Editors — always looking for ways to keep their readers engaged — like to publish articles that are timely and “current.” As a writer, one way to meet that need is to peg your stories to a trend.
Jen Stevens spoke to this point here at our Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in Paris and gave our attendees some pointers for exactly how to do it.
She said, “The trend needn’t be in travel for you to capitalize on it. Think in terms of audience, first. And keep in mind, of course, that what’s trendy among 15-year-old girls is not likely to be trendy among 50-year-old men.
How do you know a trend when you see one?
Jen explained, “When I worked at a business magazine, we used to say you could call something a trend if you could find three instances of it. That means if you —
** (1) have one friend who’s on a committee trying to institute healthier school lunches,
** (2) pick up the newspaper and read an article about how the local organic farmers’ coop has twice as many buyers for their wares this year than last, and
** (3) learn that there’s now a Slow Food group in your hometown…
…then it’s pretty safe to say you have in hand a trend in healthier eating and attention to food.
“Once you’ve identified a trend, your next task is to put it in a travel context. Ask yourself, ‘How would (or could) this trend influence the way somebody travels? What sorts of questions would a person responding to this trend ask about a place where they’re traveling?’
“Consider our Slow Food example, for instance. It turns out there’s a Slow Travel movement. ‘Foodie’ tours exist in all sorts of countries. And you could certainly suggest a food-centric itinerary in Italy or a round-up of markets in Paris or even a piece on how to put together the perfect picnic in Barcelona.”
In the interviews with editors that Jen conducted over the past few months for the new Third Edition of her travel writing program, writing to trends emerges as a theme several times.
The small-market newspaper editor she talked with explained that while older folks are used to (and committed to) receiving and reading a newspaper every day, younger readers are not, necessarily.
As a result, papers like his are always working to attract these younger readers (many of whom are students) who tend to be budget-conscious, adventuresome, and looking for weekend diversions.
It means that when targeting that market, you’ll have the best luck selling, for example, day-trip and side-trip articles (which you could, of course, peg to a trend). And, naturally, you’ll want to seek out good-value opportunities for readers who don’t have deep pockets.
Bargain travel comes up again in Jen’s conversation with the editor at a large consumer magazine (you can listen in on it, too, with the new Third Edition of the travel writing program).
People simply like a good value, this editor contends, and that fact is evident in the travel articles they publish.
Indeed, it informs articles at most publications, and I think it’s safe to say it’s a trend in and of itself.
You know, in times past, it was really only the elite that traveled — that had the luxury of time and the money to do so.
But today, the world is so much more accessible and opportunities to explore it so much more affordable, that an extraordinary number of people are able to travel, albeit on a budget. So how do you feed this budget-travel trend? In innumerable ways… because “budget” doesn’t have to just mean “cheap.” It could mean, just as easily, “good value.”
A dollar saved is a dollar saved, and so you could sell articles that run the gamut from “$7 or Less: The Best-Value Lunch in Paris” to “Five-Star Treatment at Three-Star Prices: Pampered in Paris for $300 a Night or Less.”
Director, Great Escape Publishing
[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.]