This time last year I’d never had anything published, and I certainly didn’t think of myself as a travel writer. But all that changed after I attended the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop last August.
My first published article started as an exercise on the streets of Boston, during the workshop. We were sent out into the city for a few hours one morning in search of a saleable article idea.
I love a great cup of coffee, and I’d heard “Beantown” had the best! No Starbucks or Dunkin’s for me – I wanted a “hole in the wall” coffee shop with personality and a story behind it, and I found it: a lovely little kiosk near Faneuil Hall that just happened to have an Australian flair.
I took copious notes and plenty of pictures. I drank strong black coffee and tried a savory meat pie (not so bad for a days’ work). Returning to class with a caffeine high, I knew the idea was appealing and that I would finish it.
Once home, I wrote many query letters, believing there just HAD to be a magazine out there somewhere that would welcome the article.
And there was. My Boston article came out that November in the magazine’s holiday issue! It was amazing to see something I had written in print… it was surreal.
I cashed my first check and took friends out for pizza and beer, my treat. It wasn’t a lot of money, but I’d earned it. I was a travel writer now! My name and pictures were out there. The feeling was heady, but otherwise indescribable.
Now, I’m writing articles for two magazines almost every month. I’m also working with my local Chamber of Commerce.
Here are a few tips for how to get something published:
1. Start local: Hometowns are a travel destination for thousands of people year round. Publications are hungry for the local flavor, written by the local people. The possibilities for me to write about and photograph in my own hometown are endless. From history to food… museums to racetracks… adventure parks to famous gardens… farmers’ markets to health spas… there’s something of interest for everyone. And the same applies to your own hometown.
2. Just do it: Submitting your article for the first time is scary. But it’s the best way to find out if your article is good enough and also the best way to learn. Remember, 80% of success if just showing up, so if you never submit an article, you’ll never know. Just do it. I’m glad I did.
3. Keep asking until someone says yes: When I submitted my first article, I didn’t just send out one query letter—I sent out many! I wanted to increase the chances that an editor would pick up my article. The more e-mails you send, and the more editors you talk to, the better your chances are. Don’t be afraid to get yourself out there. Don’t let one rejection derail your plans—keep going!
4. Always ask about free perks: This coming week I’ll be in Miami where I landed three free media passes to a “must see” attraction (I danced around in my PJs when I found out!). I’m taking my niece and her husband with me. They’ll be my models. Not only do I have several travel articles in the works, but I’ll also use my images in stock photography. What’s more, I’m hoping to pitch four or five great ideas from this one trip, once I’m off the sandy beaches and back in the city.
I love traveling like this… knowing that FUN is always ahead of me. And a great quality of life, too. This time last year, I could never have imagined traveling this way. If I can do it, I know you can, too.
[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. Sign up today here and we’ll send you a report, Get Paid to Travel as a Travel Writer, completely FREE.]