As writers we spend a good amount of time alone in front of our computers. We have to if we’re going to meet those looming deadlines. But devoting time to your writing is just one part of the equation for successful travel writers—and by successful I mean those making a living from their writing business.
Tim has pointed out on this site and in his book, Travel Writing 2.0, that we have to sell ourselves to be successful in this business. Selling yourself involves sending out pitches to editors or brands you want to work with, introducing yourself and your ideas, then following up. It also involves networking—and not just on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It’s important to meet face-to-face through industry events, conferences and press trips.
Tim and I met at a North American Travel Journalist Association (NATJA) conference a few years ago which led to us working together on this site. He’s written many times about the network effect. Many of the successful writers we’ve interviewed gave the same advice.
“Participate in the travel and writing life. Attend industry events and conferences. Join travel and writing organizations. Engage in online communities. Subscribe to newsletters. Follow online and in print the outlets you wish to write for, and support fellow travel writers on social media.” – Kit Bernardi
“Being a member of NATJA and IFTWA has many advantages. These are organizations devoted to travel writers and thus provide a myriad of opportunities for communication and networking, continued education in the field, conferences and press trips, as well as offering a platform for self-promotion and marketing. Being a member has also given me a sense of belonging to a group of kindred spirits, who I can reach out to for feedback, information, referrals and further connections. I would advise anyone who is a travel writer to seriously consider joining such organizations for the valuable benefits they offer to those involved in our profession.” – Debbie Stone
“My initial successes came from hobnobbing, meeting people, getting involved in writer/publisher organizations, and going to conferences.”– Karen Misuraca
I agree wholeheartedly. My attendance at a variety of workshops, conferences and press events over the years. The networking I did paid off as I met several editors for who I now write. As one editor said to me recently, “I get so many e-mails I can’t possibly read them all. But, I always read the ones from people I’ve met.”
The chance to network isn’t the only benefit to attending workshops and conferences. For example, at the recent NATJA conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, professional development sessions were offered on video techniques, photography, tips for managing social media, and building your brand.
In past years the conference brought in editors from top publications like American Way, Private Clubs and National Geographic Traveler for the Editor’s Pitch Panel to share the dos and don’ts for pitching their publications. Yes, you’ll have to spend a little cash to attend, but the return on your investment is worth the money spent.
The point is: take a break from your computer and TALK TO PEOPLE! Invest in your writing business by putting yourself in as many places as possible that will provide you with networking opportunities. Once you connect, build those relationships. And then get back in front of your computer to meet your deadlines!