A very curious thing has happened in our At-Home Pitchapalooza Program.
Even though, at the outset, a lot of folks said they are primarily interested in writing features or writing more features, there is a lot of reticence to nail down the ideas and magazines to pitch those features to.
The method of matching ideas to magazines is just like shorter pieces, and everyone is acing that. (Seriously, I am incredibly proud. I coo to my husband about the transformation I’m seeing in folks every day).
But there is just this sort of silence when it comes to feature ideas…not a lack of good ideas…just a fear about coming up with them in the first place.
The *Real* Reason Pitching Feature Articles Scares You
I totally understand being afraid of pitching features.
But I think what you’re actually afraid of isn’t pitching the feature. It’s writing the feature.
Just the name, “feature,” is so ambiguous!
What’s it meant to be about anyway? (It seems like anything, really, which is why it’s so hard to know if you have the right idea).
And how does it really work in terms of structure? (On the surface, features so often just move us along like any good story that, to the reader, it’s easy to miss that there is any structure it all—making the thought of coming up with that ephemeral, structure-free story even scarier.)
With the Pitchapalooza folks, after enough nudges, several folks finally owned up and said they didn’t think they had the chops to write features in the first place and were nervous about pitching them.
But I told them this, and I want to share it with you as well: I one hundred percent promise you that there are only two ways to get better at writing features BOLD:
studying good travel features
writing travel features for magazines and having them edited by good editors
So, here’s the thing. If you are thinking about pitching travel features, I have to ask you:
- are you reading them?
- do you read them regularly?
- do you read them like a writer rather than a reader?
Because anything you don’t know is scary. But once you understand it, it becomes clear. Easy. A step-by-step process.
Writing travel feature articles is exactly the same.
How to Get Over the Feature Hump
Writing feature articles is where you want to be. It’s where all the “paying your dues” of writing short articles or writing for a magazine’s website leads to.
The pay is the best (as in, with a top publication, you’re looking at $6,000 just for the words, and even the smallest print publications are still over $300-400 minimum for these, but most are in the $1,000+ range), and you just can’t beat the opportunity to dig deep into your travel experiences, share you observations with the world, and transform people who weren’t even on the trip with you in the same way you were transformed.
If there are only two ways to get better at writing features—reading them and writing them—then that means you need to start setting aside some study time and some pitching time.
It really only takes 15 minutes maximum to read a travel feature a day. I’m sure you have that somewhere in the little pockets of time you spend on the subway, waiting for dinner to cook, or lying in bed in the morning avoiding getting up.
Writing pitches for travel features does take a bit longer, but if you are writing about travel in some format—on your own blog, for other websites, or for a column in a local newspaper or magazine—I bet you have feature ideas that you just haven’t pitched yet.
Start sending those out to these smaller magazines that pay more like $300-500 a feature. Work with these editors to improve your writing. Get some first feature clips under your belt.
Practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect, but it’s the only way to go from zero to experienced.
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