FROM MUSIC WRITER TO TRAVEL WRITER: HOW KEVIN WIERZBICKI LANDED HIS FIRST 2 BYLINES
LA: Hi Kevin. Before we get started why don’t you tell us a little about yourself.
KW: I am originally from Flint, Michigan and have lived in the Phoenix metropolitan area for almost thirty years. I run an Internet gem & mineral business and I am also an Oxyfresh Independent Distributor (health care products).
LA: What attracted you to Travel Writing? Had you ever considered being a Travel Writer before you saw our course?
KW: I got the travel bug early — dad took our family overseas (Malawi, Africa) for his work when I was a pre-teen (I am now 47). We spent two years in Africa, so I got to see many countries and many things. I’ve had wanderlust ever since. Because I was already somewhat successful at music writing, I thought I would try to put my love of adventure and my writing skills together. It really hadn’t dawned on me to do this until I saw the ad for your course. By the way, I hope to re-visit Malawi as a travel writer!
LA: You recently wrote us and said that you’ve had some success getting published. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? How did you approach the editor?
KW: This was a case, really, of stretching what I already knew how to do. I took my knowledge of music and combined it with a desire to go to South by Southwest in Austin (the country’s biggest annual music festival). Then I solicited numerous publications for interest in an “event” article. This event is held in March, so I sent out inquiries in January, and two publications responded. My inquiries went out by e-mail, as per the writer’s guidelines for these publications. The result was pieces published in Los Angeles and Tucson.
LA: Are you currently working on any articles or projects?
KW: Yes. I went to the Bay Area Media Day in Oakland this past June where I met many public relations people from states, countries, cities, cruise lines, hotels, etc. While I was there, I arranged a FAM tour of the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver, which I just returned from last week. I am currently writing several pieces of different lengths about the historic hotel and will be seeking placement for them shortly. I’ll return to Denver in mid-September to attend their (big!) gem & mineral show, and will write about that event (since I have an Internet gem & mineral business, this is another case of “stretching” what I already know how to do). I am also in the process of arranging an overseas trip for a piece on “cultural tourism” (volunteer vacations). I have a “letter of assignment” from a Los Angeles publication for this, and the details should be worked out soon. I am also confirmed to attend the Tucson Media Showcase in November. This is a big three-day conference where I expect to make more connections and arrange more FAM trips, etc.
LA: What, specifically, about the written course do you think helped you so much?
KW: I especially appreciated the “7 winning travel article templates.” They provide a way to approach any idea or angle you could possibly think of! If you learn these, you are well on your way. I also liked the way the entire program was written with the “you can do it!” theme. The course greatly benefited me and I would not hesitate to recommend it to others for that reason.
LA: What advice would you give to new students who haven’t yet had an article published?
KW: If you want to do it, you can do it. Keep studying the course and any other info you can get your hands on. Work on your writing skills daily if you can. Buy a copy of Travel Publications Update from Marco Polo publishers — it lists hundreds of publications that need travel articles and gives the writer’s guidelines for each. I would also suggest scouring local and regional publications for travel sections — these may be good places to start. And if the local paper or magazine doesn’t have a travel section, why not approach them about starting one? I have found that once you’re tuned in to what you want to do, the opportunities are endless.
[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.]