Friday, 13 March 2009

#96 – If there is no travel section, try and create one

Or the entrepreneurial freelance travel writer.

Entrepreneurial attitude
One difference between a mildly successful freelance travel writer and a very successful one is an entrepreneurial attitude. The former category looks to sell work to existing outlets – the latter does this too, but also looks to create outlets.

The difference
It’s that difference between submitting pitches to a travel section of a newspaper and pitching the idea of having a travel section to a newspaper.

Creating a regular outlet
This isn’t quite as outrageous as it sounds. Granted, it takes a lot of chutzpah, and it’s more than likely not going to succeed. But if it does succeed, then you’ve created yourself a regular outlet on the spot.

Why is there no travel section?
If a publication doesn’t have a travel section, there must be a reason for it. Perhaps a travel section wouldn’t be relevant to the readership. Perhaps they’ve tried it before and it didn’t work out. Or perhaps they’ve never thought of it? Maybe they would like to do it, but haven’t got the right person to organise it?

A good proposal
This is where putting a good proposal together, showing a sound understanding of the audience and explaining the potential benefits in increased advertising, could just work. If you can convince someone that they need a regular travel column, and that you’re the best person to do it, you have potentially made yourself a little goldmine.

Blogs and more
The same philosophy applies to blogs, magazine columns, ask the expert regular features or radio slots. Chances are that no-one will bite, but if someone does, you’ve created yourself an opportunity rather than just taking one offered to you.

6 comments:

Swedish Scribe said...

David,

Really like the blog, well-written with lots of great hints on getting started and simply keeping going at what can be, initially at least, dispiriting.

Am just starting out with the travel writing (and am focusing on Scandinavia). I just wondered whether I could pick your brains on how the UK national dailies commission work -- do you think they have forward features lists as such?

Furthermore, the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2009 states that publications like the Sunday Telegraph prefer hard-copy letters to emails initially. This strikes me as odd in the digital age: do you simply pitch via email/phone?

Finally, I've got into the habit of writing teaser paras for finished features, and sending 4/5 ideas off this way to showcase variety. The only problem with this approach is that when the (at the moment seemingly inevitable) rejections come, all those ideas are ruled-out for publication X. How do you deal with this? Do you send 1,2 or more ideas at any one time?

Cheers,

Ben

Karen Martin said...

David,

Very helpful information about travel writing! Thanks for sharing!

Karen Martin

Fiona Leonard said...

Really enjoyed your post. I'm in the midst of twelve months traveling around the US with my family (husband/kid/dog) after deciding to leave Western Australia and have an adventure or two!

I recently pitched a regular travel series to a newspaper in Aus and they seemed surprisingly receptive. Still negotiating but fingers crossed.

Tamara R. said...

You may already know, but your blog was named in the Top 100 Blogs for Freelancers, in its category. Congratulations!

http://www.odesk.com/blog/2009/04/top-100-freelance-blogs/

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