Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tips for aspiring writers

What should you do if you want to write? First, commit yourself to starting a blog. But before you start it, think about what sort of theme you want convey. Check out some other blogs. is the best blog search engine I've found. Enter in key words that speak to you and find out what blogs are running on those themes. This blog should not be just a personal online diary, but a showcase of your writing talent, your insight, your curiosity. Once you have a design you like, show it to some other people (I'm happy to look at it). A good theme reflected in both the design and the writing is a requirement of a good blog that will go places. The next requirement is to update your blog regularly. Give yourself a weekly deadline. If your blog is regularly updated, you have the best chance of having regular readers. Of course you need to be sure that your entries are substantial and interesting to read and line up with you theme. The next step is to circulate your blog. Put the URL on your email signature, your business cards, your facebook page, etc. Let the world know "I am a writer! Here's where you can read my writing!" You may also want to find out what "collaborative" blogs are out there. One that is devoted to travel could be useful, especially if its widely read, maybe affiliated with Lonely Planet or something similar.

Parallel to developing your blog, find places to get published. Find out about all the publications that are based near where you live that are even remotely interesting to you. Also search among the people you know and find out who among them has anything to do with local publications or who knows anyone who does. Use Craigslist. Set up face-to-face meetings with the editors of these publications. Tell them you want to write and that you'd like a shot at freelance. This could be daily newspapers, weekly alternative papers, music mags, culture mags, etc. The trick is to get started writing and getting published. You'll most likely need a job (part-time, if possible) to make ends meet while you build up your dossier.

You may wish to explore more than one "beat." I suggest both culture and real estate. These are best for travel. On your trip to SE Asia, you could research the local opportunities for real estate investment by day and check out the restaurant and nightspots in the evenings.

As far as getting free trips, you'll probably need to get a bit established. But it may not take long. One way to get free trips is to write for in-flight magazines. Find out what these magazines are and how you can contact them. The best is just to find out who the editor is and give them a call. But have at least your blog in operation first and - ideally - have a few pieces published already, if only in some local minor publications. This will give you some clout. "Yeah, I'd like to have a shot at travel writing. I've travelled a bit and written about it. I've also had a few pieces published."

As for getting free meals and places to stay: for this you need a place where you be published that will reach the audience of their potential customers. A collaborative blog devoted to travel and affiliated with a major travel guide could be all it takes. Your own blog could be used, if its well developed. One thing you could try is to start your own collaborative blog devoted to travel and scare up contributors from Facebook (find people interested in both travel and writing who themselves are either travelling now or have plans to travel soon) Make yourself the editor so you can maintain the level of quality. In other words, don't give them the password. Just have them email you the pieces. Let them know that once you get traffic and sponsors, etc., you'll share the revenues but for now this is just a place to get your voices heard. Once this blog has some decent travel content and a grabby URL, you can pitch it to hotels, restaurants, even airlines and/or travel agents and so forth before you begin you travels. Let them know you will review their gigs on your blog that get a gezillion hits daily by just the sort of customers they want and need. Moreover, you can tell them that whenever someone does a search on their venue, your review will pop up. So they should give you a free bed/meal/flight, etc. But we can cover these details once you've got your blog up and running.

If you want to be an independent writer, one thing you do NOT want to do is to take a job in an office that demands your time and your brain for 8+ hours a day. Take a job in a hip diner or a bar or a bookshop or a cafe - someplace that tips! And then use the rest of your time WELL. Make contacts with other independent writers both in your area and online, preferably both. It is important to have a peer group with similar priorities to you. From them you can learn, get inspired and even compete.

It can also be very useful to map out your time and set milestones, deadlines; a timeframe. By such and such a date I will have my blog launched in a groovy and professional way. By such and such date I will have met with 10 editors, etc.


  • At 12:47 AM, Anonymous Chelsea Blair said…

    Wonderful tips, thank you.
    I think I'm going to look into that in flight magazine approach, I like it when people pay for me to take vacations.


Post a Comment

<< Home