Yesterday I sent you a success story and tips on getting press trips from fellow reader and ITWPA member, Dawn-Marie Hanrahan. If you missed it, you’ll find it here in our e-letter archives: Reader Nabs Travel Column and Free Press Tips
Today, as the second issue in our Reader Success Series, I’m sending you a story from reader Linda Steinmuller, who began her writing career after coming to the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop a few years back… and, soon after, managed to sell a series of travel articles to a non-travel publication.
Scroll down to read her story and advice on getting editors to let you write what you love…
Director, Great Escape Publishing
P.S. After coming to the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop, Linda landed a gig writing for her local newspaper. And she’s not the only reader enjoying such success. Bette BonFleur came up with an idea for a travel column for her local TV Station website, pitched it to them, and landed the job. And Dawn-Marie Hanrahan did the same with her local newspaper. There’s plenty of opportunity out there — you just have to get out there and get started.
GOT AN IDEA? GET YOUR PITCH TOGETHER, FIRST
By fellow reader, Linda Steinmuller
My writing career kicked off over three years ago, after I attended AWAI’s Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in my hometown of New York City. One important thing that I learned at the workshop was to start “local.”
With little writing experience under my belt, I walked into the office of my local Brooklyn newspaper, the Canarsie Courier, with an article I had written on a local event as a writing sample. They hired me as a freelance writer.
Over the next two years, I wrote feature articles for the newspaper, covering local people’s accomplishments. I dreamed of writing a weekly column for the Courier like “Day Trips from Brooklyn,” but they just weren’t looking for travel articles.
Then, with the onset of harder economic times and last summer’s rising gas prices, people were taking fewer vacations and traveling locally. It seemed a fitting time to pitch my idea to the Courier again.
I approached my editor based on the notion that people just weren’t traveling far. I mentioned that there were tons of great things to do right here in Brooklyn and the rest of New York City — many of them discounted or free.
They loved the idea and agreed to publish a series of five “staycation” articles over the summer of 2008. Each article focused on a different area and theme (outdoors, culture, etc.) with an emphasis on special savings at each venue.
As a travel writer, I’ve learned to focus on these three important points:
** 1. Be an opportunity analyst. Identify a problem (i.e. what does someone need?) and offer a solution. For example, people need inexpensive trips where they don’t have to spend a lot of money on gas and airfare. One solution is to take a “staycation.”
** 2. Be persistent. You may pitch an idea at one point in time that a publication doesn’t need, but, over time, their needs may change, too.
** 3. Plan your pitch. Don’t just walk up to your editor and say “I’d like to write some articles on staycations.” Present valid reasons why the publication needs your article… and needs it now. For example, “In the present economy, with high fuel costs, people can’t afford to travel as before. Since a vacation is beyond the reach of many families, parents are looking for alternative ways to keep their kids busy. There is a vast array of wonderful things to do in New York City, many of which are discounted or free. I propose a series of articles on staycations that offers advice on things to do in the local area that will save on gas… and suit the family budget.”
[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.]