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Last Updated on September 14, 2022
Learn how to turn freelance travel writing into a career and what it’s really like to get paid six-figures to write about traveling the world!
It’s a job most people hear about it and automatically assume that it’s a luxurious lifestyle filled with relaxing vacations and perks. And while that’s partly true, there’s definitely a lot more to this career than meets the eye.
Today we’re getting a peek behind-the-scenes at what it really means to have a freelance travel writing career and how to make a six-figure, sustainable living when most people tell you that there’s no money in this line of work. (Hint: they’re wrong!)
Like any career, some of the best tips if you’re interested in travel writing come back to simply being a kind human–including following industry etiquette and developing a work ethic to keep you focused on the job.
We’re also discussing what travel trips REALLY look like when you’re a journalist, and some of the not-so-glamorous aspects of being a freelance travel writer, plus how to decide what jobs are worth saying yes to.
My guest today is my friend, Jennifer Bradley Franklin, an Atlanta-based multi-media journalist, storyteller, editor and author. Her work appears in Conde Nast Traveler, Architectural Digest, Bon Appetit, USA Today, Delta SKY, American Way, People, Food Network, Southbound, Flavors, Hospitality Design, Time.com, Southern Seasons, and a host of others.
She holds an ABJ in Journalism from the University of Georgia’s Grady College. Jennifer has ridden a camel in Morocco, dug ditches in a remote Kenyan village, been taught to make gnocchi by a master chef in Florence, and learned to surf in Australia. However, one of her greatest joys has been immersing herself in some of the biggest concerns facing America’s young people – weighty issues like poverty, hunger and much more–through the research and writing of Make it ZERO.
Thanks so much for joining me this week. Have some feedback you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below!
If you enjoyed this episode, please share it using the social media buttons you see at the bottom of the post.
Also, please leave an honest review for The Success with Soul Podcast on Apple Podcasts so we can improve and better serve you in the future. Plus, you could be featured on a future episode during our listener spotlights. Ratings and reviews are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated! They do matter in the rankings of the show, and I read each and every one of them.
And finally, don’t forget to subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts to get automatic updates. My goal for this podcast is to inspire those who seek flexibility and freedom in their lives by making something happen with holistic, soulful, step-by-step strategies from me and other experts.
Kate Kordsmeier 0:02
Hello, hello, it is Episode 19 of the Success with Soul podcast and I'm your host, Kate Kordsmeier. Today Oh man, I'm so excited to share this interview with you. I have one of my dear friends Jennifer Bradley Franklin. She's an Atlanta based journalist. She and I met over seven years ago now and we've worked together we've worked alongside each other our paths have crossed and then gone in different directions. And throughout it all I've just been so impressed by Jennifer's work ethic, her clips she has written for dozens of major national publications, everything from bone appetit and USA Today to the Food Network. And Conde Nast Traveler. She is my friend. I say this. She is my friend who when I look at her life on Instagram, like oh man, you've got it figured out. She has ridden a camel in Morocco she's dug ditches in a remote Kenyan village been taught to make neoci by a master chef and Florence. She learned how to surf in Australia. As a travel writer Jennifer has the life but she also has one of the kindest, most beautiful souls I've ever met. And one of her greatest joys, she's admitted has been immersing herself in some of the biggest concerns facing America's youth. So she's tackled weighty issues like poverty and hunger and so much more, especially through the research and writing of her incredible book, make it zero. So I'm really excited to share Jennifer's wisdom with you guys. Today. We are covering lots of different topics from copywriting versus editorial work and how to find that right balance to pay your bills and fuel your soul. We're going over how to maintain journalistic integrity treating your writing like a business versus a hobby and what that means. mindset shift can look like and what it can result in. And then finally, I think this is going to be really helpful for anybody who's interested in travel writing. We're talking about press trips, what they are, how to get invited, how to maximize your time away and your income when you return. It's a great episode. Let's get into it. You're listening to the Success with Soul podcast with Kate Kordsmeier, x journalist turned CEO of a multi six figure blog and online business. But it wasn't that long ago that Kate was a struggling entrepreneur who lacked confidence, clarity, and let's be honest money. But all those failures, experiments and lessons learned helped Kate create a thriving business that impacts thousands and brings freedom, flexibility and fulfillment to her life. If you're ready to do the same and make something happen with holistic, soulful, step by step strategies from Kaden other experts. You're in the right place. here's your host, writer, educator, Mom, recovering perfectionist, bookworm and sushi connoisseur, Kate Kordsmeier. Hey, Jennifer, so glad to have you.
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 3:16
Good to see you. Hear you.
Kate Kordsmeier 3:19
I know it's been a while. So Jennifer and I both live in Atlanta and we met as freelance writers. And it's been a while we used to have more like networking, catch up friendly, you know, meals and stuff and haven't done that in a while. So I miss you.
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 3:36
I know. I miss you, too. It's fun to get to catch up in this format as well.
Kate Kordsmeier 3:41
Yeah. So I want to talk today. Let's start with just a little bit of your story. I know that when people hear you're a freelance travel writer, they always have tons of questions and maybe some judgments that they because they don't understand what that means. But tell us your story, how you got started and kind of bring us up to speed of where you are now.
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 4:05
Yeah, so I've known that I want to be a writer since I was, gosh, I think like second grade or something like that, and have always just been an avid reader and always left to right. Went to school for journalism, I intended to be a broadcasting like talking head on TV. But what I really discovered while I was at the University of Georgia was that I loved the writing part, even more than I loved being on camera. So I transitioned wrote for a national magazine while I was in school and ended up in marketing for a bit after graduation, and just found that I was sort of jealous of all of the journalists that I was working with to help them produce stories. And so I started freelancing on the side sort of under a pen name, which was a great way for me to establish myself doing some travel writing, because I think, you know, most people's assumption to your point with travel is that maybe it's not very lucrative and that can sometimes be true, and so It was great for me to kind of exercise that entrepreneurial muscle, while I had a full time job, writing about things that were completely non competitive for my day job, and really just pursuing travel, which was a passion for me. And so that allowed me to kind of get a bit established. And then in 2011, I went full time freelance. And it was a bit of a leap of faith. I wasn't, I think, at the time, that was certainly before you and I knew each other. But, you know, at the time, I think my perception of freelancing was sort of a version of unemployed. And so, you know, I didn't really know what that looked like, but I knew that I had to treat my writing like a business because it had to support me. And so I certainly included travel in that mix. But, you know, also incorporated some other things because also I don't necessarily want to be on the road all the time. I have friends that do that job and they're constantly gone and not really what I want to do. About for myself. And so within my sort of mix of what I write about, I do some celebrities, I do some service oriented features, certainly travel, some food, some beauty, some wellness, some business profiles, some design and decor, and then some corporate copywriting and so what I found is that I love the flexibility of having all of that in my mix rather than sort of super specializing in one thing, it keeps me from being bored, it gives me just a lot of variety and and that has really worked well for me. So I've had the privilege of writing for publications like Conde Nast Traveler Bon appetit. I'm a regular contributor for delta sky magazine and fly for delta USA Today, just a pretty wide variety Architectural Digest. So it's been a wonderful journey and honestly, the money piece of it has been much better than I would have thought possible when I first started in 2011.
Kate Kordsmeier 7:00
Yeah, for sure. I know that when I quit my full time job to go full time freelance people thought I was insane. And we're like, what does that even mean? And you're not gonna make any money? And then it's like, no, if you do it right, you can make a lot of money freelancing. And I've always been interested in your balance of corporate copywriting work and editorial with magazines and websites and stuff. So can you talk a little bit about what percentage has you know, and maybe it's changed over the years to?
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 7:34
Yeah, it has really changed. I mean, when I first started, when I first started in 2011, I, you know, had done some copywriting by virtue of my marketing job, but that like I had no real background in that. But I had this sense that, you know, maybe corporate writing could be more lucrative or potentially more steady. And so I made myself available to some companies. But, I mean, I hate to say I fell into it. It wasn't like super strategic. I just kind of reached out to people that I knew might need copywriting services and then everything really since then has sort of been on the basis of a referral. And it has been a bit of an ebb and flow. I've worked I've done some coffee or you know, even sometimes been on retainer for companies like Kimberly Clark professional Newell brands, they have a baby brand called credo which I'm sure you're familiar with given the mama Nina paper company rinnai, which makes tankless water heaters. So for me, it's always been the corporate writing that I've done has always been not competitive with the things that I'm covering editorially. So that's one thing that I like to say, I know some journalists maybe don't have that standard. That's always been something that felt kind of important to me, so that I can maintain my journalistic integrity when I'm writing for an editorial publication. I'm not you know, being paid by Somebody in that industry to write their branding copy or you know, kind of advertorial type, blog posts and that sort of thing. And so, I think when I first started my perception was because I'd had so many other journalists maybe who, for whatever reason, like weren't making a great living as a journalist. So I had a lot of people in my ear saying things like, you can't make a good living doing this. You're gonna you're going to struggle financially or whatever, and that I don't want to say that I disregarded that advice, but that always, that didn't fully ring true to me. And so I always was of the opinion, you know, if you treat something like a hobby, it'll pay you like a hobby. If you treat it like a business, it will pay you like a business. And so that was always how I approached my writing career, both editorially and in the corporate sector. But I did still have this perception of, I'm probably going to make more money in corporate and so The mix has definitely changed over the years, I will say that last year and 2019, I made approximately 85% of my income from editorial, and only about 10 from corporate so and you know, editorial is truly where my heart is. I mean, that's I love getting to tell stories that readers are gonna interact with. I mean, I do enjoy the brand work, because I found that it is it's really exciting, I think for brands to work with a professional writer and have their story told in a way that maybe they couldn't have envisioned being able to tell it themselves. And so, you know, there is a lot of fulfillment that comes from that, but I mean, my, my passion and my heart is really on the editorial side. So it was
Kate Kordsmeier 10:48
interesting, too, because I was just thinking when you and I first met, which I think was in 2013. That split looked very different. I feel like you even had a gig where you You are going into their office a few days a week. So that's really interesting to see now, how it's evolved. I mean, of course, it's been seven years. So of course it would evolve. But I love that.
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 11:12
Yeah, that was when I was doing some stuff renewal for Grieco. And I was going in, I think, two days a week to the office and and I loved it because I'm an extrovert and I, I missed that office environment. So you know, sometimes being home all day every day is is not very uplifting to me. And so I really enjoyed the the collaborative atmosphere and that sort of thing. But as I've done, more editorial work, and it's been exciting, I will say it's been very exciting to see that shift happen because it was something that I didn't I wasn't under the impression was possible, especially, you know, making I don't know if you want to talk money, but like, you know, yeah, making around like six figures like to be able to do the majority of that editorially, I think is this just because Writing for me?
Kate Kordsmeier 12:01
Yeah, absolutely. So it's interesting to I mean, I think one of the beautiful things, well, there's so many things, I want to highlight what you just said. But one of the beautiful things of being freelance and setting your own hours and job, you know which jobs you take, and where you put your attention and energy is that you are in control of shifting and seeing like what feels good to you. And that you can have that balance where as an extrovert, there were opportunities for you to still go into an office and be around other people, but then that still gave you enough time to work on the editorial side of things. And then the second thing I want to highlight is what you said about people telling you that you can't make good money because I heard that so much. And I just want like for everybody listening, I just want to say Don't let the people who couldn't figure it out for themselves. Make you think It's not possible. And because it's fully possible, Jennifer and I have both made six figures from editorial writing. And I think there are just a lot of people that don't know how to do it correctly and that so they try to convince us the same thing with bloggers. You know, there's a lot of people that are like, don't start a blog, you'll never make money from blogging. No, I'm sorry that you had trouble with it. But I got it figured out. So like, you know, I think ignore the haters, basically.
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 13:31
I came to realize in that was, and I think I don't think that came, at least in my experience, I don't think that it came from a bad place. I think that people were, they were sharing their experience, you know, and that was their experience. And, you know, at the time I didn't, I didn't have my own experience as a reference. I just knew that I was really motivated. But what I came to realize was that the people that were telling me those things, I mean, I remember I had one person in school cific I remember I'll never forget this conversation. She was somebody that I respected. I liked her writing. She's I considered her a friend. And so I do believe that it was coming from a very pure place. But she remember she just said Jennifer, I, the most I've ever made as a journalist was, as a freelancer was $35,000 in a year, and I worked my butt off. But what I came to realize later, when I was doing it full time, I looked back at her publications, and I realized that they were paying like, a couple cents a word or 10 cents a word or something like that, like you have to write a heck of a lot of words. If you're only making five cents a word, you know, yeah, so I just set myself on a different path and I had different goals and I approached it differently. And you know, the, what is that quote? I think it's like Ben Franklin. It's like the harder I work the luckier I get or something like that. I'm probably attributing that wrong, so don't like that like they might But I do feel like you know, you have to be prepared. And you have to treat it like a business and you have to look for opportunities that will pay you what you want to make, or do you have to create them, which is your blog.
Kate Kordsmeier 15:14
And a lot of times to what I found, like I remember when I first quit my job and started freelancing that I had opportunities come up where they were going to pay me 1020 cents a word or something like that. And Matt, my husband at the time, boyfriend at the time, actually, but same guy. He was like, take what you can get, you just quit your job, you just need to do whatever you can. And I always come back and attribute any success I had as a six figure Freelancer to the fact that I did not do that, that I said no, there is an opportunity cost for taking on low paying work. It means I can't take I'm going to be working on this project that's paying me pennies when I could be using During that time to find higher paying clients, and better work and work that resonates more with, like my heart and what I want to be doing and telling the stories I want to tell. And so it was hard in the beginning because I literally had zero dollars coming in. And, you know, they said, Oh, well, we'll give you $50 to write this thousand word article. And he's like, take it take it. And I just always felt like it wasn't right. And then sure enough, you know, I wrote mostly and you do the same now two and a half for a long time for national publications that pay closer to well at the time $2 a word. And it was so much easier for me to make money and a lot of the people that I found that like your friend, were saying, like the most I've ever made, is 35,000. We're either doing work on sites like Upwork or Elance, or like those kind of content Mills, or really small local publications that just don't have the budget. And so I agree with you, like, you know, work hard, that's important, but also work smart and choose who you're working for wisely. Well, and I mean, Pete could because people have asked me, you know, since then, since I've kind of I mean, and I still don't feel like I have everything figured out. I feel like I'm a lifelong learner, which is part of journalism appeals to me so much they learn from the people I interview and the industries that I cover and that sort of thing. But I mean, my my outlook on that has has always been, you know, I don't want to write for free, I don't want to give away my time for nothing. But there are there have been times I will say as a caveat, there have been times where I've been willing to take a lower paying assignment because it opens the doors either a relationship that I really want to cultivate, maybe a destination that I want to see so that I can mine that destination for other stories that I can pitch to national publications that will be a fresh angle. So you know, for instance, I might take an anchor assignment. And that pays not well, you know, for a local or regional publication, but I know that once I get there, I'm going to have a ton of other story opportunities, and I can sell that story to a big national publication night, not the same words like a fresh angle. And so, you know, I, I also, like, encourage people to really evaluate like where they are right now. Because sometimes, you know, like, I'm never going to tell somebody like, you shouldn't take that assignment because it doesn't, it doesn't pay enough, like maybe enough for them is maybe they have different goals than me.
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 18:36
For me, I agree, like, the opportunity cost is something that you always have to keep in mind, because if an article that pays you $100 is going to take 10 hours, what could you spend that 10 hours doing pitching publications, finding other work, taking on a copywriting assignment that will pay you you know, 15 times that much or whatever. So I think it's Just it's about staying like really present to what your goals are and evaluating each opportunity. I don't have like rules about, well, I will never take an assignment if it's less than this amount because sometimes that really does facilitate something that is worth exponentially more.
Kate Kordsmeier 19:16
So what I'm hearing you say though, is like, but there's intention behind it and there's strategy behind it. You're not just taking it because it's being offered and you just start
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 19:27
creation play at all.
Kate Kordsmeier 19:28
Exactly, exactly. And I think so many people is that that there isn't a lot of strategy. The strategy is I hope this leads to something else, right. That's as far as it goes. So I think there's a big difference there.
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And I want to talk a little bit you know, you've you've mentioned travel writing and doing taking some assignment sometimes to get to a destination and that kind of thing. Let's dig into travel writing I know that's something that is has a very glamorous look from the outside. I know when I was doing it, and you've been all over the world and have had some really incredible opportunities and and it does, it does look really glamorous. So is it Have you found it to be as glamorous as it looks?
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 20:55
Yeah, if you follow me on on Instagram, which I don't post that much, but Travel writing looks like a vacation. Does, you know that setting to some luxurious hotel every other weekend, right? Well, so I mean full disclosure, I typically do. I don't know like eight to 12 International trips a year. My interest is more international not to say that there aren't a ton of like amazing worthy destinations in the United States but I've tended to do more international trips and so I'm not I'm not one of those people that's gone every week. That's that's never really been my, my goal. I think my husband would not want to be married to me if I were to learn all the time, and my dog would be perpetually angry with me. So I will say like it is a job like anything else there any anytime you're just dealing, you know, a week's worth of work into a couple of carefully curated photos for Instagram or Facebook. Of course, it looks super glamorous. I have had amazing opportunities to go to places that I can't them, having taken myself like South Africa on a luxury Safari for a national publication, or, you know, Australia twice, or China or
Kate Kordsmeier 22:11
that trip when you were there, those pictures are just like, oh my god.
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 22:16
Yeah, I mean, it's It is incredible. But I think it's a lot of work. You know, I mean, you have to, you have to be prepared. And as a freelancer, it's not just the job that you're there to do. It's all the other jobs that you're expected to turn in. Because at any given time, I'm, I probably have another 20 different editors that are expecting work for me, you know, over the next two months. And so if that deadline is when I'm super jet lagged and haven't slept in 24 hours, I'm still turning it in that editor does not care that I'm on the other side of the world. So I think it's just, you know, looking at the business holistically, it's not just the job that you're traveling to do. It's like all the other jobs that are Coming do, you know sometimes that means getting up in the middle of the night to do an interview by phone, because that's when your sources available back in the United States or whatever. And I think, you know, I don't know if you want to talk about press trips, because that's kind of its own beast. But you know, a lot of times you have to be really on, even when it's something that maybe you don't care about, or you know that it's not gonna make it into the story, but you need to be really present or the fact that you're kind of I know, some journalists will go to a destination and they have one assignment. They just want to get that enjoy the trip and be done. For me, I approach it again, like a business. I'm always super on and super present to the other stories that are happening around me. So you know, maybe I'm there to cover a new hotel for a design publication. Okay, fine, but like, what's around that hotel? How can I ask for it? Are there any really interesting personality features that could be spun out of that are there any really Interesting, like products that are being produced in that place. And if you are super pigeon holed and you just want to get the one thing that you're there to get, and then tune everything else out, you're really missing a lot. When I went to India a couple of years ago, I sold like five stories from that. And none of them are the same. They were not overlapping. But I, that's how you make it work for you. Because you're, you're there anyway, you should be working it. And that's always how I approach it. So is it wonderful? Is it sometimes very glamorous? Yes, sometimes it is. But it is still a job. And I think that that's the part that people are surprised by occasionally, I've been able to take my husband or a friend on a trip with me and they're like, oh, you're This is work.
Kate Kordsmeier 24:46
Yeah, I was gonna say the same thing about both of the two points that you just made, which for anybody who's either a currently a travel writer or wants to be one. I think these are two really important points to acknowledge. And the first being, yes, it can be incredible opportunities that you maybe would have not had otherwise. But like you said, I remember the first time I took a friend with me on a trip to Hawaii. And I think in her mind, she was thinking girls trip to Hawaii, we're gonna be like sipping my ties on the beach all day. And we got there. And it was like, the itinerary that I had, there were so many things I had to see and do and interview people and take tours, Judea and paste. And it's fun. But I remember like after day two, she was like, wow, this is a lot of work. And I didn't realize that we would be Go Go going the whole time. It does not feel like a vacation now, and that I've found to be very true on pretty much all of the work trips that I took, especially because to your second point. I mean, again, I always felt like thinking about the opportunity costs So yes, you're on this amazing trip, but you're out of the office. And so you need that's time and money that you're going to have to make up when you get back. Or maybe that you're still going to in addition to all the work of being on the ground somewhere that you're going to have to you still have other deadlines, and you still need to be pitching and marketing yourself so that when you get back you have other assignments. And so I always tried to say like, I'm not going to say yes to a trip unless I think I can get at least three stories out of it. And maybe I went knowing what those three stories are. But most of the time I went and was just like, head down eyes, maybe not head down, head up, eyes open, like where are the stories, what's happening here that needs to be told who would it work for? and really being strategic with that, like you said, so. Thank you for bringing that up.
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 26:54
Yeah, I'm sort of relish the chance to bring people on trips with me because you You know, random strangers at parties will be like, Oh, if you ever need an assistant, you know, like, let me know. Yeah, that's awesome. But I'll never forget one time. Similar to your situation with your friend in Hawaii. I brought my mom on. It was just a driving thing from Atlanta to Charlotte and I was producing. It was like, basically like one city for a way so it was like, you know how to Charlotte as like a guys weekend, a girls weekend, family trip, and I think like a romantic getaway or something. So I was we were there for three days, we stayed in three different hotels toward a fourth one. It was literally like, we were measuring the minutes between how long it took to drive to places so that I could drive in a NASCAR car and then, you know, eat at this place. And then, you know, it was just it was crazy. My mom, I'm exhausted. Uh huh. Yep. Yeah.
Kate Kordsmeier 27:51
Yeah, there's always I feel like after most of my trips, I was like, I can't wait to come back here and like vacation here because that was very, very Far from a vacation. So you mentioned press trips to and I'd love to chat about this. What is a press trip? How can people get invited on press trips? How did you start getting involved in press trips? And yeah, let's go down that hole
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 28:13
real people will call them you might hear them called press trips you might hear them called fam trips which which stands for familiarization trips. Media trips, media junkets like these are all kind of synonyms for the same kind of thing. And typically what that means, as you know, is that an entity be at a hotel or a destination, a city, a country will typically work with like a media relations person and put together a trip where by journalists can come and experience some of the best things that that place or hotel or whatever has to offer. And so these can be sort of like great opportunities to see a destination and experience it and mine it for stories without coming out of pocket and oftentimes without a magazine Coming out of pocket, they also, you know, I will say like, if you're going on someone else's dime, you have to be on their schedule. So you know if they are starting the schedule at 7am, and it doesn't end until 11pm. That's what you're doing. Now I will say the more savvy I've gotten, the longer I've done this job, there are some PR firms that I don't prefer to work with anymore, because I know that they pass the schedules to a point that you just can't take in that much information. And so, for me, you know, I prefer to work with people who understand that I have a job to do there. I also have other responsibilities to other clients and other work that needs to happen. And so I also prefer to be on trips that builds in a little bit of time for me to discover something unique because if you're sort of in back to back to back tours and tastings and interviews, where a collection of journalists are all seeing the same thing. My fear is always that maybe my story or perspective won't seem as unique. So I always try to build in time to see something on my own. I will say that some publications out there, like, for instance, the New York Times is super famous for this, they do not allow journalists to take any freebies, as they call it. So no press trips, no guests, no pay for travel. And so I will say that most publications don't have the luxury of that level of ethics.
They're, you know,
Kate Kordsmeier 30:28
they can't pay for it. They have to, you know, they need the content. So it's like, most places, I think, have gone by the way of just saying, like, however you get the story is fine.
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 30:39
Yeah, however you get there. And so, I mean, I still obviously, it's very important, I think, for me always to maintain journalistic integrity. And so, you know, for the most part, I'm not like reviewing hotels, I'm not reviewing restaurants, they're, they tend to be more first person style features. And so, you know, there have been things that I've been experience on a press trip that I haven't wanted to write about. And so I haven't written about that element or whatever. I try to do a lot of research ahead of time so that I kind of have a sense of what I'm going to discover. I certainly go in with an open mind. But, you know, to your point, I kind of want to have a sense of what stories I'm going to have access to or be able to tell, so that I make sure that the trip is worthwhile. And then as far as you know, how to get on this magical press junket. Yeah, I think that's always a question that people have. I mean, I, I would say publicists in general are the gatekeepers. So cultivating relationships with publicists is really important. So there are travel PR agencies that really specialize in travel. A lot of them are in New York, there's certainly some spread across the country and other cities, la Atlanta, I mean, there are agencies all over the place. And so I guess you just apply I how I've done it anyways, like applied good relationship principles. So oftentimes, it wasn't You know, like I was reaching out and saying, Take me to this destination, but maybe I was working on, you know, a service piece that I needed information from one of their clients. And so I just had occasion to correspond with them. And then they invited me on a trip, perhaps. And then I think maintaining professionalism and being nice and flexible, and just, I mean, just generally like a good person, really go away on trips, because you know what a press trip is not as a vacation to your earlier point. And, you know, as long as I think as long as you are professional and maintain, like a good attitude, and you do what you say you're going to do, you produce what you say you're going to produce and have good integrity. You know, publicists talk, and so, you know, I can't count the number of times that I've worked with somebody at an agency and either that person has moved on or they've shared my name with others in their agency and then that has precipitated other trips. So, you know, I think as big as the industry is it's also kind of like a small town, everybody knows each other. And it's very easy to get a good reputation or a bad reputation for how you act on press trips. And a little trick that I am. It's not a trick. It's just I think maybe being from the south or being raised a certain way or whatever. But I tend to send a thank you note to the publicist after press trips, because you know, they've spent their time hosting and planning and facilitating interviews and gathering photos and help just helping you do your job better. And so, I've always found that just a thank you goes a long way because a lot of people don't do that. And I think that that has helped me gain a reputation among publicists as being someone who is nice to work with and so they continue to invite me.
Yeah, yeah, for sure.
Kate Kordsmeier 33:50
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When I was first getting started with travel writing, what I did is I fake I did some just like Google research on who are the travel PR agencies in the US. And I just sent an introduction email to a couple people where I would just say something like, Hey, I just wanted to introduce myself. My name is Kate that I write for I would love to be added to your media list. And that was the only ask that I was giving. You know, I wasn't going like to your point. I didn't go and say, I saw you represent, you know, South Australia. I'd love to go there. And you know, off on a trip. So it was more just this is who I am. I'd love to work together. Can you add me to your media list? And these are the kinds of stories I write, how can I help you or whatever. And it was just like, immediately from there, I started getting dozens of press trip invitations. Like very quickly and again, I think there is a lot of etiquette to be followed. I mean, there were some times on press trips, where people would get like, blackout drunk and like, okay, you know, this is still a professional setting, even though we may be tasting gin at a distillery, like you got to keep your shit. Yeah. Yeah. And then I also, as a freelancer, I would always make it really clear that I couldn't promise or guarantee anything, both in that it was like, I'm coming. First to do research and editorial for editorial consideration. And second, that as a freelancer, I ultimately don't have the final say. So my editor could take a story now and it gets killed later or they change the angle or something like that, which happened all the time. But I found that prefacing it up front and saying, here's the situation, you probably know this, but I just want to be clear. Like, I think that gave people the publicist like a lot of respect that I was trying to do the right thing and make it clear. And then I would kind of say sometimes to like, but the benefit of having me as a freelancer on your trip instead of an editor who only works at one publication is that I can write about this for dozens of people. Right?
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 37:49
Yeah. When addition to that, I actually got this advice early on, actually on a press trip in Mexico from a really prolific writer, and it's something that has really served Well, because I think so many sort of wannabe writers will approach their potential job as a journalist a bit like a hobby. And I think one of the things that has really set me apart over time and I know that you, you know, used to do this, too, is trying to meet editors and publicists face to face. And so, while I have not done it in the very recent past, I have made it a point to try to make a trip up to New York and do you know, three staff days of publicist and editor meetings, because I think, you know, a lot of people aren't willing to put their own money behind, you know, advancing their career. And so for me, investing some funds into a trip to New York and scheduling those meetings, really goes a long way. Because, you know, from a publicist perspective, they see that you present really well they see that you're buttoned up that you're professional that you're going if they bring you on a trip to another country or to a hotel client or something that you're going to present really well. And that you're gonna make them look good. And the same is true for editors, you know, they feel more confident, assigning you a story whereby you're going to go represent that publication in a destination or to a public, you know, PR company or whatever. I think just having that opportunity to meet face to face really says a lot about Freelancer and your job seriously, like you said that you're willing to come up.
Kate Kordsmeier 39:30
Yeah, ultimately, like these editors, they're just people too, and they're more likely people want to work with people they like to so in addition to presenting this very professional, like, you can trust me, front, I'm not front, but you know, you're introducing them to who you are as a professional. You're also introducing them to your personality, and you're much more likely to get assignments from people who know like and trust you then people who have never heard of you before.
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 39:58
Yeah, exactly. And then The second point that I was going to make on what you said was, I think, you know, it's interesting to hear because I have some Facebook, like sort of secret Facebook groups of travel writers and stuff. And there's been a lot of talk about, you know, publicist demanding a firm assignment before you can go on a trip. And I know that, you know, especially as economics change, and I think, to be honest, I think like the influencer culture has sort of damaged some of the credibility of journalists, freelancers going on trips, because, you know, sometimes in the influencer world, things will be promised or not delivered, or there's like these really big asks. And so I think some hotels or destinations and airlines have gotten kind of sensitive about that. And so they're like, we kind of want to know, like, where we're spending money to fly someone, somewhere, bring somebody here, we really want to know what the output is. And so that has been to me like part of the value of having I have a few like local publications in Atlanta that I know I can put a travel story with. And so sometimes I'll use those like, potentially lower paying or writing opportunities to get sort of that like anchor assignment just to get me on that, if it's something I really want to do. And then when I'm there, they know like, she's a freelancer, she's going to come up with other story ideas, and so on. So there, there are multiple ways to work in. And I think, you know, just being being really upfront about what you can and cannot promise as a freelancer, there's a lot of value in that and the more you cultivate relationships that are full of trust with PR companies and individual publicist, I think, you know, you're in a better position to ask for that sort of good faith to get on a trip. Yeah, no, you at that point,
Kate Kordsmeier 41:45
right. And you can back it up with clips and say, here's an example when I went to India, I produced these five stories for these different publications and this is what I plan to do on this trip as well. Even if I can't guarantee things right now. But yeah, that's such a good advice. And you said something that I was like, I want to make a note of that. And of course now I've no, it's escaped to me.
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 42:15
say one other thing on just communication, which I was. This is a recent experience. I was assigned sort of a rush job. It was going to be a 10 page feature for an international airline magazine. And a couple of things shifted with advertising commitments. And the piece got it was they still bought it, but they basically they're parsing it out, kind of chopping it up into multiple issues. And so, you know, I still got paid for it. It was a lucrative project, but I had worked with, I mean, it was like over 40 different publicists to get interviews and you know, information and photos. It was just it was a massive project and it probably took me 40 hours, it was crazy. Anyway, so when I got the news from My editor, of course, I was disappointed for myself because I was excited about this 10 page travel feature coming out in March. But I was also, you know, kind of aware that I had this army of people that had been kind enough to give me information and interviews and their time. So I sent you know, massive blind copy email out basically updating everybody on what was going on. I got a flood of responses from publicists and individuals who I interviewed and worked with saying, nobody does this. Nobody communicates like, we do our part of the work and then nobody really like if something like nobody tells us, you know, I think I even had one person say like, Oh my gosh, you're a unicorn like, nobody really does this. And I feel like that was such a good reminder for me because I just felt like I was doing the right thing. That it was like a little bit of self preservation because I knew those emails. like where's the story? We're gonna come flooding in come the time that was supposed to be published. So I think it's just sometimes it's just being thoughtful and being human looking go like a long way, especially in an industry where you know, that maybe has a reputation for being a bit cutthroat. And just adding that extra dose of thoughtfulness like really does make a big difference and does help establish establish your reputation as being somebody who's nice to work with.
Kate Kordsmeier 44:24
Yeah, absolutely. I love that and yeah, being human who knew it could be so powerful, right? Well, that's such a good place to end on I know you've got somewhere you have to be. So I we wrap up the interview by asking everybody the same five just like lightning round questions. So we'll just knock these out real quick. And just want to make a note here too, for listeners that if you're interested in more in like the how to get started and how do you pitch editors and more of that angle of freelance writing. Go back to listen to me. Episode 13 with Nevin Martel, we get into a lot of the nitty gritty of like pitching and how you get assignments and stuff. But I wanted this episode to be more focused on on travel and how do you get invited on these trips? And how do you Yeah. Okay, the first question in a lightning round, what's your favorite way to make time for self care while running your own business? Um,
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 45:24
I mean, I love to read, I feel like that makes me a better writer. And that is something that just, I just love it. So if I get really consumed with a story, it's almost like I have to exercise discipline to do my work instead of, you know, wanting to finish. It's like stopping a TV episode in the middle. So that's just something that I genuinely love. So it it actually sort of feels effortless and I always feel so much more rejuvenated when I've spent time diving into a great book or a great story or a great long form magazine article. I feel like it's an effortless way to sharpen my skills as a writer, but also So kind of have some time to disconnect from technology and screens.
Kate Kordsmeier 46:05
Yeah, I love that. What's one tool or strategy that you use to help with time management?
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 46:15
Honestly, a hard one. I Time management is hard for me in general, but I do have, I'm not going to remember it right now. It's like a time tracker website. Um, it's going to escape me because I'm not helpful. No, one's not toggle. It's a different one. It's cam, Cam camp calm, then. So I don't always check my time on every project, but on bigger projects that I'm kind of trying to evaluate whether or not it's a good use of my time or not. I think that's really important. I think that's something that you and I had talked about a long time ago was just kind of taking stock at the end of every year. You know, what paid you Well, what did you enjoy? I mean, I also kind of always think of like the emotional cost and things like that. Was this really just fraught with kind of pleasant interactions? Or was this client amazingly lovely to work with, and then kind of bumping that up against the time and the money that were involved. So sometimes when I'm especially like editing a publication or something for a fixed rate, I will use time camp to determine how long things are taking me because I think my natural inclination is to overestimate or underestimate how long I really did spend on something and that just to have that in black and white to be able to click start when you're and I also find that it helps me because if I'm timing myself, I'm not multitasking, I really am working on one thing, and as somebody who has a touch of add, really is valuable. So
Kate Kordsmeier 47:45
yeah, and I think there's another good point in there too, about time tracking, which is, sometimes it's easy to say, well, this assignment pays 50 cents a word and this assignment pays $2 a word and so the $2 word assignment is more lucrative. Not yeah is definitely not always the case. And so what I used to do a lot, too is track my time that way. And a lot of times I found Actually, my hourly rate was much higher with some lower paying clients. So there's more than, you know, one way to look at it and time tracking can be really helpful for that.
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 48:17
Yeah. Like really more about your bottom line, because to your point, like a lot of the ones that are paying a higher per word rate, you might go through, you know, seven rounds of edits, and then you're like, making minimum wage for this story.
Unknown Speaker 48:31
Kate Kordsmeier 48:32
Some of the easier things, it's been at some of the smaller local publications. It's like you turn it in, you're done like there is. hurt anything. Yeah, exactly. Send me the jet. Great. Okay, what's the most especially as an avid reader, what's the most powerful business or entrepreneurial book you've ever read?
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 48:49
Oh, man, that's such a good question. Um, okay. It's not an entrepreneurial book. It's a spiritual book that I'm reading right now. It's called the ruthless and eliminate of hurry. And it's really lame. Yeah, it's written by a minister he like is the Minister of a big church out in Portland, Oregon. And like hurry is such a it's so detrimental to our spiritual and mental health. And I feel like especially for me right now, you know, just kind of rushing from thing to thing. I think it really diminishes my creativity and my vision for how I want my business and my writing to look and so it's tough. I don't know that it's the most powerful one I've ever read. But it is top of mind because I'm flying through it right now. And yeah, and it's, it's been it's been really good and very eye opening, I think as well.
Kate Kordsmeier 49:44
Yeah, I love that because I think especially if you're in a creative industry, allowing yourself to have that white space and to slow down is so impactful for producing creative quality work, and when are constantly busy, busy, busy, so you don't have time to really think about all that kind of stuff. So I think that sounds like a great book and then put that on my list.
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 50:10
Let me know what you think.
Kate Kordsmeier 50:13
Okay, what is your favorite quote or mantra or affirmation? Do you have something that like you frequently tell yourself? I do. Actually, you mentioned one of them already, but maybe you have another one. That's,
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 50:24
Yeah, I do. I do love that. One of the when preparation meets opportunity, or whatever, um, gosh, I'm like such not a good quote, person. And I don't know, there's another one. It might also be like Ben Franklin, or like one of those, like, who knows. But the harder I work, the luckier I get. You know, just I think seeing seeing so many people. You know, kind of envying certain people's jobs are like kind of having the impression that things are easy. Like I always tell people, I'm like a deck, you know, Like on the surface, it's like everything is very smooth. And then underneath my little feet are flipping as fast as they can. But I also think it's really healthy, at least for me, it has been really healthy to be honest about the fact that it's not always easy. And it's not always like less. I have a really good community of fellow writers like yourself and some others who I know you also know, in and around Atlanta, and I have a writing partner in Los Angeles that we talk on a weekly basis to kind of encourage each other. And it's just really nice to like, let that facade down like, you don't have to be Instagram. You can be really honest about the things that are hard.
Kate Kordsmeier 51:39
Yeah, for sure. I think one of the best things I've found in the community over competition and really making friends with people in your industry has been that it's like, nobody really has their shit together. Like everybody struggles. Everybody's trying to figure it out. And even the people that love Like they're so successful and it's so effortless, you meet them in person, you really get talking, they open up and you're like, Oh, we struggle with the same stuff or even if it's not the same, it's just like, oh, you have it's hard for you to Yeah, you are back that curtain and I think it's really encouraging. Yeah, absolutely. Okay, last question. We'll let you go. What does Success with Soul the name of our podcast? What does it mean to you?
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 52:25
Well, that's such a good question. For me in my little corner of the world, it means having clients and work that means something to me getting to tell stories that are beautiful or edifying or encouraging, or previously untold and to, I guess that the intersection of being able to also support myself with a job that I truly, truly love. So yeah, I'm living that dream. I'm still figuring it out. to a large degree. I feel like every day is a learning process, but I really cannot be more grateful for the path that I have found myself on and continue to love.
Kate Kordsmeier 53:06
Yeah, I love that. It's beautiful. So where can people find you, Jennifer? Well, you can
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 53:11
certainly find me via my website Jennifer Bradley Franklin calm longest website ever. I'm more active on Instagram. I love me and Instagram story. So my handle is Jennifer B as in Bradley, Franklin. So Jennifer v Franklin on Instagram and you'll very rarely find me on Twitter so we don't even have
Kate Kordsmeier 53:32
to shout that one. Okay, cool. Well, we will drop those links in the show notes thank you so much for being here.
Jennifer Bradley Franklin 53:40
Thank you for having me. It was a joy. I really loved it.
Kate Kordsmeier 53:46
Thanks for listening to the Success
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