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In defence of the listicle | Some important TTW news
The internet loves a list, so why don’t we?
Before we get to the main article, this week’s email comes with an important announcement: we’re going weekly, and launching a paid subscriber version! This means things are going to change a little around here, and our content is going to get even better…
Here’s what Talking Travel Writing is going to look like from 6th October:
Everybody gets 1 x free newsletter on the first Tuesday of every month, full of all our usual musings, insider tips and any pitch call-outs we spot on the internet.
Paid subscribers will get weekly emails, including that first free newsletter of each month. The weekly emails will be a deep-dive into the topic of the month, with expert tips and intel from actual editors. Ordinarily, this will cost just £5 per month, or £50 for an annual subscription, but for the rest of 2020 we are slashing that to £3.50 per month and £35 annual, because we know this has been a tough year.
Of course, we can’t ask you to pay without knowing what you’re signing up for, so for the first month everybody is going to get all of the October emails for free. However, if you’re keen to get in on the action and bag a bargain, you can get one of only 10 lifetime subscriptions for just £40 by emailing us and paying before 6th October.
Why are we charging for these emails?
Put simply: because it costs us to produce them. We have to fund our Gsuite inbox, and we set aside a good chunk of our own time (around half a day each) for every newsletter. As work gets busy again, we want to be able to prioritise Talking Travel Writing, and to do that, it needs to become part of our ‘real’ work.
But let’s put the tiny violins away for a moment, because there’s more to it than that. The newsletter has already proven an excellent resource for writers out there – we know this because of the replies we get from every edition.
From October, we hope it’s going to be even more useful, with a different theme each month and plenty of room for delving into the nitty gritty, rather than simply scraping the surface as we have been so far. We will have in-depth chats with a different editor/influential writer each month, and get experts on board to give us proper, practical advice.
Want to know what we’ve got planned? Here’s a selection of the topics we’re going to cover in 2020/21:
Networking (October 2020)
Pitching protocols & tips
How to make enough money as a freelancer
How to make the work come to you
How to get more out of a press trip
Skills for on-the-road reporting
Fostering relationships with PRs and editors
Whatever you want – it’s your newsletter (tell us here)
Still not convinced? Here’s what the people are saying:
I got my first ever commission for a major travel publication after reading just one edition of Talking Travel Writing. I'd never pitched to such a big brand before, but the newsletter offered such insightful tips and practical advice that it inspired me to give it a go - and it worked a treat!
– Maxwell Blowfield (@maxwellmuseums)
Great to wake up to @lottiecgross and @worldlyadventur Talking Travel Writing newsletter in my inbox this morning. Feeling very stuck about what I'm going to do for work this next month, this was definitely the boost I needed.
– Esme Fox (@EsmeFox)
In defence of the listicle
Is there anything more derided in the travel media than the humble listicle?
While a juicy, 2,000-word feature might be the reason you got into travel journalism, like it or not, listicles are a staple part of online publications’ output.
Sure, they’ve been the breeding ground of clickbait headlines, but they’ve also propelled the success of websites such as Buzzfeed, which went from publishing inane listicles about the struggle to identify hedgehogs to Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigative journalism.
Love them or loathe them, listicles are here to stay. In blunt economic terms, there’s a really good reason for this: they bring in readers. And what do readers mean? Well, revenue and the resources necessary for that publication to stay alive. With their attention-grabbing headlines and promise of not-so-taxing content, listicles are the ideal gateway for Googling readers looking for a quick and easy travel fix.
When Lottie was Web Editor for Rough Guides, a large chunk of their content strategy revolved around easy-to-digest listicles that got readers onto the site, before channelling them into meatier,
long-form travel content. It’s a solid approach that I’ve employed for my own travel website, Worldly Adventurer, whereby listicles bring in around a quarter of all page views and a decent slice of advertising revenue.
While it has become popular to decry the state of travel journalism and its fall into the Listicle Gutter of Disrepute, from a writer’s perspective, they can actually be pretty useful. Not only are they easy to write and largely enjoyable to research, they’re also a great tool for maintaining relationships with the PRs who are likely to send you on trips later down the line. Round-ups lend themselves to featuring a handful of new hotels or attractions that you might not have visited – thus offering great coverage for the destinations. Post-press trip, listicles can also serve the same purpose and bolster your reputation as a journalist who secures wide-ranging coverage. Plus, pitch an extra listicle and you’re doing yourself a wholesome financial favour by squeezing the most commissions possible out of one trip.
Finally, I surely can’t be the only person who actually finds them quite fun to write? I started out my travel journo days writing some – mildly entertaining – travel listicles for Rough Guides and it was a zero pressure, quick-reward opportunity to earn a couple of hundred quid writing about a topic that I loved.
Listicles probably won’t win you any awards. But, now more than ever, if they can help keep publications afloat and, consequently, us all in jobs, then surely it’s high time we had a positive word to say about them.
What makes a good list? Lyn Hughes from Wanderlust reveals
Love them or hate them, listicles do brilliantly on our website – get them right and they are gift that keeps on giving. People are all so time poor that they can’t resist the lure of getting the answer to a burning question in just a few minutes.
Alternatively, they may not realise that they have a need until they see a compelling headline that makes them want to click on it.
So when thinking about pitching a listicle to us at Wanderlust, consider the following before you hit send:
Ask yourself first what the need is that people will want to know and are searching for? Is it eg. “x things to do in…”; x best walks in …”?
Keep the list items succinct, useful and relevant. This isn’t the time for fluff! Even though it’s a listicle, the content has still got to be good and deliver what it promises in the headline.
Listicles can get huge numbers of hits; many times that of a beautiful first-person narrative. So, do make sure your list is accurate, up to date and authoritative.
Like any pitch, check your idea hasn’t been covered on the website already. Consider why you, and ensure you know our audience.
Pitch call out
Something for everyone – Come on now, try harder please.
Acronym of the day
NUJ – The National Union of Journalists, the trade union fighting for the employment rights of journalists across the UK. Offering excellent legal support and assistance to staff during redundancy consultations, the NUJ can be a valuable back-up body. Joining fees start at £180 a year and are charged according to your annual earnings.
And we’ve just subscribed to Carrie-Ann’s Lightley’s fortnightly Accessible Travel Newsletter, which rounds up everything that’s happening in the world of travel for disabled people right now. Fair representation of disabled travellers in the mainstream media is pretty poor, so this is an essential read (see the archive here).
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