There was just something special about that email from the editor that read “Congratulations. Your story will appear in next month’s magazine!” That response was a magic number for me. It was my 100th article accepted for publication.
I wasn’t always a travel writer. For 34 years, I’ve worn the
title of “Registered Nurse” with pride. And the personal rewards have been many. But, ready to move on to something more fun and relaxing, I kept searching for the magical sign that would guide me to the path of a new and fulfilling career.
I’ve always loved to travel. But, I had no idea that publications actually paid freelance writers for their stories and photographs. I naively thought magazines used their own staff writers.
On the sound advice of a friend, I attended the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program in San Diego in September 2014, and, from Day One, I realized this was the sign I was looking for. I immediately made it my personal goal to make the program work for me.
My first article was accepted for publication a little over one month later. But, how does someone who has never written a travel article before, get 100 articles accepted in only 18 months? Here’s how…
I followed Great Escape’s Publishing Program plan and submitted that first article within 10 days (that’s the blueprint they give you). With hands shaking and heart pounding, I hit the “send” button. Then, I began working on my second article (again, part of the plan).
And I just kept writing. I call it “priming the pump,” because I knew, that with only one story submitted, waiting for an editor’s response would have me on the edge of my seat.
I began to build a database of publications, starting with my own hometown. You might write a great story, but, without a place to send it, that great story will never be read. I used on-line searches, went to bookstores, hit the grocery store racks with free publications, and even checked out my local car wash. Carefully following writer submission guidelines, I quickly landed articles in three separate local print publications.
Tackling my first query (or pitch, as it’s also called) was a little frightening at first. But, once again, I followed the expert guidance of the program presenters and sent out my first query. Imagine my surprise when only two hours later, one of the editors loved the idea and invited me to write the story – a nicely paying one to boot!
Keeping the ball rolling
I found that the more I wrote, the easier it became. Stories beget stories, and I believe travel writing rewires our brains, enabling us to keep finding new opportunities. I kept a notebook by my bed, one in the car, one in my purse, and one in my camera bag. That way, when an idea would strike, I had somewhere to write it down. And a vast majority of those ideas eventually became published articles.
I set goals for myself that are attainable and achievable. For example, I set time aside each week to research new outlets for my stories. It’s always exciting to find a magazine or website I never knew about before.
I practiced what I learned from the travel writer’s program, honing my writing skills to make each story better than the last. To sell a story, you need to take the reader on the journey with you.
Building relationships with editors and publishers has proved crucial. I make every effort to write a good story, then, deliver that story on-time, or even ahead of schedule. As a result, I’ve had editors coming to me for article ideas I never even had to pitch.
Once I had several bylines under my belt, I began applying for press trips and contacting visitors’ bureaus for individual assistance in visiting museums, historical sites, restaurants, and more. Those bylines gave me vital credibility and proved that I’d been published. And the editors I formed good relationships with were more than happy to provide me letters of assignment.
Networking with other travel writers who have come through the program or I’ve met on my travels has also been extremely helpful and rewarding. Those relationships have fostered new ideas, identified new writing opportunities, often resulting in yet another published story.
I’m not going to say that getting to 100 articles didn’t take hard work and perseverance. It did. But, having a road map to travel writing success made it that much easier.
I am living the life of a travel writer and loving every minute of it.