Chickens and Travel Writing
*** Michelle vs. the Chicken: Where Can You Sell this Story
*** Practical Writing Prompt of the Week: Writing about Your Misadventures
*** Reader Feedback: How to Sell Yourself to an Editor (or Photo Buyer) with Little or No Experience
Michelle Sedita is a very lucky woman.
Or maybe it’s not luck. Maybe Michelle just knows something about chickens (and their bowel movements) that I don’t.
Let me explain: This past Tuesday, I put together a teleconference with four savvy international travelers and I told them that their mission was to give our listeners some insight into how they consistently fund their travels through travel writing, photography, and import/export.
On that call, freelance travel writer Jennifer Stevens told the story of a trip she took to Belize and her experience in a bar there, where the patrons could place bets on where a live chicken would “do his business.”
Out in back, painted on a concrete slab, was a grid. And in each square was a number. Patrons placed their bets on the numbers. And then the bartender released a chicken onto the grid. If the chicken went to the bathroom on your numbered square, you won the pot. The Chicken Drop it’s called.
Well, I’d heard Jen’s story before, and last year, when I was in Belize, I went in search of said bar. Turns out Jen isn’t the only one who’d been there. My friend and colleague Michelle Sedita at Agora Travel told me that when she played the game, she won several hundred dollars.
Me… my luck wasn’t so good. The only thing I got that night was a hang over and a sore throat from screaming at the chicken (as if that would somehow help my chances… poor little guy).
So what does this have to do with travel writing?
Well, Jen used this story on our call the other night to illustrate a point about finding the right audience for your travel articles. Writing a travel article, she said, is really just telling a story. And for a story to be well received, you need to tell it to somebody who would appreciate it.
Would you tell your mother about the Chicken Drop? Jen asked. No. You’d tell your drinking buddies that story. Your mom would likely be more interested in a story about the custom-made jewelry you’d spotted at a little shop just off the beach.
“Find the right audience for your stories,” Jen said, “and you’ll sell more articles. That’s what separates a successful travel writer from an average one.”
So how do you find the right audience, you ask?
Truth is, it’s not that hard. But it does take a little more explanation than I’ve got room to give here. So go back through our free eletter archives and review:
Tomorrow, Shelly Perry continues with her tips on taking photos that make for great holiday gifts. Even if you’re already finished with your holiday shopping, you might consider adding a framed photograph or two as an extra special touch.
Tune in tomorrow to find out how.
Have a great weekend,
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
On Tuesday’s Fund Your Travels call, freelance travel writer Stan Sinberg told us that he often likes to write articles about things that go wrong on his trips. This helps sell his photos too, he said. That’s because it’s not likely that a magazine or newspaper would bother to send a professional photographer down to get the pictures they need to illustrate Stan’s misadventures.
And, in fact, most of the time he’s really the only one who could take the pictures. He’s the one who’s found himself in some pickle or other. So an editor’s only choice is to buy the photos Stan took when the mishap occurred.
Have you ever had something go wrong when you were traveling that probably wasn’t funny at the time… but is funny now?
Commit to putting your story on paper this weekend and consider sending it to the Travel Post Monthly for your first by-line.
You’ll find their writer’s guidelines here: http://www.travelpostmonthly.com
READER FEEDBACK: How Do I Convince an Editor I Can Write the Story?
Ellen S. in Columbus, Ohio asks: “If I don’t have clips, how can I convince an editor to assign me a story? Or, for that matter, receive a press trip? It seems like a ‘Catch-22.’ You need clips to get an assignment, but if you don’t have an assignment, you can’t get clips.”
Well, for starters, you don’t need to land an assignment to get your first clip. There are many local publications out there that are looking for material, and while they might not pay much, they can help you build a clip file of published articles before you approach another editor.
But there’s also a saying: “Fake it till you make it.” What editors want to see is a track record of consistently good ideas and writing. You can put up your own website and post your writing on it. Or set up a blog and develop a readership. Print up business cards and announce yourself as a “travel writer.”