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Today:

*** Turning Goldfish into Gold
*** A Personal Writing Coach for Less Than $20 a Month
*** Practical Writing Prompt of the Week: Back Issue Secrets
*** Reader Feedback: From Salon Owner to Photographer

Dear Reader,

To most folks, a gold fish is a gold fish. It swims around. But to us — and by “us” I mean me, you, and your fellow readers of The Right Way to Travel — a goldfish is the ticket to some easy cash. Here’s what I mean…

Last month I flew to Chicago to visit friends for a birthday bash.

There I was, walking with my friends through the streets of Lincoln Park when all of a sudden I looked up and noticed one of Shelly Perry’s pictures hanging on the wall of a bank.

The photo had been turned into a poster to advertise low-rate mortgages. But I recognized the model right away.

One of the things Shelly always tells our photo workshop attendees is that each of us is unique — and that means that we all have something different and individual that we can bring to the stock photography world.

Shelly, for instance, has a friend who plays the cello. Now, any photographer can hire a model to hold a cello and then snap some shots of her. But the thing is, a genuine cello player will hold a cello differently than a model will. And that’s probably true of all musicians. They’re just going to look more authentic when they’re not posing, but really “doing their thing.”

I recognized the woman in the bank picture as Shelly’s cello-playing friend. The graphic designer who’d created that poster for the bank bought the picture through Shelly’s online stock portfolio.

I, of course, got all excited. I got my cell phone out, held it up to the bank window, took a picture with it, and sent the picture right then to Shelly to show her.

What a cool feeling that was to see it blown up so big on the wall. I got a thrill from it. And it wasn’t even my picture. Imagine how Shelly felt. Imagine how you’d feel if it were your picture…

The truth is, Shelly’s photos have shown up all over the world — in glossy magazines like Oprah, Good Housekeeping, and Redbook. I actually found another one of her pictures in a coffee-table book at a hotel in Paris, too.

I like that about stock photography.

I also like that putting your photos in a stock agency eliminates the hassle of selling them, too.  Sure, your photos don’t sell for much — at least, each individual sale isn’t for a huge amount. (But it can easily and quickly add up when you’re selling a photo over and over again.) Plus really, how many other ways are there to earn money in your sleep?  Stock sites work all night. Photo buyers in France and Japan are online shopping while the rest of us are eating, showering, sleeping, driving.  And when you have the right photos to sell — the returns really can be significant.

Shelly just introduced me to another stock photographer friend of hers who I’ve also asked to speak at our upcoming workshop in Austin.

Lise Gagne is her name and she’s the number one, top-selling photographer at iStockphoto.com.  With over 600,000 downloads, Lise blows most photographers out of the water in terms of sales. And in Austin, she’s going to talk about how she got to the top.  Her story is pretty inspiring, actually. She started out with no photo experience and a so-so camera she couldn’t afford to upgrade. She really learned what she knows through trial-and-error and a lot of persistence.

And now she’s making a full-time living from her stock-photo sales. In Austin she’s going to tell us her story. But she’s also going to share some of the secrets she’s figured out the hard way. So you don’t have to. I mean, it’s the perfect way to jump-start your photography.

Don’t forget to scroll down for today’s writing prompt.

Have a great weekend.

— Lori
Lori Allen
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.]

PRACTICAL WRITING PROMPT OF THE WEEK: Research Gets You Published

Before you submit a story to any editor, you need to pay attention to what they’ve been running in their publication over the past year or so. No editor is going to run your article on skiing in the Pyrenees if they’ve covered that recently, no matter how good your story is.

This week, pick a publication you want to write for and go to the library to find back issues or look up their archives online.  Nothing will give you a better idea of what kinds of stories a publication likes to run than reading multiple issues of that publication.  Once you’ve read through a few issues and found a story that would fit with their style — but bring something new to their pages — read the writer’s guidelines to find out what they say they’re looking for.

Now sit down and write your story. While you write, be sure to match your style to theirs.

READER FEEDBACK: From Salon Owner to Photographer

“Dear Lori,

“Many good things have come from my 1st inspirational session with AWAI in San Antonio a few years back. I have begun the transformation process from a 25-year multi salon owner (sold as of 12-31-07) to a freelance photographer actually creating my own lucrative niche in the marketplace.

“With a clear vision for my future I am reflective to that 3-day course that lead me to the entry of a new path. I hope to attend another in the future. Thank you again.” – Laura Norton

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