In the movies, writers are often portrayed as lonely figures hunched over a typewriter or keyboard in a dimly lit room, banging away at the keys until an article or chapter of their novel is finished just minutes before a deadline.
The truth is, writing is a team effort. Especially for a travel writer. There is no easy way to consistently publish content without developing and maintaining good relationships with the people you want to write about and the editors who are willing to publish your story.
When you’re starting out, it’s easy to picture editors as ogres crouched behind huge desks, chewing on a cigar and screaming “Get out of my office” like J. Jonah Jameson from Spiderman. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
Editors need writers. Without them, the editor has nothing to print. But that doesn’t mean they are willing to put up with difficult behavior to get a story. If you are hard to work with, you probably won’t get a second chance with any publication.
The same goes for destinations and the people who accommodate travel writers in exchange for visibility. It’s important to be polite and understanding. If you contact a hotel or attraction and demand free stays or free passes, you’re probably not going to get on anyone’s good side.
To build successful working relationships with destination marketing organizations, convention and visitors’ bureaus, and the editors who can make or break a writing career, be the person they all want to work with. It’s not hard to do if you keep a few things in mind.
First, do what you say you’re going to do. Don’t promise a story on pelicans and turn in 500 words on porcupines. If you pitch a story on any subject, stick to that subject. The magazine or website will plan other pieces of their publication around your info, so don’t wander off into some new topic they didn’t expect.
Second, meet your deadlines. The editor is waiting for your story to match art or photos with it, so if you’re late, they’re late. They are already on a tight schedule, so help them meet their own deadlines by honoring yours.
Third, be easy to work with. It’s the editor’s job to make sure their readers are happy, so help them do that by being flexible. If your finished work includes info that doesn’t match the magazine’s theme, or is unverified, or is inappropriate, you may be asked to change your final draft. Don’t argue with the editor, just change it.
Fourth, be a good guest. If you’ve been invited to a destination, whether it’s a hotel or restaurant or the local zoo, be the guest you would want in your own house. Don’t expect everything for free, and don’t leave a mess behind. Be the writer who gets invited back again (and does get free perks) because you were thoughtful and nice.
The days of the lone wolf writer are long gone. If you want to succeed as a travel writer, you must develop strong relationships with travel industry professionals and editors alike.
The people who produce, produce on time, and are easy to work with get additional assignments and are invited back. Those are easy steps to take on the path to a successful writing career.