Two Ways to Pinpoint Your Audience and Sell Your Story
by David Morgan (reporting from our New York Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop)
Most travel writers, I think it’s fair to say, don’t think of travel writing as a sales job. It is.
Not only do you need to sell your destination… whether a hotel, restaurant, or rarely visited beach… you also need to sell your article, whether to a reading audience or, more importantly, to the editor who will accept or reject it.
John Forde, both a travel writer and copywriter, is a master at targeting audiences and editors so he’ll know exactly what they’re after before he puts ink to paper.
Tonight he spoke with us after dinner, describing seven ways to know your audience and six ways to pinpoint what the editor of a particular venue wants to print.
When you know these things, you will be much more able to make a convincing sale of your article.
Here’s one of the seven ways to find out what your target reader is interested in reading, something that I didn’t know before tonight: Search web sites like www.fodors.com, which have reader forums.
By reading the posts of your target audience, you can find out what sorts of places they’re interested in, common questions they ask, and what they look for in a destination.
So say you’re interested in writing for Fodor’s. You’d discover on their reader forum that their readers aren’t interested in roughing it, for example, and you’ll have a much better idea of what does, in fact, interest them.
You can bet that the editor of the publication also watches those posts and will plan the editorial calendar accordingly. After all, websites and publications like Fodor’s depend on keeping their readers’ interest in order to keep them coming back to their websites and renewing their subscriptions.
I’d also like to share something else John revealed. It’s one of six ways to know what editors are looking for in your article: Look at the ads in the publication you’re targeting.
If, for instance, Exxon has an advertisement in your target publication, it’s unlikely the editor will publish a piece detailing the evils of fossil fuels.
On the other hand, if the publication regularly has an advertisement or two from yurt manufacturers, you can bet the editor will be interested in articles about yurt-trekking in Mongolia… or about how you constructed your own yurt on your weekend property, rather than a log cabin.
Maybe yurts aren’t your gig, but the ads in the publications you’d like to write for can give you a hint about what you could (and couldn’t) sell to the editor.
Go ahead and page through some of your favorite magazines. Get on their web sites. Look at what the readers are saying, and study who advertises there. This will give you a great advantage when it comes time to spin your article to prospective editors.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]