Getting paid for your travels is easy when you know how to give editors what they need.
So, I asked International Living Magazine Executive Editor, Jennifer Stevens, to share her predictions for travel writing in 2012.
You’ll find them below…
FIVE PREDICTIONS: ADVICE FOR TRAVEL WRITERS IN 2012
By Jennifer Stevens in Colorado Springs, Colorado
The year may be new, but the elements that make a good travel story are not. Still, the way those stories are packaged and consumed has changed. And that, in turn, is influencing what sells best.
Here’s what I think travel writers should keep in mind for 2012… tips to help you work smarter, so you sell more…
** PREDICTION #1: Demand for short, practical, “consumable” travel pieces will increase.
Print publications want more and more web content. These articles tend to be short and sweet – stories editors can run in their e-letters, notes they can easily tease (and feel comfortable giving away for free) on Facebook or Twitter.
WHAT TO DO: Make your story short and timely. Familiarize yourself with what your target publication is doing online, craft your stories to meet that format, and tell the editor that’s what you’re doing.
** PREDICTION #2: Editors will look for more – and better – quotes in your stories. In this age of the “user review,” everybody is a critic. Today we “like” posts on Facebook. We “rate” articles on websites. We monitor which stories are “most popular” on publications’ websites.
WHAT TO DO: As consumers, we place an increasing amount of stock in what our fellow consumers experience and believe. It’s always been important to talk with folks on the ground when you’re in a place writing a story. But today, it’s more critical than ever that you include “user” experiences in your articles. So ask fellow travelers why they chose a particular place. Find out what they like or dislike. Integrate this “man on the street” opinion into your articles.
** PREDICTION #3: “Insider” stories that include an element of credibility and judgment will sell well.
WHAT TO DO: Editors want stories they won’t find on the first two pages of a Google-search result. If you want to distinguish your stories – and sell them consistently – seek out the unusual. Make it clear that your tale is unique and the insights you have to share are gleaned from real-world experiences.
This helps you position yourself as a credible source. And it helps the editors distinguish the content in their publication from all the free content available at a click online.
** PREDICTION #4: Editors will seek out good photos – because they need them now more than ever.
In the old, print world, a magazine might run three or four photos to accompany a story. But now, in addition to those images, the editors might produce a multi-photo slideshow online with a whole separate set of photos… then run another shot with a Facebook post that teases the story… and include yet another in their online newsletter.
As editors seek out unique content, they’ll want the images to illustrate it. And if it’s truly unique… it won’t be easy for them to source “generic” stock shots. But if you have images that will do the job… they’ll gladly buy yours.
WHAT TO DO: Take your camera everywhere. With all the additional online content publications are posting comes a need for photos to illustrate it.
It will pay this year to learn a little something about taking better photos. You don’t need to be a pro to sell shots to accompany your stories. (But you do need to know a little something about composition!)
** PREDICTION #5: “Professional” spit and polish will help you distinguish yourself in the crowd.
You’d be shocked at the number of letters that come in to editors addressed not to Ms. So and So, but to “editor,” or letters with way too broad a story idea, or with lots about the writer’s credentials but almost nothing about the article said writer is pitching.
I don’t know if it’s because people spend so much time today writing casual e-mails and making “friends” online… whatever the reason, folks seem to have forgotten the importance of a “professional” face.
WHAT TO DO: In a field like that, it won’t be too hard to make your query stand out in 2012. Address it to the editor by name. Show that you’ve read the writer’s guidelines. Develop a specific, well-defined idea.
And, once you’ve made a sale, if the editor needs more information for your story or wants you to expand upon a portion of your piece, do it fast. And do it well.
If you have photos to offer, display them in a way that makes it easy for an editor to flip through them. These are the marks of a real pro. And, if you make them habits, you’ll not only make sales, you’ll get repeat assignments.
[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.]