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When I first announced, “I’m going to be a travel writer,” I never dreamed I’d need a cheat-sheet to mary charleboiskeep up with my 4 Ps: 

Publishers, Pitches, Published, and Pay

But as I had more and more articles accepted for publication, I knew I needed a system. So I decided to get organized.

After some trial and error, I decided to use Microsoft Word to stay organized. The easy-to-use table tool gave me what I needed: simplicity, flexibility, and share-ability.

Here’s a sample of what my 4Ps table looks like:

Publication database to help keep track of travel writing success

Quick tip: Use the table tool in MS Word to make a six-column table. If you’re new to tables, search “Help” in Word, under “make a table.” You’ll find a step-by-step tutorial that’s simple and easy to follow.

After setting up the six-column table, add your information. Include work that’s out as a query, assigned, published, and even the “no reply” or rejected pitches. Don’t worry about the chronological order. You can sort your table by date or name at any time.

Here are my tips for using the 4 Ps table:

1. Start today: It’s a good idea to start today, even if you haven’t made your first pitch. That way, you’ll be organized from the moment you start landing assignments, and you won’t have to go back and figure this out later.

2. Keep updating: Each time you pitch a story, enter the info as soon as you send off your pitch. As it’s assigned, published, and paid, also enter it in your 4 Ps table. This will keep you from sorting back through hundreds of emails.

3. Use it as a reference tool: Your list is an inventory of your publishers, pitches, published, and pay. I refer to my 4 Ps table several times a day. It helps me communicate with publishers, editors, visitor bureaus, hotels, tour operators, eateries, wineries, breweries, farmers, butchers, bakers, and candlestick-makers. They all want the same information: “Who do you write for?” “What kind of stories do you write?” “Where have you been published?” A quick glance at my 4 Ps and I have answers for queries, press trip requests and resumes.

4. Generate more ideas: I recycle my work. Occasionally, I sort my 4 Ps table by published date. Then I look for older stories I can recycle with a fresh angle and new publisher. This is a great way to get paid twice for articles about the same trip.

5. Follow up on work you’ve queried. I follow up on no-replies four weeks after my initial pitch. I use my 4 Ps table to check for follow-ups each day or two. I believe it’s a professional business practice, and it gets my name and story idea in front of the editor again.

6. Stay motivated. There are times when I feel like I’m getting nowhere and I need to do a quick progress check-up. All I need to do is look at my 4 Ps table to see the work I’ve done. I see flurries of queries that paid off with assignments shortly after, or “no pitch” patches that created “no assignment” patches. It feels good to look back over the last couple of years and see the evidence of my travel writing success.

In the end, seeing my progress also helps me establish new goals and tighten up my focus.

Good luck!

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