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Dear Reader,

She uploaded six photos to an online stock agency, and they accepted four.  The next day, she had a sale.  Gloria Marchand, a fellow reader and Turn Your Pictures into Cash member sent me this note:

“Just thought I’d share another little success with you.  Since I took you up on your offer to sign up for the photo class and got the Ultimate Summer Photo Guide I studied the fireworks instructions very carefully.   Then I went out and shot about 100 photos of the local show.  I uploaded six to my stock account — they accepted four of them.  I actually sold a download of one of them yesterday!”

Gloria’s not the only one of our members to see fast sales through an online stock agency.  I’ve received several emails about similar successes since we ran our first article here about breaking into them (see e-letter archive issue “The Truth about Online Stock Agencies: What They Pay and How to Break in”.)

When I first met Shelly Perry — one of our panel of photo experts — she told me that she averages about $.75/ per month per photograph she has on file with her online stock agency.  That translates to about $500 a month in passive income for her — that’s income she’ll continue to collect even if she never uploads another picture.

(Shelly, by the way, has mastered the art of taking — and selling through an online stock agency — pictures of simple household items like curtains, crayons, even her pet goldfish. In fact, she wrote a revealing, step-by-step lesson about exactly how you do it in Turn Your Pictures into Cash.

It’s worth your while, I’d say, to try selling your photos that way. Indeed, if the letters from our readers about their own successes with online agencies are any indication, you’ll find it not just fun and rewarding — but potentially very lucrative, too.

Charles Belitz also wrote in with a success story — his about not just photos, but a published article, too.  He writes…

“In June 2005, I had a 1700-word travel article with two photos published in the newspaper. This month, that article won first prize for published newspaper articles at the Southern Christian Writers Conference in Tuscaloosa, AL.”

Long-time readers of this e-letter know that we always encourage you to resurrect old articles to get more mileage out of them — as word-for-word re-sales, reworked material, or, as in this case, as contest entries.

I’m willing to bet that Chuck’s article — published once, and then a prize winner, could potentially be a very lucrative piece. How? By selling it again (and again) in non-competing markets. For details, review one of our most recent e-letters on buying rights and reselling articles (see issue “How to Use Buying Rights and Copyright to Your Best Advantage” in our archives).

And speaking of selling articles, we get this question a lot…

“Can you sell an article about a place when you’ve received free stuff — hotel rooms, theater tickets, meals?”

In a word: Yes.  I’ll let freelance travel writer Steenie Harvey explain how, below…

And as always — let me know about your travel-writing or photography successes. If you have a story to share, send me a quick note at lori@thetravelwriterslife.com.

Have a great weekend,

— Lori

Lori Appling
Director, Great Escape Publishing

GORGE YOURSELF ON FREE SUSHI — BUT DON’T TRY SELLING YOUR STORY TO THE DENVER POST
By freelance travel writer, Steenie Harvey in Ireland

Travel writers. We’re corrupt… our work is tainted… readers shouldn’t trust our recommendations.

That’s what Miami Herald readers probably believe after seeing this headline in the business section: “When visiting South Beach, be sure to try the free sushi, nightclubs, cocktails and hotel rooms. But only if you’re a travel writer.”

The five writers who found themselves in the spotlight were Brits. And the journalist who penned the article could barely hide his outrage. He made my compatriots sound like the most loathsome bunch of freeloaders ever to roam the earth.

The article pointed out they’d gotten free round-trip airfare from London, complimentary rooms in South Beach and Fort Lauderdale, and six days of gratis meals. But that wasn’t all…

Our writers lolled around in a “boudoir-themed hotspot.” They sipped an “amuse-bouche of lobster bisque.” They stuffed their faces with dulce de leche soufflés and molten chocolate cakes.

Thing is, press trips can be hard work… and that wasn’t mentioned. After a 10-hour daily slog of non-stop sightseeing, what’s wrong with a $750 night out where somebody else picks up the tab?

In my view, nothing. But according to the travel editors of some US newspapers, there’s plenty wrong with it. Many won’t use articles about destinations where a writer has accepted complimentary or subsidized travel. As a freelancer, it’s something you need to be aware of.

At Great Escape Publishing’s recent Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in Denver, Kyle Wagner, travel editor of the Denver Post, made this very clear. Although Kyle realizes that without “comps,” most freelancers need to sell many, many articles to make a trip pay, that’s our problem. Her newspaper’s policy is to accept no pieces where complimentary travel or accommodations are involved.

The thinking is that by going on junkets, writers are compromised. ”If you’re recommending a place because you’ve been led by the nose by a publicist to the place, to me that sounds fishy,” said Chicago Tribune travel editor Randy Curwen.

It seems unfair. Sports writers get free tickets (and the best seats in the stadium). Music and book reviewers get free CDS and books. And contributors to motoring sections do not buy a brand-new Porsche before they test-drive it. Nobody calls their judgment into question.

But are travel writers compromised? Can you keep your writing trustworthy?  Personally I think it depends on the individual.

It’s not obligatory to gush because a hotel gives you a free or a subsidized rate. I wrote this for International Living about a hotel in Vilnius (Lithuania), which gave me a press rate of $40 a night:

“Near the Gates of Dawn, the 3-star City Gate Hotel isn’t exactly luxurious. Not only was the room poky, a curtain pole fell down and almost took my eye out. But given Vilnius’ grossly overpriced rates for better hotels, it’s one to consider. Doubles 300 litas ($109) nightly. Breakfast is included.”

Even leaving aside press trips, most freelancers need complimentary or reduced-rate accommodation to make an out-of-town trip pay well. So you may wonder how can you accept hospitality when the host (hotel, restaurant, Convention Bureau, etc) expects a mention.

Well, here are three ways to keep on the straight and narrow

1)  Most magazines don’t have problems with comps. So avoid pitching stories to places that do. You’ll find a publication’s policy in the Writers’ Guidelines. If comps aren’t mentioned, you can presume it’s OK.

My editor at International Living passes on “invites.” And most British newspapers are fine about them too — the Daily Telegraph actually sent me on a British Airways Press Trip to Borneo. (No boudoir-themed hotspots there, unfortunately.)

Publications that prefer writers to sleep in alleyways and faint from hunger carry guidelines something like these:

“The Travel Section will not publish articles that grow out of trips paid for or in any way subsidized by an airline, hotel, tourist board or other organization with an interest, direct or indirect, in the subject of an article.” — New York Times.

“We do not accept material produced by journalists receiving benefits (such as free travel) from any entity or person who could be perceived as an interested party to the story.” — Christian Science Monitor. (Yes, they do use travel stories.)

2) Take a Press Trip or Fam tour, and have stories lined up for editors who have no problem with comps. Then stay on for a day or two extra at your own expense. Move out of the flashy hotel and into a cheap B&B — one you have a receipt for and can mention in another article for the likes of the Denver Post.

3) Produce additional stories that have nothing to do with restaurants or accommodations. I wrote a piece for The Washington Post — which also bans freebies — about a pilgrimage climb up one of Ireland’s holy mountains. In other words, do something beyond the press-trip itinerary.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Steenie Harvey is International Living’s roving Euro-editor and a freelancer whose by-line has appeared in such illustrious publications as The Washington Post, The World & I, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, and The World of Hibernia among many others in the States, Ireland, Britain, Australia, and Germany.

If you’ve been to one of our live travel writer workshops, you know that she’s an absolute riot! Her presentations — an entire day of tricks for charming editors and landing the best assignments — not only keep students laughing (nearly to the point of tears on occasion) but they also drive home some really important lessons about dealing with editors.]

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