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Today:
*** Your Frequent-Flyer Miles Are at Risk — What to Do about It
*** Practical Writing Prompt of the Week: Find a Niche Audience
*** Reader Feedback: Hotel Perks

Dear Reader,

No use sitting any longer on your frequent-flyer miles. Do so, and you’re likely to lose them.

Airlines have been quietly — and one after another — changing their frequent-flyer policies, shortening the length of time you can keep your accumulated miles.

It used to be that you could horde them for years with no penalty. But nowadays, many airlines demand you show “activity” of some sort on your account (either you redeem miles or accumulate more) within a certain number of months, usually 18. If you don’t… they’ll zero out your account.

This recently happened to me when I lost 150,000 US Airways miles I’d more-or-less forgotten about. It was a needless loss I could have easily avoided — and I needn’t have taken a US Airways flight to do it.

I could have kept my account active, for instance, by using a small number of those miles to purchase a magazine subscription or Starbucks coffee. I’d have been down a few miles, sure, but I’d have retained the majority.

Or I might have kept my account active by accumulating a few additional miles shopping online at a US Airways partner store — like Target, Gap, or Staples. I’d have simply needed to make my purchase through the US Airways site.

Take 10 minutes this week to assess the status of your own frequent-flyer miles. In all likelihood, you’re at risk of losing them if you don’t take some action soon.

United Airlines announced their “stay active” policy this past January, and American Airlines followed suit earlier this week.

To cash in your miles for products instead of flights, visit: www.points.com, where it’s free to register and you’ll be presented with all sorts of places your miles are as good as greenbacks.

To earn miles when you make purchases from a whole range of retailers, visit each airline’s frequent-flyer website and find the link for their partner offers.

Of course, you can also keep a frequent-flyer account active by flying that airline.

— Jen
Jennifer Stevens
Guest Editor, The Right Way to Travel

P.S. Look tomorrow for an article from Steenie on writing for foreign markets. They provide a splendid outlet for your “local” coverage, and there’s lots of opportunity (and often less competition) with English-language publications overseas.

P.P.S. Know a friend or two who’d enjoy the freedom and independence of a writer’s or photographer’s life? They, too, can sign up to receive this free e-letter here: http://www.thetravelwriterslife.com/eletter

PRACTICAL WRITING PROMPT OF THE WEEK:

An excellent way to improve your chances of selling an article is to narrow your audience when you’re defining your idea. Think niche.  Take a story idea you’ve been musing about (or maybe even a story you’ve already written) and define it, more narrowly, for a very specific audience.

For example, say you’ve been thinking about doing a round-up piece on three B&Bs in town (or anywhere you know).

Use that general idea as your starting point, but then think about two ways you could tweak it for subsets of readers.  You could, for instance, write “Have Dog, Will Travel: Three Pet-Friendly Chicago B&Bs” for a reader traveling with his dog.

Or you could write “Three Chicago B&Bs Rich in Hospitality and History” for a reader interested in staying in an historic property.

Or you could look for a “cultural travel” angle, perhaps something that might work for this week’s Featured Publication, Soul of America.

This weekend, go out in search of fodder for niche-market pieces you could write next week.

READER FEEDBACK: Travel Perks

“Dear Jennifer,
“I got my first perk as a travel writer!  I purchased my Ultimate Travel Writer’s program late last year. Next week I’ll be in Calgary for a conference, held in a 5-star hotel. From your emails and your course content, I thought ‘let me give this a try.’

“I wrote the GM of the hotel, and since I already have a group rate with the conference, she upgraded me to the Fairmont Gold, and said her manager will take care of my needs.  I am SOOOOO excited!!! Thought you might be interested in this news. I’ll submit my first travel article to International Living with photographs when I return from the trip.” — Estrella Chan

For more reader success stories, visit:
The Travel Writer’s Life: http://www.thetravelwriterslife.com/member_success_stories/
The Photographer’s Life: http://www.thephotographerslife.com/success_stories/
Our Wall of Fame: http://www.thetravelwriterslife.com/wall_of_fame/

[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.]

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