I’m sure you were all shaking your head when I said last month that I had made a bet with my partner. The bet was that I wouldn’t be going overseas on a famil or press trip until 2020. My son joined in on the bet, and come to think of it, so did a couple of my friends. I was pretty determined that I wasn’t going to travel overseas again this year for work, mostly because I was sure that my dream run of being offered trips was going to end. But that didn’t turn out to be true.
In terms of feature articles for magazines and newspapers, this month I:
Commissions from pitches or query letters (including from previous months): 3
Offers: 5 (where the editor approached me with a commission)
Feature articles for corporate and B2B clients – this includes sponsored content (I don’t pitch these):
Overall number of articles filed: 18
Lowlights of October
I’ve had an experience this month that I’d really rather forget.
Firstly, I was asked by an editor I’ve worked with quite a lot over the past few years to write a quick turn-around article for their online site.
The editor sent me through the press release as well as some notes they had made while speaking to the PR.
I turned the 600 word article around within a couple of hours and it went live soon after.
Or so I thought.
I received an email that afternoon from the PR saying that they needed to change a couple of minor things.
I emailed the editor to let them know. Minor things were changed.
About half an hour after that I received a panicked phone call from the PR saying that the entire article needed to be pulled as their client had read it and it contained embargoed material.
Now there was nothing in the press release nor the notes I received that said the information was embargoed, but obviously there had been a misunderstanding about what could and could not be reported on.
I encouraged the PR to speak to the editor as I felt pretty powerless.
Even though I couldn’t possibly have known certain content was embargoed I still felt terrible that it had gone live.
In the end the offending (embargoed) sentences were pulled from the article, but it remained online.
Towards the end of the day, I got an email from the editor apologising for mix up and reassuring me that there had been a misunderstanding with the PR.
The editor has given me work since then, so I don’t think there’s any hard feelings, but I found it terribly unsettling to produce some work and then have it cause such a commotion so quickly.
Highlights of October
Thankfully, I’ve had lots of great things happen in October.
My new website went live!
As lots of you know, this has been almost a year-long exercise and I’m so glad that it’s finally up and running.
There are still a few bits and pieces that I want to change and need to tweak, but overall I’m so happy with it. Although I’m finding I’m getting way more spammy comments than I ever did with Squarespace – anyone got any ideas on how to stop that?
And the benefit of having my website finally up is that my course about mastering the strategies and habits you need to earn a great living as a freelance writer won’t be too long away.
And almost every month I have an experience where my belief that nurturing genuine, authentic relationships with editors, clients, PRs and other freelancers, is strengthened.
This month a travel PR reached out to me because another travel PR who I had travelled with recommended me to her.
This PR represents some parts of the world where I’d love to travel and we are in talks about some trips for next year.
I was so lucky in October to be invited on three press trips. One domestic and two international.
My resolve was strong enough to say no to two of the invitations, but I must admit that I caved on the last one.
I have officially lost my bet.
The reason I said yes was that the trip looks like it will offer at least four distinct stories.
I generally have a rule of trying to get one story published for every two days I’m away and when I looked at what this trip offered I felt pretty positive I could do it.
I still wasn’t that keen on travelling again after I’d decided to stay at home until the end of the year, so I told the PR that I would pitch two outlets and if I got commissioned I’d go, but if not, I’d pass.
Well, I got commissioned and next week I’m off to Thailand for five days.
I have only been a member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers since January 2018, but I’ve really loved the events I’ve attended.
Each year the ASTW holds an AGM and convention. Last year was the first year I attended and it was in Thailand, and this year it was held in what is possibly my favourite place in Australia – far north Queensland.[Side note: if you’re interested in scoring a press trip to Queensland, you might be interested in reading this interview with PR and publicity leader for Tourism and Events Queensland’s Shelley Winkel]
What’s great about the convention is that you have the chance to go on a pre or post famil as well as attending the conference.
I went on a press trip to Fitzroy Island, and even though we were only there for 24 hours, it’s somewhere I’m definitely planning on returning to.
It’s only 45 minutes from Cairns and yet it feels like a world away.
The water was warm and clear and there were green sea turtles feeding just off shore. The island is home to a turtle rehabilitation centre and we had a chance to tour the centre and meet one of the on-site marine biologists.
What I really love about trips like this is not only getting to see and experience new sights, but getting to meet other travel writers.
I’ve never been in a job where I’ve found it so easy and comfortable to talk to others who do the same job as me.
Even when I was a social worker I never felt 100% at ease with other social workers, but with writers, there’s something different.
I think that on every press trip I’ve been on, I’ve come away with at least one new friend. And now two of my very good friends are writers I met on famils in the last couple of years.
Oh, do you know another highlight of the conference? We all put our business cards into a proverbial hat and I won 5 nights accommodation here.
A resource I’d recommend
Are you sick of me recommending podcasts that I love yet?!
Unlike my recommendation from last month, this podcast isn’t a new one, but is a few years old.
It’s StartUp by Gimlet Media. I listen to quite a few of Gimlet’s podcasts, but I hadn’t listened to this one before.
And let me tell you, every spare minute I get – when I’m doing the dishes, hanging out the washing, driving down the street – I’ve got StartUp on.
It’s a fascinating, fly-on-the-wall look at entrepreneurial life, and what initially got me into StartUp was the final few episodes of the series that document how Gimlet Media was being acquired by Spotify.
I’ve now gone back and listened to the first episodes that explore how Alex Blumberg (who was previously a producer on This American Life and Planet Money) started Gimlet.
It gives such a bracing and vulnerable insight into what it can be like starting a business, and Blumberg is so refreshingly honest about his shortcomings.
So if you’re interested in entrepreneurship, running a business, storytelling and how not to pitch to investors, this is a fab podcast to listen to.
My income for October
As usual, I set my income target for $5000 for October.
I came in over that, with $8569 worth of work commissioned.
I invoiced for $9,360.
I’m starting November with $0 on my income spreadsheet, but I quite like the challenge of having to work my way up to $5K.
I’m not sure I’m ready for this year to end though … what about you?
How was your October?