Editors Buy Practical Advice: Sell Your Insights on the Art of Travel
Surely you’ve learned some lessons in all the travel you’ve done.
No doubt you’ve picked up a trick or two along the way that make your trips more enjoyable or efficient or affordable now than they were years back — before you were so wise.
I’m certain you’ve got ideas, advice, and guidance to share with your fellow travelers — suggestions that can save them time or money or trouble.
Maybe you know the best way to get discount tickets to Broadway shows. Or the best place online to get bargains on good-quality luggage.
Maybe you’ve figured out how to find the best cruise deals. Or perhaps you always travel with three critical items in your “kit,” and have, as a result, never met a travel crisis you weren’t prepared to handle.
You get the idea. Editors like their publications to deliver readers practical advice. It keeps those readers coming back.
And so if you can provide an editor with an article that delivers the sort of useful guidance his readers like to get — chances are, he’ll take it.
You’ll find articles about the art of travel not only in travel publications but elsewhere as well — in newspapers’ travel sections and in the travel departments of non-travel magazines, too. A music magazine might run a piece on the best way to travel with your instrument, for example.
That means there’s a wide audience for this kind of article. And it means you’ll have a good shot at getting yours sold — provided you’ve targeted your audience correctly and your piece does, indeed, deliver the goods.
Three Examples of “Advice” Articles
Here are a few examples of such articles, to give you a more concrete sense for what I mean by “practical advice” —
- Vacation Rentals Made Easy: Our picks for the best rental sites Travel and Leisure, July 2005
- Some New Flexibility for Changing Flights on the Day of Travel New York Times, October 9, 2005
- The Lowdown on Car Rentals: Advance bookings, local agencies, shopping the web — money-saving secrets you need to know before you rent Budget Travel Online, March 30, 2005
I encourage you to read through those three pieces. I think you’ll find that while each focuses on a different topic, they share several common elements. They each make a promise and deliver on it. And they don’t just offer helpful commentary… they also show the reader how to follow through.
Your Advice Article Should Do These Two Things…
When you sit down to write an article that offers practical advice, you want to be sure that yours does the same. It should —
- Open with a very clear (and clearly stated) promise: “These 12 steps will improve your next trip,” for example. You want your reader to understand, immediately, what you’re going to give him.
- Really do deliver practical, actionable advice. Include resources. Don’t just tell the reader that lesser-known car-rental places charge lower rates, include some examples and give their websites.
As with any article — whether it be a destination-driven feature or a piece on the art of travel — you’ll have the most luck selling it if you err on the side of specificity when you’re defining your subject.
In other words, pick a narrow topic. It helps you, as a writer, to stay “on subject.” And it allows you to create more stories with your ideas. (And remember, more stories means more income.)
Nine Categories in which You Could Offer Advice
I suggest you come up with several lists of tips you might possibly write about. Divide them into categories. For example, those categories could be:
- Tips for eating well when you travel
- Tips for saving money when you book airline tickets
- Tips for packing light
- Tips for getting from the airport into town in x city
- Tips for buying luggage
- Tips for traveling with toddlers
- Tips for researching a destination before you go there
- Tips for finding the “insiders” hangouts in x city
- Tips for using credit card when you travel
Think about ways you can “divvy up” any advice you might have to offer a fellow traveler. To get your mind going, start by answering these questions:
- What sort of advice would you offer somebody about to visit a place you’ve been to?
- Did anything irk you on a recent trip? Maybe your credit card charged you a fee for withdrawing funds in a foreign currency — a fee you didn’t expect. Or maybe you discovered — too late — that you’d have been better off taking a cab into town instead of cooling your heels for a “shared ride.” Think about what lessons you’ve learned that you might share with other travelers.
- Are there things you do before every trip you take that help to ensure your trip is smooth?
- How do you save money either before or during your travels?
- How do you choose a hotel?
- Where do you turn for on-target advice about local destinations?
Now, your advice about the art of travel could apply to any destination. Or, instead, you could make it specific to a particular place. Instead of offering one or more tips about “packing” for any sort of trip, make your advice specific to “Central America” or “an overnight road trip” or “Paris.”
What’s more, think about how you can make your advice most useful to a particular subset of traveler. For example, you could write a piece on “packing” for somebody embarking on a Caribbean cruise or for a wheelchair-bound traveler.
In fact, the advice you might offer in two separate articles might, in fact, overlap. But that’s fine. Sell them to two different publications and you’ll have doubled your income.
[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.]