Boarding the plane in Huntsville, AL and flying to Denver by myself last September was a giant stretch for me. Oh, I was certainly old enough, and I had done a fair amount of traveling in my lifetime. But this time I was daring to think I could have a new identity, one that didn’t include teaching elementary music or playing a church organ.
This new me would be a writer — a freelance travel writer to sound even more bold and brave. I was full of hope that the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop would teach me how to re-invent myself and arm me with the tools I needed for the task.
From the opening moments of the very first session, I knew I’d made the right decision. The presenters were well-organized, highly-prepared, and skillful in their communication. I took pages of notes to go along with the hand-outs, and I followed all instructions to the letter, as all overachievers tend to do.
In a call to my husband at the end of Day 1, I said, “I feel like I’m taking a graduate-level course in journalism. I love it. I’m so glad I came!”
Through all of the sessions and panel discussions, we were taught how to get your first by-line, knowing that those first by-lines would lead to building a portfolio of published articles which would give us credibility with more editors and the likelihood of great press trips, free travel perks and, of course, MONEY! Three, we were told, was the magic number of by-lines before you could truly declare yourself to be a travel writer.
While we were still in Denver, I started making lists of story ideas and searching for publications that might want them. I found one called Epicurean-Traveler.com and pitched my description of an evening spent in a trattoria perched on a mountainside overlooking the Mediterranean in Positano, Italy.
The editor liked it. I wrote my story. And, by October 1, 2015, I had my first by-line.
One of our assignments in Denver was to spend four or five hours exploring an attraction in the city that captured our interest. I took a taxi to the home and museum of Unsinkable Molly Brown. That fascinating tour led to a story published in TravelThruHistory.com on October 19, 2015.
In my quest for publications, I learned that TravelPostMonthly.com gives special consideration to writers who have attended the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop, so I pitched a story about having dinner at the Rattlesnake Saloon, a restaurant in a large cave about an hour from my home. It was accepted and published on November 2, 2015. And just like that, I had my 3 by-lines!
Suddenly, I saw myself truly as a freelance travel journalist, and I haven’t looked back.
Now, eight months post-Denver, I have over 40 by-lines published in 10 different magazines and websites, and my husband and I have enjoyed over $4,000 in travel perks.
Here I am enjoying the Dickens Festival in Franklin, TN with two people in period costumes:
If you are considering taking the plunge, I believe you’ll be oh-so-glad you did. And I’d love to meet you in New Orleans this September.
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