How can we do that?
I don’t know about you, but I suck at taking online courses.
Invariably, I sign up for them, I’m very excited, and then I just don’t make time to log in.
Or I do, and then I’m disappointed because the course is (without advance notice) only available in a video that you have to watch live on the site one at a time with no transcripts or slides or worksheets to do offline, and that simply doesn’t work with my sporadic nomadic email access.
Or, and this happens a lot with courses that make big promises, the course material simply takes WAY more time than advertised because you’re expected to read 25 pages a day and fill in 15 pages of worksheets, and being a freelancer rather than a college student, I simply don’t have that much time to study on top of my work.
For all of these reasons (and I’m sure you have other gripes about online courses that hadn’t occurred to me!), we decided here at Dream of Travel Writing long ago that online courses aren’t for us.
They go against many of our core values, especially:
- We don’t believe large instructor-to-student ratios create tangible results, and we are committed to only offering small group and one-on-one sessions.
- We are committed to helping you navigate the difficult path of running a freelance business, which is not for everyone, to discover which route you personally need to be on and only take the best steps for your needs, background, and situation.
- We are committed to making sure our writers finish what they start.
What We Do Instead of Online Courses
If online video content is your jam, we’ve got a free weekly webinar on growing your travel writing income each Thursday at 3:30 pm EST / 12:30 pm PST.
But the bulk of our work helping travel writers grow their income happens in-person, whether through live workshops around the world, one-on-one coaching, or our weekend workshops at our retreat center in the Catskills.
In the fall of 2016, a small group of writers took the intensive challenge of our first Pitchapalooza: one weekend, nine lesson modules, and 25 pitches.
We talked through questions, brought everyone up to speed on how editors and magazines really work, broke down trips everyone had taken into their component parts and dozens of places to pitch each trip.
Then we took to the on-site magazine library, tearing through issue after issue of everything from airline magazines like United’s Hemispheres and brussels airlines’ b.inspired to hotel magazines from Ritz Carlton to consumer magazines from all around the world like the Philippines’ Travel Now and the U.K.’s Lonely Planet Traveller and The Sunday Times Travel Magazine.
As each attendee looked back at the pitches they wrote before the workshop, they could now see why they hadn’t succeeded and knew how to clean them up or make a fresh start with the editor.
There was a true transformation.
But We Can Only Do a Handful of In-Person Pitchapaloozas Each Year
Since each of these events requires a ton of time and energy from me both in advance and on-site, doing one-on-one meetings twice with each participant and teaching the rest of the day, we can’t hold them all the time, and only a small group that is able to make it to New York is able to attend each one.
I could see how incredible the change was in each writer over the course of the weekend, and I knew I had to find a way to bring that to more of you.
But there are several problems:
- I know you can’t all get to New York for those weekends even if I offer them more often.
- These intensive workshops work best with 4-6 people, so even if I offered one a month, that wouldn’t even make a dent in the list of people who follow us.
- I hate online courses.
- Even if I did offer an online course, the level of energy, excitement, and intense learning would never be the same as a concentrated weekend.
So here’s what I decided to do.
This February and March, we’re going to offer a five-week online program designed to help you create 10 polished pitches and leave confident you know how to write pitches that get responses every time that you can do from your own home.
You can decide how you want to work through it:
- You can read the lesson every day via email, or on the weekends when you have more time, and just imbibe the information without completing the lessons.
- You can do your assignments in private or you can post them in our program forums and get feedback from your fellow participants.
- You can read the lessons in our online learning platform and keep the forum upon throughout the day (like Facebook…but moving your career forward rather than “productively” procrastinating) to see what issues others in the program are facing and how they are surmounting them so you don’t have to hit the same hurdles yourself.
- You can save everything up for your own private retreat weekend or weekend at a completely different time!
Lessons come via email–no need to sign into any other websites unless you want to contribute your assignments for discussion and feedback–and the homework isn’t writing a full article every time; it’s working on your pitches in bite-sized chunks.
It’s incredibly important to me that you’re able to both read the lesson and respond to my email with the homework each day, so I’m keeping it very short and concentrated. Through each lesson, you’ll work on a facet of the pitching process, so that your pitches assemble themselves without you even realizing.
How the At-Home Pitchapalooza Program Will Work
Every day, you’ll receive a concise email with the important learning points for the day, along with links to additional resources if you have time to dig in more.
At the end of the email, there will be a short assignment that you’ll either hold onto for a later step or you’ll finish and post for review.
And just like our live events, you’ll get access to our Travel Magazine Database for the duration of the course to find magazines to match your pitches to.
Over the course of five weeks, we’ll:
- learn what editors are really looking for (specifically in addition to why they use freelancers in the first place)
- break down your past trips and future trips into pitches tailored for specific publications
- learn how specifically to pitch short magazine sections (100-300 words), recurring columns, and features
- troubleshoot all the common pitch issues and work through all the snags you are each hitting individually
- spend time not only writing pitches, but reworking them to make sure they hit the mark
- break down common editor responses, how to handle them, and how to negotiate for higher rates when you do get the assignment
To make sure that you’re never worried about falling behind, I’m only going to send lessons Monday through Friday. If you are a full-time freelancer, do your lessons during your normal work time during the week. If you have another full-time job, feel free to catch up on the weekend.
Here’s how the course is scheduled:
- Week 1: Lay the groundwork for the 10 pitches we’ll write by examining ourselves and our trips
- Week 2: Familiarize ourselves with the magazine landscape and the magazines we’ll pitch and find the why and what for each of our pitch ideas
- Week 3: Continue writing the “what” section of our pitches as we learn about feature structure and the best ways to create powerful leads
- Week 4: Polish our pitches and work through common pitch hiccups as we add headlines and “about me” paragraphs that pop
- Week 5: Send our pitches out, plan our next round of pitches for our upcoming trips, and learn how to handle editor responses
- The course runs Monday, February 16, through Friday, March 16, 2018.
- As access to the Travel Magazine Database for the duration of the course is included, if you already have a monthly or yearly subscription or access through a prior event, that will be extended.
- The course is capped to ensure I have time to read everyone’s work.
- If you ever find your assignments taking longer than you have time for, let me know what’s holding you up and I’ll share tips to work more efficiently or get over what’s holding you back.
- As with all of our programs, the At-Home Pitchapalooza carries our money-back guarantee. If you use the content of this email workshop and the Travel Magazine Database to pitch regularly for three months and don’t get any responses from editors, we’ll not only will we give you all of your money back, we will also give you three pitch-letter critiques and a coaching call to get your pitching on track so you do get responses from editors.
Frequently Asked Questions
What if I know I won’t be able to complete the assignments every day and will need to do them in chunks when I have time?
No problem! The forums are there whenever you’re ready for them.
How long will it take to complete the assignments?
I typically recommend allotting anywhere from a half hour to two hours for each assignment, depending on your level of experience and how fast you write.
What if I’d prefer to do the program later this year, like in May or June. Will you run it again then?
We are currently only running this program once or twice a year as it is a significant time commitment for me and requires me to have a pretty low-key travel schedule, so it may not be available again until next year.
If you know you want to work through the program sometime this year, I recommend signing up for the now so that you’ll have the program to work through at your own pace when it’s a better time for you.
What if I already have a subscription to the Travel Magazine Database?
If you already have a monthly subscription to the Travel Magazine Database, we’ll refund your payment for the month of the program. If you have an annual subscription, we’ll push the expiration date out for another month.
What if I’m just not sure that writing for magazines is the right thing for me right now? I’ve got a blog and I do some other freelance writing that’s not travel-related, and I also do freelance catering and some other things.
It sounds like you might be better off with someone one-on-one coaching to figure out what is the best path for you, but in the meantime, I recommend checking out this blog post on what kind of travel writing is best for you and this webinar on how to triple your travel writing income writing for magazines.
What if I have another question?
Shoot us an email and let me know and we’ll get you sorted out!
I don’t have anything else to tell you!
It sounds like you’re looking for a way to take your travel writing to the next level, but just on the fence about ponying up for the program or clearing space in your schedule to commit to working through the lessons.
If either of those is true, acknowledge, forgive yourself for thinking those are inadequacies and own that this is not the right program for you at this time.
But if you still feel something nagging at you, join us! We’ve got a money and more back guarantee.