Theresa St John

Posted by & filed under Travel Writing.

One of the most fun things about FAM trips (aside from free travel) is meeting new people. Not only do you get a whole new perspective when you talk to folks on your travels, but you also build a network of peers and contacts.

Travel writer Theresa St John

Even before you’re an established travel writer, think about networking. It will prove to be the most important tool in landing things like free meals, hotel stays, even private tours at extraordinary attractions.

Here are five ways you can build your network and move forward in your travel writing career and lifestyle, no matter how “beginner” you feel right now…

1. Work with your local Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Bureau

Step out of your comfort zone. Every successful freelancer will tell you the same thing: You need to be able to approach folks who can help you.

Often, you’ll learn that a tourism bureau or city center has spent a great deal of time and money looking for someone just like you. They need help in getting the word out about their area, which means this can work into a sweet relationship, a ‘Quid Pro Quo,’ for you both.

2. Never expect freebies

When you approach a place or a person announcing you’re a travel writer and/or photographer, you need to be careful with any request you may have. Of course, we want the red carpet to be rolled out for us. After all, it happens to other writers, why not us?

The way you request things – the very wording you use – has an enormous effect on the outcome of your visit. Instead of asking for a free stay, try asking for a “media rate.” That one phrase can open up the world to you. Stay humble and you’ll be treated like royalty.

3. Be believable, stay credible

Anyone can say they are a travel writer, just like anyone can say they’re a jeweler or an airline pilot. What makes you believable, especially in the beginning? Credentials. So, think about joining an established organization, such as the ITWPA. Wearing that journalist tag will help in landing complimentary tickets, private tours, stays in 5-star hotels, and free travel, because PR professionals believe you’re a professional, also.

4. Branch out

Since the start of my travel writing lifestyle in 2013, I’ve actually had several media trips planned around my own personal interests. Right now, I’m just back from Maine where I spent six jam-packed days touring the coast.

My contact at the tourism bureau (yes, networking!) set up two separate 4-star resort stays, included all of my meals, entrance into five museums, a visit to two lighthouses, and a gift card with $250 on it, because, well, I “might want to buy a trinket to bring home.” The gift card and personal note was left for me at the front desk with my media packet.

5. Do what you said you would do

My trip to Maine added up to nearly $1,800 in comps. Carol, my contact, worked hard on my itinerary. Everything I wanted to see and do was on the list—and then some. When I got back home and caught up on my laundry, I wrote seven stories and was paid for six of them. Then I sent each of the published links to Carol, as well as the places and attractions hosting me. I shared the articles across the board on social media. My accounts of Maine were a hit, and I’m currently working on my second media trip to a completely different part of the state.

Networking is a delightful way to spread your wings, make contacts and life-long friendships. The truth is you just never know the direction travel writing can take you.

Talking with PR professionals, working with your local tourism bureaus, starting local and working your way out from there, are all ways that will help your lifestyle grow.

Proving that you’re dependable, trustworthy, and a humble writer who over-delivers to folks willing to go out on a limb for you is priceless. Your in-box will be filled with invitations in no time.         

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