8 things you need to consider before you start a travel article
One of the questions I get asked most is, how do we submit or pitch travel stories to publications? I’ve been working as a travel writer for over twenty years, and have picked up a few methods and tricks.
Of course, a lot of this is drawing from my experience in the 90s and noughties, when physical magazines were much more popular and prolific. But there are still many travel magazines and travel blogs online. Additionally, you have the option of starting your own travel or lifestyle blog. Not only does this have a more international reach, it also allows you far more control.
What matters most, in the end, is that you tell your story well, that your story is seen, and that it touches the hearts of your readers, wherever you may find them. So while I’m sharing what I know about pitching to magazines, I’m also sharing what I’ve picked up about running a travel blog.
Here are my top 8 tips for what you need to think about when brainstorming a travel article.
- Study your target market and readership before you submit anything. A magazine about extreme sports will not be interested in a story about the music scene in Detroit.
- Think about the type of article or blog post you want to write. Is it going to be first-person? Is it going to be an adventure? Is it going to be about a day trip? Is it to do with destination or anniversary? Is it a how-to? Is it related to the news? Is it about special interests, like hobbies, sports, shopping?
- Find the right person at the publication that you have in mind and address your query or pitch directly to him or her. If that editor is not familiar with your work and you’re a new name, it’s not a bad idea to send a couple of articles with your pitch or at least refer to those articles, as well as a resume or basic CV about who you are, to establish some kind of relationship with this person. Don’t be too casual or friendly in your first email. Be polite. If the person writes back to you, then you can gauge what kind of person it is and follow their tone. Don’t pester him or her. Wait a few weeks until you contact them again to find out what happened to your submission.
- Editors are usually looking for articles that evoke a sense of place, of a culture or a city, or that go into the soul of that place. Best, of course, is to come with an unusual angle.
- If you’re running your own blog, you need to find your audience. Join online and offline travel communities, market yourself online, and consider setting up platforms on social media to expand your reach.
- Make sure that your blog is not all over the place – you need a theme or something holding it together. Think about who you want to address, your readers. Don’t aim too wide. A niche is often much more interesting and satisfying. People are interested in specifics.
- Images are incredibly important. You may want to include some photos in your query email, or at least let the editor know that you do have images should they need them. For your blog and social media channels, it’s of vital importance to have photos to spice up your piece.
- Avoid grammar and spelling mistakes, not just in your story, but also in your email. It immediately damages your credibility and means editors and readers might not take you as seriously.