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Volunteering My Way To My First Scribing Paycheck
by Roy A. Barnes
One of the basic tenets for finding ideas to
write about is to create works based upon your personal experiences and your
fields of expertise. You automatically have more authority to write about a
particular subject when you've been in the trenches with it, so to speak. It was
this guiding principle that landed my first ever sale as a writer to a travel
In 2001, I began my first volunteer stint for a
program in Spain where English speakers come from all over the globe to interact
in English non-stop with Spanish business people for ten days. By the middle of
2003, I had participated in the program three times (though the talk-a-thon is
now an eight calendar day intensive retreat). I really wanted to share my
experiences in Spain with other travelers. I also desired to see my byline in
print for money via a well-known travel publication.
While researching the markets that would be
interested in my work abroad as a volunteer, I came upon this publication called
Transitions Abroad. I noticed that their readership was made up of travelers who
wanted to know about overseas volunteer opportunities. I studied their
guidelines and fashioned an article for their web-only submissions department
since it offered more compensation than their print medium. In late August 2004,
I submitted the article.
Within a week, I got a nice email from the
webmaster telling me that he had accepted my article. I felt even more blessed
as he went on to say that the editor of their print magazine wanted to publish
my piece also! In December, I received a lump-sum check for $100 for future use
in some of their print and online mediums. When the March/April 2005 print issue
of Transitions Abroad hit newsstands, my article was among the works in
the publication! I am in the same company of contributors to their magazine as
the European travel guru Rick Steves is. It's a neat feeling to be able to
proclaim that I, like Mr. Steves, have written for this travel
Transitions Abroad's website also
features my article from their print edition at: http://tinyurl.com/98eqj
The lessons I've learned from securing my first
sale have taught me much, and still help me in the present: I craft articles
about the things I know about, whether it be the places I've traveled to, my
former employment experiences, etc. I seek out publications that are marketed
toward my experiences and knowledge. I make sure to check all the mediums of a
publication that accepts submissions like its print, online, anthology, etc., to
see which one offers the best chance for an acceptance and bigger paycheck. I do
my very best to submit my work according to the writer guidelines.
I had never had my work accepted elsewhere
except for letters to the editor, company newsletters, and for teachers. But
none of those venues helped me to pay the bills. How ironic that it would take
volunteering to garner my first paying job as a writer!
© Copyright 2005, Roy A. Barnes
Roy A. Barnes writes from southeastern Wyoming. Besides Writing for DOLLARS!,
his writing-themed works have appeared at The Willamette Writer, Write-from-home.com,
Writers Weekly, The Fabulist Flash, The Dabbling Mum,
and others. His travel- and literary-themed works have been published by such
mediums as Transitions Abroad, The Goblin Reader, The
First Line, Northwest Prime Time, The Traveler, The
Kids' Ark, Live Life Travel, and Poesia.
Other articles by Roy A. Barnes :
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