Earlier this year, we lost legendary basketball player Kobe Bryant. He was considered by many in the world of professional basketball as one of the greatest players of all time.
Kobe gifted the world with his talents, but his legacy reaches far beyond the basketball court. His understanding of the game and ability to adapt when needed, coupled with his life philosophies are lessons we can all learn from.
Here are six lessons based on his philosophies that I believe we can use to stay in the game as travel writers.
1. Practice every day
One way to stay sharp and remain in the game is to practice our craft on a daily basis. Whether it’s writing an article, sending a pitch, or researching new publications, we need to set time aside to hone our skills. The world of travel writing is a moving target—ever changing, and in order to stay competitive we have to keep improving our game.
2. Know when to pivot
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything as travel writers, it’s that pivoting can make the difference on whether writers continue to be published. The reality of the situation is that none of us are traveling right now. But that doesn’t mean we can’t stay busy. Writing about your local area, virtual travel, and personal experiences related to the virus are all popular stories these days.
3. Follow the trends
Travel surveys are showing there’s a huge pent-up demand for travel due to the shutdown and stay-in-place orders. Like a great player who always follows the ball, savvy travel writers position themselves to take on future challenges. Even now, I’m reading and writing articles about what travel will look like after COVID-19, magical travel moments, and the places we can’t wait to experience again.
4. Be part of the team
Just as no basketball, soccer, or volleyball player is successful without the support of his or her teammates, the same is true for travel writers. This is the perfect time to be an integral part of a travel writer’s program and join a professional travel association. The sharing of information and insider tips can prove invaluable during this difficult time. For example, I saw a callout for pitches the other day and although I don’t live in the regions listed, I know writers who do. So, I gladly passed the information along.
Don’t forget to use social media to your benefit. Build your followers and share your published articles and your photos. And make sure your profiles are updated on sites like LinkedIn and TravMedia. The more people you interact with, the more it increases your chances for current and future writing opportunities. (One team in particular I recommend you join is mine at the Travel Writers Café, which you can learn all about right here.)
5. Go ahead and take the shot
So many writers these days are reporting trepidation about approaching publications with their pitches. But here’s the deal. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. This is the perfect time to test the waters. Research top travel, wellness, and even business websites. What type of stories are they publishing?
Read their writer guidelines. Some publications are even listing the types of articles they’re currently looking for.
6. Take it in for a slam dunk
I’ll let you in on a little secret that works for me. Even though I’ve been using this practice for a while, I’m finding it’s just as effective in these challenging times. Once I’ve pitched a publication and they’ve agreed to the story, I submit it ahead of the deadline, giving the editor time to review it and for any possible edits. They love that.
But I do something else. When I submit the story, I also submit another pitch along with it. I already have the editor’s attention, so why not go in for another opportunity? I must say this approach has worked for me practically every time I’ve used it.
When all is said and done, the bottom line is this: To stay in the game, continue to hone your skills and be prepared to change things up and make the necessary adjustments. But stay with it, and stay in it to win it!