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 email@example.com)
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:
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.