One of my favorite movies is Field of Dreams. Kevin Costner plays an Iowa corn farmer who hears a voice telling him to build a baseball diamond in his fields. “If you build it, he will come” says the whispered message from somewhere beyond over and over again.
Though his brother-in-law and neighbors think he’s literally lost his mind, he takes the risk and builds that baseball field. Come they did, visitors by the droves, along with the 1919 Chicago White Sox baseball team, including the famous Shoeless Joe Jackson and another surprise visitor.
What does this have to do with travel writing?
In transitioning from my life as a full-time nurse to full-time travel writer, I picked up some crucial building blocks in my journey to more than 400 articles. These learned skills played a major role in my success story. Today I no longer regularly reach out to publications or tourism boards.
Why? Because I worked at building success as a travel writer and now, more often than not, editors come to me, much like Kevin Costner’s baseball players.
Here are some key elements to master if you want to find yourself in demand as a travel writer, and get editors to come to you.
Build a Strong Foundation
A good structure begins with a firm, solid foundation. It’s no different with travel writing. My strong foundation was built as a result of attending the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in 2014.
You don’t just wake up one day and instantly become a successful travel writer. Like any profession, you need some basic training and to learn the lay of the land. You have to know the ins and outs of the industry and have an inside track to what editors want, how to target your story to a publication, and discover ways to compete for the holy grail of all-inclusive press trips.
Get Out There and Make it Happen
You must take action to get results. Basketball great Michael Jordan says that, “Some people want to make it happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.”
If you never write that story, ask that question, or hit that send button, nothing is going to happen. Even those who’ve experienced some trepidation (and we all have) will tell you that once they had that first article accepted and saw their name in print for the very first time, it was one of the best feelings in the world. But it doesn’t happen by magic. You have to believe in yourself enough to take that chance. Trust me, it’s so worth it!
Establish Your Pattern of Excellence
Editors receive hundreds of emails from writers with story pitches or articles hoping to find a home. When a travel writer establishes themselves as an excellent writer, is on-time or early with their story submissions and easy to work with, it will impress an editor—and they’ll come calling.
Likewise, tourism boards will tell you they love working with writers who clearly understand the quid pro quo of requesting complimentary destination stays. Good writers are considerate, concise with their requests, have writing assignments in hand, and follow through with social media shares and with the articles when published.
Tap the Power of Networking
Savvy writers know that it’s impossible to keep an eye on everything that’s changing within our dynamic travel writing world. But joining professional organizations exponentially increases your circle of contacts. You find out which new magazines have popped up on the scene looking for freelance writers, which ones pay the most, and even who to contact at a destination for press trip assistance. It’s the old adage that no one knows everything, but all of us know something, therefore we all know more. I can guarantee I wouldn’t be where I am today without my network.
Once you build the foundation, hit the send button, establish your personal pattern of excellence, and tap into the power of networking, these building blocks will ensure that great things will indeed happen.