Who doesn’t love a sandcastle?
It dawned on me the last time I was on the beach watching an artisan putting the finishing touches on his masterpiece, that finding success as a travel writer is much like building a beautiful sandcastle. Here’s why.
Establishing a firm foundation.
Breaking into the world of travel writing requires a firm foundation on which to build your career. That’s why I attended the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop in 2014. Getting the inside scoop on the system, knowing what editors want and how to pitch the right way is like knowing how much water to add to the sand. It’s paramount to success. Starting out doing things the right way truly pays big dividends.
Having the right tools.
Each travel writer needs the right tools of the trade. Knowing how to get the attention of editors, making your story stand out, or even how to find publications paying writers makes all the difference. Travel writers landing thousands of dollars in perks also use these tools to their advantage. When approaching tourism boards or venues, asking the right questions makes all the difference in getting what you’re asking for—whether it’s a two-night stay in an oceanfront resort, a complimentary meal, or museum tickets.
When you understand the process and then put that process into practice, wonderful things begin to happen. Just like that sandcastle builder, you’re using your tools building upon your foundation step by step so it will become your winning masterpiece.
Honing the process.
The travel writing journey needs continuous feeding. That comes when we commit to ongoing learning. Joining professional organizations enables the writer to interact with other writers and editors. I can personally attest to the fact that editors have reached out to me, inviting me to submit stories to their publications. It’s because I was in the “right place at the right time,” be it a social event or a writing seminar.
And because the world of travel writing is such a moving target, it’s yet another reason to increase our circle of contacts. There’s no better way to do this than to join a professional writer’s organization. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times. “They know something, you know something, and we all walk away knowing so much more.”
The sandcastle builder likewise hones his skills, learning from others, building his mastery with techniques he has shared and gained from others.
Learning from our mistakes and accepting feedback.
We all know what happens when we build a sandcastle too close to a rising tide.
It’s much the same way with travel writing. And I’ll even let you in on a little secret. We all make mistakes—even seasoned professionals. But it’s in learning from those mistakes that we become so much better at what we do.
Several months ago, a new writer contacted me in tears. She’d submitted an article to an editor and as she explained “He ripped it apart, changed my title, and said my photos weren’t resized correctly. My confidence is blown.” After calming down, she admitted that the editor had agreed to take the article if the necessary corrections were made.
We have all been there, done that, where an editor provides feedback that’s a tough pill to swallow. But if we accept this as part of the learning process, it will make a difference between giving up or pressing onward.
That young writer resubmitted her article and photos. She was handsomely paid for the story…and she is now a regular contributor for the publication. All because she took the feedback to heart and now realizes that ultimately, it’s made her a much better writer.
Commit to being the best.
I’m a firm believer in doing things the right way, all the time. Holding ourselves to a standard of excellence means that we refuse to cut corners. We do our research, follow writer guidelines, craft a quality article, meet deadlines, and follow through for our hosted destinations with promised articles.
Building your career is like a building a beautiful sandcastle. Build it solid, with a good foundation, using the right tools. Build it in the right place with the skills you’ve honed to make it the very best!