Program members: Access the forum for the At-Home Pitchapalooza Program here.
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, 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.
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 fall of 2016, a small group of writers took the intensive challenge of our 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.
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.
- 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.
A couple times a year, we offer a five-week online program designed to help you create 10 polished pitches on your own timeline from your own home (or wherever you are in the world at that moment!) and wrap up confident that you know how to write pitches that get responses every time.
We’re able to include more information in the five-week format than you get in one weekend, but by breaking it up across this time period, you can work through the content at your own pace, while still having the accountability of your peers that are on the same journey in the forums.
You’ll work on your pitches in bite-sized chunks.
It’s incredibly important to me that you’re able to both read the lesson and get through the homework each day, so I’m keeping it the assignments 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 Works
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 in the forum.
And just like our live events, you’ll get access to our Travel Magazine Database for the duration of the program to find magazines to match your pitches to.
Over the course of five weeks, you’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 program 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
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?
In that case, if you aren’t sure if you’ll have time to do the assignments every day, no worries! The accountability and scheduling of when to complete the assignments are up to you.
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 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 June payment. 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 me an email and let me know and we’ll get you sorted out!