By freelance travel writer, guidebook author, and photographer, B. Howard in Cleveland, TN.
If you’ve been diligently submitting articles and photos to editors and have yet to land a by-line, please don’t be discouraged. It takes a certain amount of diligence. I spent three years in search of my first by-line. And I assure you, you can land one in a fraction of that time.
After all, you have at your disposal the insider secrets that make up Jen Stevens’ Ultimate Travel Writer’s Course and those, too, that you’ll find in my photography course, Turn Your Pictures into Cash.
In addition, here are five sure-fire ways you can get your writing or your images in front of the public.
1) Enter photo contests. We talked at length about these last week, but I’ll recap here. There are hundreds of opportunities to enter legitimate contests. The organizers don’t ask for money, and they do exactly what they say they will do. They will provide you with an honest critique of your work (in most cases), and they provide you valuable experience. And, if you win, you WILL see your photos in print.
I suggest you start with your local paper. The local newspaper here in Chattenooga, for instance, runs a photo contest every year. Perhaps yours does, too. Travel magazines like National Geographic Traveler, Islands Magazine, Budget Travel, and others run contests too.
One of best local contests I know is the annual one run by Kodak in the nation’s newspapers. Every year, most of the major newspapers run these contests, usually over a period of several weeks. The idea is that the newspaper staff choose the local winner who then moves on to the next level, and the winner of that level goes on to the national championship.
2) Your small-town newspaper editor is always looking for something new and interesting on a local level. If you can provide him new and exciting articles and images of your local attractions and places of interest, I can almost guarantee he will want to publish them. This will provide you with a by-line for sure, and maybe even a check.
3) Many local coffee shops love to hang work by local artists on their walls. True you’ll need to have your images matted and framed. But the local coffee shop is a great place for you to make a sale or two. And what better confirmation of your talent could there ever be than to have someone willing to actually pay you for photographs you shot?
4) The local art gallery is another option. I know of at least four galleries in my home town of Chattanooga that are willing to look at photography by local artists. A good friend of mine made many thousands of dollars of a period of several years in just one such gallery. Look in the Yellow Pages. Grab your portfolio, go visit, take a look at what they are doing, then ask for the owner and make your pitch. Can’t hurt, and you just might find yourself with a one-man/woman show.
5) Small online stock agencies are a good place to start too. These days you’ll find any number of them willing to take on new and inexperienced photographers. This is a good thing, and you should try to take advantage of the opportunity. It will give you experience in the professional world and it will provide you with a by-line: “my work is represented by…”
They will not pay you very much for your images, but when you are a beginner, who cares? It’s the thrill of knowing someone other than yourself likes your work. That’s what counts.
[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.]