How do you get the opportunity to travel write? (+ Eat Free Food!)
In the past few years, I've been lucky to learn how to practice travel journalism - I'm grateful for the help of many women I work with - including Susan Benton of 30A Eats who walked me through my first official process.
Prior, to asking for help - I winged my way into the process...
Not many PR firms or managers are willing to comp food for a journalist without a portfolio - so it's time to build one if you don't have one. (You can learn how through my recorded webinar - it's just $49 - if you're interested just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The first piece I wrote was a guide on restaurants I frequented in Pensacola - I was willing to pay for food when needed to complete the article, BUT, I managed to get it all for free! #PopularFriendAlert
How? I facebook messaged each restaurant about three weeks before I came by and let them know I'd like to feature them in an article for the magazine I worked for locally. I asked them to provide food and drinks they thought the reader's of the magazine would enjoy so I could taste and take pictures of each item. I came in, ate, drank with friends and wrote notes about what makes the location, owner and food special.
It's important to note, I had about 30 articles published before jumping into this guide as mentioned, so I'd say start writing on topics you know - then come back to travel writing. (Again, that webinar is super helpful here.)
I was hooked after my first adventure!
So, I decided to do it in Houston:
One of my best friends, Kerrie, was completing PA school in Texas so I figured, why not visit and write another article? At this step, I'm totally novice to a 'Big city' experience so I did my Facebook message technique again... not too many responses.
That's when I asked Susan, "How do you travel write?"
She let me know there's a TDC, or "Visit Houston" for every city and they likely have a media contact that will help you get in touch with the Public Relations companies for each restaurant.
That worked well, but as a newbie and fresh into working for myself - Kerrie and I had loads of "Will they pay for this or is this going to be $200?!" anxiety throughout our trip.
We had about a 50% success rate on free foods. NOTE: That's not what travel writing is all about, but you know, when you're starting you aren't rollin' in a food budget.
Whew, that was nerve-wracking.
I progressed into stronger media language and being able to send my Pensacola and Houston article was greatly helpful when I reached out to Visit San Diego + Visit St. Augustine - which I'm proud to report was a fully media traded meals & food for both visits.
It's really all about practice.
Here's what I learned, these are the top three things when you're looking to do a travel article:
- Do your research - personalize each email and explain why you're the right person for the job. Include any writing you've had published and where you may publish the piece you are travel writing about
- Don't be afraid to confirm. "This article will be great exposure for your business! Can I confirm we are doing in-kind media trade? The only cost to you for my visit is the cost of food."
- Be polite. Always TIP + Write a thank you note. Be sure to send the article when you get home.
If you're interested in learning more - as I mentioned - just e-mail me and I'll send you all the deets. I'm also hosting a Blogging 101 Workshop this Thursday.