Hundreds of thousands of people come to my hometown of Prescott, Arizona each year.
There may be more festivals and celebrations in Prescott than any place I’ve ever lived before. My favorite? Acker night. The first Friday of December, everyone gets their Christmas on and attends the fundraiser around the square.
You can read my article about it in Prescott Woman Magazine here.
Here’s the funny thing about that article. I didn’t think it was EVER going to be printed.
I’d been using the rare break in my day (I worked 95-hour weeks as a physician) to go to the library and check out what publications might be willing to work with a new writer.
That’s where I heard about a gathering for Big Brothers/Big Sisters and thought it would make a good local article.
When I got to the event, I mentioned my travel writing to the director when she greeted me. She asked, “Which magazine?” I mentioned the first one I could think of, “Prescott Women.”
“Oh,” she said, “Do you know Breeyana Hinkel… the editor?”
“No, not yet.”
“Well, let me introduce you.”
And she took me by the hand and walked right over to Bree, introduced me, and I pitched her my idea. My first idea fell flat. But I had a second idea ready…
“How about 100 things to do around the Square?”
Her eyes lit up like a Christmas tree, and I knew I was onto something.
This is what you do as a travel writer.
You talk to people—maybe even everyone you meet—and tell them you’re writing about local events, your focus: travel. And they introduce you to their friends and tell you about new events… and you go, because you’re a good citizen.
But now you’re looking with a new eye. You’re looking from a travel writer’s perspective.
So, whether you’re exploring your own back yard, or out on a business trip, you can find things that will be of interest to other people.
My advice to beginners is to get three bylines, print business cards, and get a functional website up and running. After that you’ll discover the world of travel writing opens to you. You’re able to access travel writers’ social media, you’re recognized as a professional, and you start having others reach out to you to write for them. It’s pretty awesome.
With this head start, when my job ended in February, I packed everything up and went to Dublin, Ireland for three weeks.
The Dublin Tourism Bureau was glad to see me—they even gave me a media kit that opened the doors to their biggest attractions, at no cost to me.
Thanks to travel writing, I’ve met amazing people and seen things I didn’t know existed up close and personal.
I’ve just returned from Skerries Mills, a 30-minute train ride from Dublin, with windmills and watermills and a café that should be listed as a National Treasure. I received a personal tour and a scrumptious lunch for the cost of a few emails and a 9-euro train fare. Read about it here.
As Robert Kiyosaki put it, “I’m not a best-writing author, I’m a best-selling author.” I’m including these clips, not to show you what a great writer I am, but to show you how writing in a way that keeps people’s interest is all you need to do to make this work.
Have an idea. Get an editor to accept it. Query the location about hosting you. Experience it. Write it. Sleep on it.
Edit it. Proof it. Press send.
It’s as simple as that. Rinse and repeat.
My retirement is going to be spent traveling the world checking out new sites and sharing my thoughts with people who don’t know what they’re missing. I’ll be paid well and treated handsomely. No wonder everyone wants the writer’s life.
Oh, did you notice that Bree didn’t actually print the idea I pitched? Instead, she asked for something about the holidays in August. Fortunately, I’d been to many Christmas events and I had photographs.
Here are a few tips if you’re just getting started:
• Start local. Look at library periodicals and see what kinds of articles they have.
• Sign up for your town’s Facebook page. You’ll have advanced notice of all the goings-on.
• Remember, travel articles aren’t limited to travel magazines.
• Go to every seasonal event and take photos. Then use them to pitch editors for next year’s publications. There really never is “too much lead time.”