FROM HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL TO TRAVEL WRITER: HOW I LANDED MY FIRST FEW ASSIGNMENTS AND HOW I CONTINUE FIND WORK TODAY
By Wendy VanHatten in Sergeant Bluff, IA.
When I was a guest at Great Escape Publishing’s travel writing workshop in Denver this past July, I had several people ask me who I write for and where I find all the publications that publish my work.
My answer is never any different than what Great Escape Publishing tells you to do in their written program and workshops. (After all, that’s where I got my start too.) But since I truly believe in their approach and I like the idea that my story might help others to enjoy the same success I’ve created for myself, I’ll tell you again.
So here it is – in my own words – how I got my first assignment and how I continue to find work today…
HOW I LANDED MY FIRST ASSIGNMENT
I followed one of Jennifer Stevens’ suggestions to look around my local area for publications that print or might print a small travel piece. I needed “clips” Jen said, if I was going to submit to larger publications. So I found a quarterly regional magazine that paid a small amount for my 6oo word articles. They liked my first article enough that they offered me the “job” of writing for them regularly.
MY ADVICE TO YOU…
Try your local newspaper, Chamber of Commerce or hotel flyers. Remember, your home may seem common to you but for someone else it could be a travel destination.
Write about an upcoming festival for any one of your local publications. Or highlight last year’s art fair, including dates and places for the next one. Maybe your town has an annual garden tour that brings people in from other towns. Whatever it is, be sure to give the editor time to get it printed and the reader enough time to put it on their calendar.
ONE BYLINE LEADS TO ANOTHER
After scouting out my local options, I researched online publications. Many of these readily accept articles by freelance writers. Some pay a small amount and some pay more. Again, the key was getting “clips” under my belt, so to speak. So I didn’t care so much about the money. And again, I turned to my Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program and the workbook that I brought home from my first workshop (back when I was attending workshops as an attendee rather than guest speaker). Many of the sites I had the most luck with were listed there. Some of my favorites are www.roadandtravel.com, www.journeywoman.com, www.greatestescapes.com.
Over the past years I have developed relationships with many editors of these publications. Because of that relationship, I still write for them. Not only have I found a good market for my articles, but good friends as well.
MY ADVICE TO YOU…
Subscribe to numerous online publications geared toward writers. You’ll get all sorts of good information, including new or existing publications that accept freelance work. Some of the publications might not sound like they want travel articles, but read their guidelines and back issues to see if they have a travel section. Ones worth reading include Writers’ Weekly, Media Kitty, Tango Diva.
Keep an archive of the “Featured Publication” emails Great Escape Publishing sends too. These are all markets open to freelance writers. I even write a few of these myself. Whenever I get something published somewhere, I let Great Escape Publishing know and I write it up as a resource for you, my fellow reader.
You should also get a copy of Writer’s Market. That helped my research for both online and print publications. Their information on which publications accept freelance work, number of words for an article, what style they like the articles written in, and names of editors is invaluable.
AND THEN THERE WERE MORE
Once I became comfortable writing query letters and articles for online publications, I branched out into larger magazine markets. In fact, I would pick up any magazine I came across in my day to see if they had a travel section. I started thinking of what I could write for this market that included travel.
Magazines such as Horse Woman, Cat Fancy, I Love Cats, Highlights for Children and Reunion Magazine might not seem like your typical travel magazine. But check out the writers’ guidelines to see what you could write for them. You might be surprised.
From there I gained a confidence about my writing. Some publications accepted my articles. Some told me they were not accepting at that time, but to contact them later. When I did, I was pleasantly surprised. They accepted the next one I submitted.
All of this was accomplished over the course of a couple of months after completing Great Escape Publishing’s Travel Writing program. To me, this was not “work”. This was a goal I was determined to meet once I completed the program. And I did it. And I still do it today.
I always pick up odd publications when I see them. I still sign up for new online magazines and web sites. I am always on the look out for new and different places to become published.
That will never stop. I am a travel writer. I enjoy traveling and I enjoy writing about it.
I think you will too.
[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.]