By freelance travel writer and editor, Roberta Beach Jacobson, in Karpathos, Greece
Do we writers grab every opportunity to promote ourselves?
Of course, we make certain our queries and submissions are neatly and correctly prepared and editors’ names correctly spelled. But do we point ourselves in the direction of success?
Some of us have designed address labels on our computers and others carry professional business cards to hand out to potential clients. We also remember to insert a “signature” containing our contact information at the bottom of each email we send to an editor. Nobody should ever roam the streets blindly finding search of us.
I also place ads containing a summary of my travel-related needs, so PR folks can contact me with the goods (a.k.a. freebies and perks).
The company I use, Travel Publicity Leads, offers free ads. I simply specify what I want — brochures about France, tickets to San Francisco museums, invitations to river boat excursions, press kits about country inns in a particular state, etc. — and wait for people to contact me. You can do the same here: www.travelpublicityleads.com.
I update my profile on this free service every 18 months so that my requests are current. I know I only want to cover Europe, but sometimes I am focusing on trade fairs and other times railways or some other aspect. You get the print newsletter containing your ad, and it’s fun to see what others in the biz are up to.
So how about yet another step, doing something so editors or publishers will really take notice of our name and remember you the next time around?
You might try small reminders. Check your desk drawers, and chances are you’ll find a variety of colorful pencils or ballpoint pens advertising banks, restaurants, hotels, and sports teams. This is only the start of the promotional pitching going on all around us every day. Look at how the corporate world promotes various logos on key chains, t-shirts, hats, coasters, magnets, bumper stickers, and posters.
I’m not suggesting we run out and have our names painted on a race car, but we freelancers could take some lessons from these corporate giants. Although our budgets are considerably smaller, we do have a product to promote to the world — our writing.
SOME IDEAS THAT WORKED
Lori said above that the freelancer she hired recently let his high-quality work speak for itself. And yours should, too. But there are a few other things you can do so you stand out in an editor’s mind.
One journalist I know paid to have a logo designed to her specs. Editors remembered her years later because of her eye-catching business stationery and matching cards. Her initial idea, done on the cheap by a graphics artist student, continues to open door after door.
Another freelancer opted to include a paper bookmark with each query he sent. I imagine that simply having a shot of color in an envelope — a red or purple bookmark — does, indeed, catch an editor’s attention when on his desk is a sea of white papers. This writer made the bookmarks on his own computer and kept his costs to a minimum.
Pocket calendars are a fairly easy way for writers or photographers to get their names circulated, too. Shop around and compare prices from various print shops. You can even have these made for you at Wal-Mart or Kinkos.
Always send editors several calendars at once, so your planned advertising campaign doesn’t just end up adorning the magazine’s mailroom wall!
I once ordered royal blue mouse pads printed with my website address. They went out (selectively) to editors along with queries or manuscripts. A few editors called to compliment me on the idea.
A word of caution: Whatever token item you decide best promotes your work, be it a pen or a bumper sticker, keep your initial costs low. Start out with a hundred or two to test your idea. If you like the results, you can easily reorder more later.
Your personal publicity campaign can’t take the place of good work and meeting deadlines, but it might just attract the extra attention that spells the difference between success and failure.
[Roberta’s travel articles have been published in Travel Smart, Transitions Abroad, The Educated Traveler, International Living, The Athens News, The International Railway Traveler and JustSayGo.com, among others. She has contributed to travel books by Lonely Planet, Survival Books, and Travelers’ Tales.]
[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.]