Welcome to the Dream of Travel Writing–the Monday Mailbag! We often get questions from readers, folks in our accountability group, or coaching program members that we think would apply to a lot of you.

Now, with permission, agony-aunt-style, we’ll be sharing a new one with you each Monday. If you have a question you’d like to see included, please send it to us at questions [at] dreamoftravelwriting.com and make sure to include a line saying we have permission to reprint your question.

On to the tricky travel writing questions!

The Background

I’m seeing an increase in questions like this, so I wanted to share it with you.

First, let’s look at the question and then, I’ll tell you some other situations this also comes up in:

I have a friend who is a travel editor, who is super professionally experienced, former veteran freelancer, has known me since my intern days and has always been a bit big sisterly to me.

She assigned me a guide assignment to me casually on like Facebook chat because she told me I should pitch her, but then in the same breath asked where I was going in the near future and just offered up that assignment on her own. Then she said some things about how I would be hearing from her via work email in a few weeks to firm things up and gave me her email address.

So, this is what confuses me: should I email HER or wait for her to contact me, and if so should I be more formal than usual cause it’s hammering out the official assignment? Or is she just expecting me to email her now and assumed she didn’t even need to clarify that because it’s just what people do after getting an informal assignment?

Would it be weird to now send a formal pitch for that assignment since we already talked about it, or does she need that so she has a digital trail in her work email?

I’m afraid I’ll miss some kind of freelancing social cue and do something that comes off as rude. What do you think?

This happens with editorial assignments less frequently, but I see a lot of you picking up “assignments” like this at blogging conferences, whether during speed dating or just chatting with tourism boards and travel companies.

My Advice

In these cases, the stress of the follow-up is always much harder than the follow-up itself. In fact, you shouldn’t really think about it.

Here’s why: You’re a professional. Professionals need contracts, approved rates, and formal go-ahead to begin work. That’s how construction contractors and web designers do it, and how you should too.

I told this freelancer to take this tack:

“1. I would be (at least to start) definitely a bit more formal corresponding with her at her work email, but with care not to be stilted/awkward of course! And then let her dictate the tone she wants to use in her work email.

2. I would follow up with her at the work email address she provided, but I agree, this whole thing of whether you need to send a full pitch or not is confusing from her FB messages. Here’s essentially the email I’d recommend:

‘Hi _____,

I’m reaching out as requested to further our conversation on the Sante Fe guide assignment that we had discussed previously in a more casual setting.

I know there were some specific details that you wanted to firm up, and I also wanted to make sure that we clarified the deadline, word count, pay rate, and contract.

Look forward to working on this piece with you!




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