The Worst Headline I’ve Ever Read (I Wrote It Too)

Anyone who’s followed my rather infrequent missives on my blog about pitching and writing will know I’m obsessed with headlines. When I die, my epitaph will read ‘Where’s the f*&@ing headline?’There’s a reason for this irrational fixation, especially when it comes to pitching. Being able to present a good headline to an editor means you’ve been able to conceive of a good story. It means your story, at least in theory, has strength, a solid inner core that will carry the reader through whatev...

How This Freelance Writer Consistently Wins Jobs With The World’s Best Travel Magazines

Lola Akinmade Åkerström is a photographer, writer and author – and as a result she does a lot of pitching. She also does an amazing job of analysing her pitches each year, which worked, which didn’t, and so I bugged her to reveal what she knows for readers on Travel Write Earn.Lola put together 87 pitches during 2016, with a 43% success/assigned rate. You can read her own account of the year here on her blog. She’s also become what all freelancers should aspire to be – a go-to source for editors...

Always Pitch An Idea – Otherwise You’re Just Begging

I got a pitch the other day that, paraphrased, went something like this: “Hi James,I’m an experienced blogger, I’ve done [this], I’ve done [that], I’m looking to take on some more freelance writing work, so if you are looking for any new writers, I’d love it if you could give me a try. You can see my CV and portfolio [here] and my personal blog [here].Thanks![Me]”There were a few issues with this pitch, not the least of which were [this] and [that] were topics that had nothing to do with what I...

4 Very Different Travel Pitches, All Successful

During a recent foray back into the freelance world, I won an assignment with Hong Kong’s biggest broadsheet newspaper that I didn’t expect to win. It got me thinking about the various ways to pitch and how they can all strike a chord with the right person, at the right time.I spoke to three other freelancers about stories they won at high-profile publications and the pitch process they went through and describe them all below.1. The complete, ready-written featureThe publication: South China Mo...

Lessons From A Debut Self-Published Author

I recently published a book on Amazon – Kindle and paperback. I started with zero knowledge of the enterprise, just the idea of the book I wanted to write. I learned as I went. Made many mistakes. Wasted a lot of time. Spent some money.Here’s a brief overview of the insights from my experience that may be useful to those trying to do something similar.The contextI was fed up with the day job, was seriously thinking about quitting without another job to go to yet, and decided if I was going to be...

Why Editors Don’t Answer Your Emails

This is the first question of an ebook I’ve just published, answering 40 questions in total from real travel freelance writers. See the book here, or over in the sidebar on the right.A few weeks ago I wrote to dozens of freelance travel writers and professional bloggers to ask: what’s your biggest challenge? What’s the most frustrating problem you have as a freelancer?—FYI you can read my book for free with an Amazon Prime free trial – click this link to get one: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Tri...

One Thing Travel Writers Can Do To Earn More From Every Word

The perennial lament of the freelance travel writer is how hard it is to earn a decent living. Rates haven’t gone up in decades, budgets have shrunk and editors have so much content from so many writers to choose from, just bagging a sale can be problematic. But there’s another problem at play here – that once you have a story that interests editors, you’re only allowed to sell it once. And because you’re so happy to secure a job, you’ll agree to anything they demand.Contracts and work agreemen...

Freelance Travel Writing Jobs – 100 Publications That Buy Travel Articles

Here’s a selection of publications, print and online, travel writers should know about. This list is far from exhaustive, but it’s a good starting point for creating your own go-to list of platforms that offer freelance travel writing work and are worth pitching.I’ve included links to the contact forms or writer guidelines where I could find them, though wasn’t possible in every case.This list mostly consists of publications that publish international stories from various locations, to cater to...

Why Freelance Writers Should Source Photos For Their Editors

One of the dilemmas freelance writers face these days, especially when working for online platforms, is being asked by an editor to source pictures for their articles.‘But I’m a writer!’ you may think. It’s my words I’m selling, more than that, my very thoughts, my pithy witticisms and insightful observations on everything from the decline of hitchhiking to the growth of fungi on my hotel bathroom sink. I don’t do pictures.There are two circumstances in which you could get away with a response l...

Here’s How The ‘Million-Dollar Blogger’ Makes His Money

I recently wrote a piece for CNN about travel blogger Johnny Ward, a 32-year-old Irishman who has spent 10 years visiting every country in the world.More impressively, he earned $1 million in three years blogging about it, and continues to earn five figures (US$) every month from ‘blogging’.The question I’ve been asked most frequently since that post went up is: how did/does he earn his money?This post will answer that question, though you might want to catch up on the background and context by...

Understanding Your Editor: The Other Side Of The Email Divide

For those who feel a freelance writing career is more akin to wading through a swimming pool of cold molasses in a suit of armour, this post is for you.I know one of the things that affects a freelance writer’s morale is the (non)communication of editors. You pitch, you wait, you keep waiting, and then you give up. You pitch someone else, you wait, you keep waiting… and on it goes. Pitching doesn’t feel so much like contacting editors as it does shouting into a series of deep, dark, empty tunnel...

3 Reasons Freelancers Should NOT Be Paid By Word Count

I’ve come to the freelance arena again (part-time) after several years in full-time permanent employment, and one of the things I’ve seriously flirted with is the idea of charging for my work not by the word but by ‘the effort’. I’m not sure if this would work, but I like the thought. Word count has become the de facto valuation tool, because it’s easy. Everything is quantifiable and therefore accountable, and each party knows what’s expected. You want 800 words, I want $800 – let’s do it. I...

The Perfect Pitch (Or ‘What Editors Want’)

I’m an editor. I’ve worked with hundreds of freelancers and PR people over the years. I’ve commissioned and managed probably a couple thousand pieces. Spent hundreds of thousands of dollars (of someone else’s money) on that content. Generated hundreds of millions of page views. I’ve always tried to provide feedback, even if it’s a quick “No thanks.”Yet one thing consistently eludes me: the perfect pitch.One-time perfectionI have received one “perfect pitch” in my decade as a commissioning editor...

The Art And Science Of Pitching Travel Articles

Here’s a little Q&A I did with Christine Peets, freelance writer, blogger, and writing instructor, about what writers should focus on when pitching travel articles.What makes travel writing different from other types of writing in terms of what the writer needs to consider when pitching a story to an editor?JD: The most important thing is aligning your pitch with your selected publication’s voice, style and favored topics.I’m writing a small e-book about this topic at the moment, so it will...

Why I’m Writing A Book On Pitching

Hi there and thanks for visiting. I’m a former editor for CNN Travel, and having worked with hundreds of freelance writers and a few bloggers over the last decade, decided to write a short ebook to answer some of the most common questions that wannabe travel writers have.The book will focus primarily on pitching your story ideas in ways that will maximise your chances of scoring a commission. There are thousands of books already on the subject of writing, so I will touch on it only briefly and s...