'll be hosting fees and payments for domains. There'll be membership fees for organizations in your field. Subscriptions for publications and magazines in your field, books, business cards, classes and workshops. As a self-employed freelancer, you are responsible for filing your own taxes. As such, you'll have to save your receipts and keep meticulous records of your expenses, as they may be tax-deductible. Depending on where you're from, the self-employed must keep receipts for six or seven years. To avoid having a huge pile expenses to account for, try to record them weekly or monthly. Dates and requirements for filing your tax returns depend on where you're from. Do look into this once you start thinking about freelancing. Keeping track of payments, as soon as you get a commission, record who it's from, what the commissioned work is, how much you're owed and when you should be paid, this is so important. Particularly if you have multiple assignments simultaneously. This saves you from having to dig through emails later to find out who owes you what and when. An Excel spreadsheet is ideal for doing this. Don't slack off when it comes to sending invoices. You've done the work so as to get paid. Why wouldn't you? Again, take note of when you sent an invoice and when you expect it to be paid, so you can chase them if the payment doesn't come through by the due dates. No one enjoys chasing for late payments. You've worked to build a relationship with an editor or a publication, only to have to dip into the muddy waters of unpaid invoices. A very rough estimate is that on average, 20 percent of all invoices will be paid late. When this happens, send an inquisitive yet warm email bringing the unpaid invoice in the magazine's attention. This email will either be sent directly to your editor, their finance department, or whoever you send the invoice to originally. Your email could take this format. Good morning, I just wanted to check on the status of invoice XXX attached, issued by First Name, Last Name, for Great Magazine and sent on 4th July. As I believe you have a 30 day pay cycle, I thought I'd check if it was received and if all the details are in order. Please let me know if there's anything else I need to include for payment processing. Thanks very much in anticipation. Kind regards, Amazing Writer. Keep the email short and sweet and include all the details needed for someone to look up the invoice quickly. Always remain friendly regardless of whether this is the second, third, or 15th time you're inquiring. Emails get forwarded all the time and you never know where yours might land. Keep at it and eventually someone will get tired of hearing from you. Your subsequent emails can be even shorter to the effect of, Hi First Name, Last Name, I hope you're well. Just checking if there's any update on unpaid invoice XXX? Thanks for your continued assistance. Kind regards, Amazing Writer. Keep sending this until you get a response. When you feel you've exhausted all your options, and sent emails and maybe even calling, it's not unheard off to tag on late payment fees and penalties. These aren't always respected but it is within your legal rights to do so. If you can afford to, simply let go of clients that don't pay on time. There are so many promptly paying fish in the sea. Freelance writing etiquette now. Always be easy to work with. Hide your deadlines and don't go of the word count drastically. The less grief you give an editor the more they want to work with you again. Send an article slightly earlier than your deadline if possible, and ask for more work. Remember to be flexible, amenable, and courteous at all times. You are certainly not obligated to but offering to supply images can go a long way and sweeten the deal for an editor, particularly if it's hard to locate stock images for that event or destination. Having a good eye can help you get more money in this field. Many publications will pay you an additional fee for providing photos. Even if they don't pay, often to provide images may certainly elevate an editor's estimations of you. Building long-term relationships.You should be working up to a point where you have several regular clients that you work with who come to you with assignments and not the other way around. This guarantees you a steady income and writing for them is easier for you because you are already familiar with your editorial style. They'll start up with all of their payment systems and you know what to expect from them. Getting recurring gigs saves you so much time and therefore makes you money because as a freelancer, time is what you're selling. Clients would come to you with requests when they've worked with you before, and they know that you deliver what you promise, and also if you're a pleasure to work with. You don't have to become their best friend, but don't shy away from sending digital Christmas cards to thank them for the steady stream of work. This is a thoughtful and effortless way to nurture your client relationships. When clients are happy with your work, seize the moment and ask them for a testimonial or linked-in recommendation. You can then put all your recommendations on a dedicated testimonials or what clients say page on your website, which looks great when a new client is sizing you up. Professional development: keep sharpening your pencil to become a better writer. Admit that there are things that you don't know. Fill gaps in your knowledge with a wealth of information that's out there on online courses and in books. Read writing advice, follow writers you admire or go and writing retreats, workshops and industry events. You should always think long-term and keep working on your art. Tackling procrastination: Rather than avoiding the boring or difficult tasks that you don't necessarily like, face them. If you have to keep record of your expenses, do them as you go along rather than letting them pile up. The higher the stack, the more it will fill you with dread, the longer that tricky email goes on answered, the more it will fester at the back of your mind. Procrastination compounds the original problem, put on your cape and fix it. Time keeping: Set some ground rules for yourself. Give yourself a set time, day, or duration where you write without fail. That way you have a mental note that nothing gets in the way of Tuesday morning writing time, or whenever you decide to do it. Develop a writing habit. Set limits on how much time you want to work per day or per week and get ready to have a different schedule from your friends and family. Sometimes there is little difference between a Monday and a Saturday for us freelance writers. This has already been mentioned but you'll spend a surprising amount of time notes actually writing. There is pitching, which is mini-writing, invoicing, chasing payments, building your website, networking, researching, editing, transcribing interviews, and many more behind the scenes tasks that will have take center stage to keep your business going. All are equally important and should be treated as such. Can you cut it? Freelancing isn't for everyone. Going freelance is risky as you essentially trading stability for freedom, but that freedom comes at a price and that price is hard work. You need to be very disciplined to manage your time, cash flow, keep up with deadlines and chase payments. There are no guarantees with freelancing, no health care plan, no retirement fund, no paid holidays. There's also little security. You might get a commission and then get ghosted by the editor. Writers ghost editors too by the way. Variety is the spice of life, but constantly switching gear may become tiresome. No two clients want the same thing. No two magazines have the same tonal voice or editorial guidelines. You have to become very good at pivoting and putting on different hats. Nevertheless, with the right mindset, future planning and a bit of structure, you can very much enjoy freelancing. They say, do what you love and you'll never regret a day in your life and that's true. You can inject joy into your freelance life by hand picking your ideal clients and customers. Remember why you freelance in the first place and make sure you're reaping the benefits. Freelancing can often be a catch 22 where you're grinding so hard that you often don't have the time to enjoy your supposed freedom. Freelancers are prone to mental health issues lead to distress, and extended periods of solitude. Be aware of this and figure out what you need to remain balanced. Don't try to be everything to everyone or do everything all the time. Set real boundaries for yourself and know that there's no shame in saying no. It also helps to read articles by other freelance writers, where they discuss work-life balance as well as the joys of freelancing. 10. To Niche or Not to Niche?: In the realm of freelance writing, travel is already a niche and it's up to you if you want to niche down even further. There's a lot of diversity in the travel sphere and many possible subfields. There are writers who specialize in vegan and gluten free travel, LGBT travel, wildlife travel, luxury travel, equestrian travel, alpine tourism, creative entrepreneurship, and the business of travel writing, food and wine, cycling, trucking, adventure travel, and others who write about ski destinations, travel hacking, traveling fitness, astrotourism or space travel, and even bear-watching destinations. You can also have a geographic specialty and become an expert in one country or region. While I'm not confined to these, I predominantly write about Latin America and tropical destinations. It's highly unlikely I write any stories about Antarctica because I'll probably never go there on my own accord, because my relationship with cold weather is frosty at best. Remember, it's always easier to write about the things that you enjoy and feel passionate about. Other niches you could explore include book ghostwriting, brochures, long-form blog posts, personal essays, trade publication articles, newsletters, press releases and pitches, social media captions or service articles. You could also create a specialist blog that focuses on one topic or destination. Some say that niche is the new norm. The importance of picking a niche is widely discussed in travel writing but many writers have wildly successful careers without a niche at all. Let's weigh up the pros and cons. The pros of having a niche; you develop specialized knowledge, you save time because you don't have to do quite as much research because you already know the destination or topic at the back of your hand, you become inextricably linked with the destination because you've written about it prolifically. As such, you enjoy top-of-mind recall as the go-to person for a specific place, topic, or type of writing. Which writer comes to mind when you think of Havana? Hemingway or Hemingway? You can be seen as an expert on a given topic or place and can therefore, develop a reputation for yourself and build your career faster than a generalist. You become an authority on a particular topic and you can demand more money. Having a niche gives you a competitive advantage in a sea of travel writers. Each time you pitch to a publication and you share your clips that highlight your strength in a given area, you move to the top of the pile. Having a niche gives you a guaranteed stream of content. If you're vegan, you can always write about what it's like visiting Buenos Aires or Texas as a vegan. You'll simply stand out more and get noticed. You're automatically differentiated from the hordes of food bloggers out there if your niche is cooking with just five ingredients. Onto the cons now. You could niche too far down that you can barely come up with articles. When you have a very narrow niche, you miss out on a lot of the variety that travel writing affords. It might get repetitive writing about the same or similar things over and over again. A niche has to truly interest you for it not to feel torturous writing about it repeatedly. You might pigeonhole yourself into something when in fact, there's so much more you can apply yourself to. Even if you specialize in equestrian travel, you also know about booking flights during peak seasons, and finding hotel deals, and all the travel admin that goes into booking trips for events. So even though you might think all you know is confined to one beat, there's so much more you can extend yourself to. You might lose out on work that's not in your field. An editor may be less likely to hire you to write a piece about Lisbon if your clips only indicates significant knowledge of Alaska. Having a niche could exclude you from certain jobs. Being a generalist allows you to cast the net wider and you can take on more jobs. Travel is my bread and butter but I also write about lifestyle design, wellness, identity, entrepreneurship, and business. Generalists are more adaptable and can say yes to clients in different industries to create different types of content, which is lucrative for your business. Sometimes it's better to have a bit of career diversity in case the worst happens or your sector takes a hit. If your industry experiences a downturn, then you can easily pivot to something else without your livelihood being impacted negatively. It's best to take a dual approach and not entirely shoehorn yourself into something. Even after selecting a niche, there's nothing stopping you from branching out to other topics, regions, or sectors, once you've established yourself in one. Try on different hats and see which suit you best. With each pitch, present the clips that show expertise in the region or topic you're pitching for. It may not be your niche but you can position yourself that way for each query letter. If you are particular about New York, preferably include all the stories you've written about New York, not Nepal. 11. Notes on Travel Blogging: Notes on travel blogging. To separate your blog from the thousands of travel blogs being created every day, your blog should have a niche. To make yours stand out, there needs to be a clear benefit. Why do people love Nomadic Matt's blog and his books and his courses? Because he helps them travel the world for less. That's his niche and USP. A unique selling point or USP, is what differentiates your travel blog from the rest. Some travel blogs with specific niches are Theplanetd, which focuses on couples travel. Journey Era which is a solo backpacking and adventure travel blog. [inaudible] , which is a female travel community. World of Wanderlust by Brooke S-award is one of the leading solo female travel blogs. Nomadic Matt, which offers budget travel tips. The Points Guy, which has the focus of using an accumulating points and miles and Pty.life, which is a Panama lifestyle blog. Joey Bonura is a blogger who creates country-specific blogs. His first was Pty.life, which has since become the leading lifestyle blog in Panama. Pty.life covers everything to do with the Isthmus of Panama, where to eat, drink, and play. The only post about other countries on relation to taking weekend trips from Panama. When he went to live in Bogota, he then created a Columbia specific blog called Bogotivo, and then another for Peru when he moved there, which is Lima Insider. Having three separate blogs for these different countries makes more sense than combining them, as each can remain a go to destination for information within one country market. Blogs do need to have niches the same way magazines have an editorial slant, or the way that a newspaper might have a political inclination. It's about reaching a specific target audience. With an ultra-targeted audience or niche, it's easier to get brand partnerships because the company will have a better idea of who will see their ads. My social media handle is thebeachbell, which was the name of the beach blog that I used to run. The fact that I wrote about sunshine destinations and the beach lifestyle made it much easier to get partnerships with resorts because they knew that my audience would be people with similar interests. One thing you have the niche for your blog, who do you want to attract and how will you attract them? Consider your interests and what you're good at. It's wise to blog about something that you think you'll enjoy writing about for years to come. Your passion and zeal will be clear for all to see and read. To help promote your blog, you'll need a media kit, which is a promotional tool that helps raise awareness, showcase your previous work, and explain your services. Essentially, your media kit should be everything that outsiders need to know about your business packaged into a neat, tidy, creative and informative document, ready for presentation. It should be something that you can proudly present to represent you. It should include things like your rates, website traffic or sales figures, your editorial calendar, if you have one, your core values or your wide audience demographics, the services you offer, or how you can collaborate, as well as contact details. Think of it as a brand overview, a brochure, or a resume for your business. This is where you can brag about your accomplishments and the awards you won, or press recognition you achieved, or quotes from readers and influential people. Every large magazine has a media kit from Vogue to Travel and Leisure magazine. You're media kit can be beautifully compressed into one page or resemble a magazine itself with your information spread out on multiple pages. If you're unfamiliar with media kits, search for examples from other travel bloggers to get a feel for them. Canva also has a treasure trove of media kit templates that you can customize to suit your blog and brand identity. 12. FAMs & Press Trips: FAM, is short for familiarization trip organized by hospitality businesses, PR agencies, tour operators, tourism boards, CVBs or convention and visitors bureaus and DMOs, or destination marketing organizations. These bodies give freebies to travel writers and journalists because they believe them to be a more worthwhile investment than buying advertising. Inviting creative people to live and breathe your experience and write about them in a multitude of magazines, websites, and blogs, is efficient and cost-effective. For a travel writer, such invite only trips are a great way to get a sense of a destination right from the horse's mouth, the Tourism Board and the people who live there and run businesses. Press trips are perceived as the holy grail of travel writing. Many choose this profession, believing it's one big party with back-to-back, all expenses paid free vacations, but these trips are far from free. Yes, there are luxury stays and gourmet meals in places you might otherwise never have access to, and they're fabulous. However, a tourism board may comp your hotel, meals and tours, but sometimes you'll have to get from A to B on your own dime. These trips might cover all or just a few of your expenses. Anything that isn't on the itinerary, will be out of your own pockets.You'll also have certain deliverables, be it a number of articles, social posts, or videos. There are group press trips and individual ones. On the organized group press trips, you'll be with other media professionals or bloggers, anywhere between three and 15, and there'll be a fixed schedule over a period of 1 to 4 days. Group press trips can be very fast-paced and rigorous, with a tightly packed itinerary from sunrise till sun set. Self-guided exploration, might not be possible at all, and you'll see pretty much what the client wants you to see. Some travel writers aren't too fond of group press trips, and prefer to organize their own FAMS independently to avoid being tied to a group of people that they don't know for a given number of days. To organize your own familiarization trip, you can contact the tourism board or the PR's directly with a well worded pitch. Use LinkedIn to find their names if there's no contact information on their official website. Solo trips are much more flexible with more downtime.There are pitfalls too, of course.They may lack the camaraderie of a group exclusion and can feel a tag lonely. One of the trickiest aspects of familiarization trips, is that the Tourism Board, PR or DMO, might want you to have a confirmed assignment from a publication first before they book you onto a trip. This is a bit of a catch-22 because many publications don't want you to pitch to them before you go on a trip, only after. Similarly, a tourism board could specify that they would like a confirmed assignment from a particular magazine, The New York Times travel section, for instance. However, the New York Times and many other magazine, have strict policies against writers getting assistance or accepting freebies and don't actually commission stories that resulted from press trips at all. This is due to the belief that it undercuts a writer's ability to be objective and impartial. The New York Times actually mandates, the journalists can't have gone on a press trip for as much as two years before they pitch a story to them. All we took a magazine or websites contribute to a guidelines before you pitch, as they might include their policy on press trips and FAMS. There are endless obvious benefits of going on press trips for writers. It can be one of the most rewarding parts of the job. You're introduced to sites that you might overlook if you were traveling independently and they're brilliant ways to network with your peers. By reducing your travel expenses with press trips, you can travel more, and the more you travel, the more travel stories you have to sell, which sounds like a win-win to me. 13. Useful Resources : If you'd like some resources beyond this course, I've compiled a list of websites, blogs, books, networking events, and associations that can take your learning further. There in a tab on the Excel document that's available for download along with this class. You can refer to them in your own time. Definitely make these your friend. I would like to highlight thewritelife.com and Dream of Travel Writing as a great resource from Gabby Logan, who talks about breaking in, the business side of things and location independence. On The Write Life you can find great articles on everything from what to do when a client thinks your rates are too high to self-publishing. 14. 11 Travel Writing Commandments: We've reached the final lesson. To round things off, here are 11 travel writing tips to keep in the back of your mind, at the beginning of your journey and throughout your career. First and foremost, don't reject editing or take it personally. The editor's job is to make your writing the best it can be for the publication and its readers. Rewriting only hurts your ego, not the story. Editing is a conversation about your story to make it as great as it can be, and rewriting is just part of the process. Some publications have a policy of two or three rounds of editing. A first draft is just a draft, so take it as such. Ultimately, you want the best version of your work to be put out there into the world, and the editor helps you do that. Second of all, you should never compare your writing to anybody else's, they have their genius and you have yours. Accordingly, don't mimic anybody else's style. Number 3, recording is critical as a travel writer. Don't rely on memory to capture all the sensory details and facts that will bring the piece together. Write obsessively about everything you see, touch, smell, hear, taste, think and feel. Your future self will appreciate that half of the work is already done. Develop your own shorthand system. Taking pictures is also a great shortcut. You need to gather all the details first before you condensed it together, a beguiling detail, a rich story. Number 4, you can share as much or as little as you feel comfortable with. You don't have to share your deepest darkest secrets in your travel writing. You can base your stories on incredible people you meet or places that moved you. Share information about your life, but know that you don't have to give everything away. Number 5, it's okay to say no to jobs. You can turn down a certain assignment if the company doesn't align with your values, if the pay is too low, or if you want to make space for more of what you love. You always have a choice. Number 6, stick to your given word count. Many writers abide by the 10 percent rule where they only allow themselves to go 10 percent above, or below the assigned word counts. Editors find it irksome when they have to cut down your words significantly. You might have more leeway with digital content, but for magazines and guidebooks, the word counts impacts formatting, so it's more important. Remember that editors will always like you more if you give them less work. Number 7, aim high, reach for the top. If The New York Times is your dream publication, pitch them, don't be afraid of success. Number 8, turn lemons into lemonade. After you've been published, made it into your dream publication, signed a publishing deal or written something that went viral, leverage that to achieve your next goal. Turn small wins into big ones. If a celebrity liked one of your tweets, mentioned that in your next pitch, or somewhere on your website, no accomplishment is too small to mention. Number 9, model your career on your role model. When you're starting out, take one person that you respect and admire, and trace that person's footsteps. One of the hardest things about travel writing, is there isn't a clear path. Model your career on someone you admire and let their trajectory be your guiding light. Whether it's Brooke Saward, getting a publishing deal off the back of her blog, World of Wanderlust, or becoming a New York Times bestselling travel writer like Nomadic Matt. Look how they started and the steps they took to get where they are today. Number 10, consume the kind of media you need to create, your writing will be so much richer and better for it. Listen to podcasts, visit your favorite websites and blogs, and read the work of writers whose work you find illuminating. Read widely and keep educating yourself on the world in general, and the ecosystem of your given topic area. Finally, keep traveling. Travel helps you get stories no one else has, and subsequently makes you more interesting to editors and readers. It's notorious for opening up the senses. It imbibes you with irreplaceable experiences. Keep on traveling and exploring, to recharge your batteries and fall in love with the world over and over again. Writing is a wonderful vehicle to access the world. Travel writing is a privileged profession. The crucial ingredient are a laptop, Internet connection, and unwavering curiosity. As you start your career, there are so many things to look forward to. Getting your first commission, publishing a story you really believe in. The first time you get approached by an editor, the first time you see your writing translated into another language. Waiting for your dream publication, going viral, winning an award, touching someone's heart and inspiring them to answer the call of elsewhere. Making it and thriving as a freelance travel writer is hard work, but on the flip side, you get to see the world and share your stories about your experiences. They don't call it the greatest job in the world for nothing. 15. 15 Class Project: Now that you've gotten a world of inspiration regarding writing great articles, breaking into travel writing, and also the business side of things, it's time to put pen to paper or fingers to laptop. With the help of the Excel sheet that's available for download, your class project is to complete these six tasks. Write down your goals as a travel writer. What does your road map to success look like? Is it having a weekly column or would you like to get a major publishing deal and have your book turned into a movie on the big screen? Number 2, write down the products and services you would like to offer. Will you focus on creating content for other publications, or like to build your own blog and community who you market your own products to? Would you like to write guidebooks, service articles, or travel brochures? Would you like to write blogs but do a bit of vlogging as well? Write copy for hospitality businesses, social media copy or ghostwrite? How about all of the above? Number 3, start a list of ideas for potential stories that you would like to write. Number 4, write your top 10 hit list, or the 10 sites or magazines that you would most like to write for. Number 5, take one publication you would like to write for, look at their guidelines and write a practice pitch using the tips provided in this course. The final task, write your About me blurb or bio that you would include in your pitches. There isn't a grading system for this project, but getting a head start on these tasks will help you as you navigate this industry and make the crucial first steps towards your dream career. Thank you so much for joining me for this lesson. Good luck, have fun, and see you at the next class.