June - a month of saying no
Are you as stunned as me that June is over already? Each year I set myself goals and targets that I want to achieve and happily, I’ve started hitting lots of them, including ramping up the amount of travel writing I do. This year, almost 80 per cent of the articles I’ve written have been travel related (that may explain the big drop in income!) But this month I’ve had to say no quite a lot - especially to things I really have wanted to do.
June - the month of saying no
In terms of feature articles for magazines and newspapers, this month I:
Commissions from pitches or query letters: 3
Offers: 2 (where the editor approached me with a commission)
In terms of feature articles for corporate and B2B clients: (I don’t pitch these)
Overall number of articles filed: 10
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I’m still pitching a few ‘left over’ stories from my Canada trip from last month; so far I have four stories commissioned, but I’m keen to get one more out of the trip.
When I first started travel writing, my initial plan was to try and get a story for every day I was away, but now I’ve paced myself a little and aim for one story commissioned for every two days I’m away.
With my Canada trip I was away for seven days, so even though four stories covers my rule of thumb, I feel passionate about this one last idea so am determined to find a home for it.
Lowlights of June
An offer I had to refuse
Early in June I received a lovely email from a well-known food writer who was in charge of organising a conference.
She was writing to invite me to present at the conference.
Unfortunately I couldn’t go because the dates clashed with another trip that was scheduled.
It’s never easy to say no to gigs like this (especially because this one was in a beautiful location overseas) because you never know when the opportunity may come up again.
Another offer I had to refuse
After catching up with a PR at TravMedia’s IMM, I was offered a spot on a domestic famil.
It was a great looking press trip with loads of different potential story angles. But even though I pitched and pitched, none of my regular editors (and even some I haven’t written for before) were keen.
In the end the PR said that I could still come along and pitch afterwards, but I really don’t like doing this so I declined.
I know that in some parts of the world, it’s much more accepted to go on a fam trip and pitch afterwards, but in Australia, it’s very much expected that writers will pitch and get commissioned before they go on a press trip.
It’s a real pity because as I said, the trip itself looked great and there were at least five other journalists and editors going, but my priority is getting great commissions, and because I couldn’t guarantee an article in a publication, I said no.
And yet another offer ….
You’d think it gets easier - getting offers and having to turn them down - but it really doesn’t.
Especially when I received an email from an editor of a publication that I’ve written for once, but have been trying to break into for ages, asking if I’d like to go on a famil on behalf of the publication.
I’ll be away on holidays with my family so I’ve had to say no.
Logically, I know this must happen all the time.
Editors approach freelance travel writers to go on trips and travel writers being freelance and peripatetic can’t go on every single trip they’re offered.
I get that. But the people pleaser (and the I’d-like-to-write-for-that-publication person) in me did have a little foot stamping moment!
This last offer though (and a recent fam trip) has really made me rethink something about travel writing, and I’m going to tackle that in a blog post in the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned.
Tech troubles - again
I ran into a huge issue in the middle of June when my site went down for over 24 hours. And of course it was the day that my blog post was scheduled to go live.
So needless to say, ’m still in the process of moving my site from Squarespace to Wordpress and it’s a bit of a nightmare.
I just want to click my fingers and have someone do it all for me.
And until my site is over at Wordpress, I can’t launch my course, and I had hoped to have my course well and truly in the second phase by now, so it’s so disappointing that it hasn’t gone live yet.
I’ve been given the name of an excellent developer (thank you Rachel!) and already she has made so much progress on my site, so I’m hopeful that it won’t be too long until we’re in business.
Highlights of June
A famil to the outback
I spent a beautiful couple of days and nights at this new outback luxury lodge in Queensland.
It was utterly spectacular (we were helicoptered in and out), peaceful, dirty (we got to hoon around on some all-terrain vehicles), and emotional (visiting the 1921 site of Queensland’s worst mine disaster).
Sometimes (often), the side benefit of going on famils or press trips is that you are there with other writers, journalists and editors. This trip was fairly small - just three of us - but the other writer and editor were such fabulous company that they were also a highlight of the trip.
Funnily enough, just days earlier I had filed my first story to the editor who was on this trip, without knowing that she was going to be there.
As you can imagine, it was a strange and vulnerable feeling meeting her and knowing that she would be reading my story (probably while we were away together).
Some lovely feedback
As you know, I’m pretty happy to share my mistakes with you, because I believe that often that’s where the learning is.
But I thought you might also like to know that I received praise from an editor who had previously given me tactful but devastating feedback about one of my articles.
I love writing for this editor because she is scrupulous and meticulous, but it does mean that I often open her emails with my hands over my eyes.
So it was relief to receive this email after I submitted my latest article.
“Hi Lindy, Just wanted to let you know that I think your piece is what I would professionally define as ‘a cracker’. I’m so pleased - thank you so much.”
Big sigh of relief!
Save the date
On 17th August in Sydney I’m going to be sharing my pitching secrets about how to land new high-paying corporate clients, while editors in print, digital and custom media will be sharing what they love and hate in pitches.
Tickets aren’t on sale just yet, but you can register at the link above and be one of the first to know when bookings open.
Rachel is also looking into making the workshop available online, but you’ll have to register to receive all the info about that.
Space in these workshops has been purposefully limited to make sure that they are intimate and so that freelancers get a great chance to really interact with the presenters.
The first two masterclasses also look amazing, so make sure you check them out if you’re interested in boosting your freelance writing business.
A resource I’d recommend
This is a bit of an unusual resource this month.
Unusual in the way that I’m not recommending a physical resource that anyone can access.
Rather, what I want to recommend is: the resource of other freelance writers.
I am by no means an extrovert, but I adore having freelance writers who I am regularly in touch with.
Some writers I met through the super supportive online Graduate Group after doing AWC courses (affiliate link) - and when I say “met” many of them I only know online, through chats, messages and emails.
Other writers and editors I’ve met on famils.
I would usually find going away with a group of strangers to be a fairly stressful experience, but so far (touch wood) I’ve had nothing but wonderful press trip experiences. The conversation is usually so easy and interesting when you are with likeminded writers.
I’ve got a few writerly friends who live in different states who regularly message me and we chat about what we’re up to for the day or any issues we’re facing. Sometimes we swap pitches or our stories for another set of eyes. That can be such a vulnerable-making exercise, but I’ve found most writers are genuinely happy to help and are only looking to give comments that will improve a pitch or a story.
We can often look for resources in terms of books or blogs or seminars, but very often the deepest, most wonderful resources are other people.
There’s just something about connecting with, talking to and listening to other freelance writers that makes me feel totally at home. Like I’ve found my tribe. And in this noisy world, that seems like the most valuable resource of all.
My income for June
As a part-time freelance writer, I set my income target at $5000 for June.
For the first time in a few months, I actually exceeded my income target, and had $6913 worth of work commissioned.
I invoiced for $6416 in June.
How was your June? How was the first half of 2019 and what are your plans, hopes and goals for the second half?