Here’s a question I receive frequently from beginning travel writers:
“How do I get invitations to press trips? You get a lot of invitations. How do you do it?”
I often hear this same question from experienced writers when I tell them that I receive several press trip invitations each month and turn most of them down.
So this article is about how to stop dreaming and take steps to get successful press trip invitations. I’ve listed out the five things I've found key to making itt happen:
I don’t know any fast track to success in travel writing without doing some writing and selling some articles. You’re in this game because you love to write, so this is the first thing you need to do.
Why is this important?
You need to establish your credentials as a writer before successful press trip invitations start flowing in. On a press trip, someone else pays for your trip. The tourist agencies or PR firms that are footing the bill want to know, in advance, that you know how to get an article into print and online magazines.
The only way to show that you know how to get published is to do it. Showing that you’ve been published, at least a few times, proves to them that you know how to sell an article idea and get it placed into the media.
Establishing yourself as a travel writer can feel daunting to a beginner, but it doesn’t have to be. Which leads to the next step . . .
Establish your credibility as quickly as you can. No one wants to feel like a beginner for long. So you need a strategy.
In my free eBook, “Get Published Now”, I talk about several ways to get started quickly with freelance writing. If you haven’t downloaded the eBook, you can do it by signing up for my free weekly ezine.
One of the easiest ways to get published quickly is to write a few articles for online travel magazines.
Writing for online magazines is a good way to establish credibility and get successful press trip invitations for two reasons:
So, it kills two birds with one stone, as the saying goes.
The downside to writing for online magazines is that they don’t pay well. Many of them don’t pay anything at all. (See my related post on this topic.) So this is only a short-term strategy to build credibility. It’s not a long-term strategy if you want to earn income with your writing.
Part of your strategy should also include thinking about how many bylines you want to collect and by what date. Set a few goals. Are ten bylines enough? Or should you shoot for a couple dozen? Do you want to do this in a month, or six months?
Once you have a goal in mind, get started making lists of story ideas and potential outlets for those ideas.
You should identify the specific genres that interest you. Target the magazines in those genres. Remember, it’s easier to write about something you love than something you find boring.
The more genres you write for, the more likely you’ll come up with outlets for assignments when you’re working on getting invited on press trips. Every destination offers many story possibilities – it’s good to have a few to choose from.
PR firms frequently contact me when they have a press trip in an area that has some kind of military history or military museum. They know I have a variety of outlets for these kinds of articles. And I love this! There’s nothing more fun to me than finding a new military venue to write about.
A good friend of mine loves everything outdoors. He climbs mountains and is working toward climbing every peak in the world. He writes articles about his climbing experiences and adventures. This has earned him invitations to press trips.
So, focus on your interests. It will help you and it will help the PR people when they’re looking for writers to invite on press trips.
I’ve mentioned this in some of my other articles. Attending conferences provides a learning experience, and also gives you an opportunity to meet editors and representatives from tourist agencies and PR firms. Check the conference details before you sign up to find out who will be attending.
The best way to be successful with press trip invitations is to meet CVBs and PR people face-to-face and talk with them about what you have to offer.
Travel Writer’s conferences and workshops are held in most major cities in the U.S. Find the ones in your region and plan to attend a couple events each year.
Ask for testimonials from editors after you’ve written a few articles. You’re looking for feedback about whether you were easy to work with, wrote a quality article, and met your deadlines.
Publish those testimonials on your website with the editor’s name, title, and publication.
You need to also collect testimonials from CVBs if you've been on a press trip. Collect these for proof that you delivered an article for a successful press trip.
These days, every freelance writer needs a website. It’s important for you to have an internet presence so that an editor, tourist agency or PR firm can find out more about you and your background. It makes you look real in a virtual world.
Post a few of your print articles on your website so editors can see the types of things you write about, and get an idea of your writing abilities.
You can also provide links to your online articles. Just remember to keep those links up to date. Webmasters won’t tell you when they change a link.
A Few Final Words:
These are the ways I get a steady flow of successful press trip invitations. I don’t know of any fast track to success without putting in some time and effort in getting those bylines.
Getting assignment letters in advance of your trip is also an important way to receive successful press trip invitations.
And once you’ve established your credibility as a writer and developed some relationships with PR and tourist agencies, those press trip invitations will start pouring in.
Roy Stevenson is a professional travel writer and the author of www.PitchTravelWrite.com. Over the past ten years, he’s had more than 1000 articles published in 200 magazines, trade and specialty journals, in-flights, on-boards, blogs and websites and has traveled on assignment around the U.S. and to dozens of international destinations.