In our last travel writing advice post, we looked at ways to find fresh angles and original travel content ideas. But finding a good idea is only the beginning – once you’ve done that, you still need to market that idea. It’s time to write up that all-important travel pitch. For many aspiring travel writers, this is the most difficult part of the process.
While hopeful writers busy themselves wrangling their own thoughts, ideas and experiences into a saleable travel story, commissioners have to sift through what must seem like a never-ending influx of proposals. They too face difficult choices, having to discern what – if anything – will work for their readership and whether the freelancer will be able to deliver the job to their standards. To help both the commissioner and the commissionee through the arduous pitching process, we’ve collated six important questions – ones that writers should ask themselves before they press send, and ones editors can use to identify a winning pitch. Simply scroll down to read them all.
Does it follow the guidelines?
When it comes to pitching an idea, you really do need to sweat the small stuff. That means reading submission guidelines carefully before firing off your pitch email. These specifications are in place for a reason (probably to make the editor’s life a little easier) and not adhering to them is a sure-fire way to rub a potential new client up the wrong way. For editors, if a writer has neglected to read the submission guidelines, it’s usually an indication they’ll struggle to follow style guidelines when it comes down to the real work, so it’s an effective way to filter proposals.
Does it demonstrate an understanding of the brand?
If you’re responsible for commissioning content for a travel company blog or a travel magazine, you should be on alert for pitches that show an understanding of your brand. Has the writer identified how their pitch might fit in with your blog content or where it may feature in the magazine? If the writer has managed to convey that they know what is relevant to your publication or brand, the chances are they will be able to apply this knowledge to any work they complete for you too. A familiarity with the right tone is a positive omen: the writer either knows the brand already or has engaged in some thorough research – both signs bode well for future work.
Is it concise?
If you’re a long-time editor and the answer to this one is no, your mouse is probably already hovering over the delete button – it’s hard to justify spending more than a few minutes scanning a proposal. Writers, bear this in mind. Pitching is the time for brevity; it’s all about piquing interest. While you should certainly include sufficient detail to give a clear idea of the work you would deliver, you can get into the real nitty gritty later in the process.
Is it specific?
A pitch about a general broad destination guide is a no-no for the commissioner and commissionee alike. You should always be able to find an angle, whether it’s fairly broad (how to spend 48 hours in Paris, for instance) or more focused (a first-hand account of the psychedelic trance scene in Goa, for example).
Is it unexpected?
A story about sightseeing in Rome or beach holidays on the Costa del Sol doesn’t present anything new. On the other hand, a pitch that has the power to surprise or goes against conventional thinking is sure to stand out even in an overcrowded inbox, whether it’s on Benidorm bidding for World Heritage Status or on skiing in Morocco.
Does it take the readership into consideration?
The consumers of your travel content should be the number one priority. Pitches should be useful, engaging and interesting for them. Writers, don’t bother pitching a story about dirt-cheap hostels to a luxury-oriented travel mag or a story about Berlin’s notorious nightlife for a family-focused travel agent’s blog – they simply won’t work. A good pitch should demonstrate a clear understanding of what will interest the client’s highly individual audience.
Are you looking for a tailored pitch? Our team of expert writers regularly create bespoke proposals for travel publications and brands – take a look at some of the end results here. Then contact us by email or on Twitter.