I signed up for The Professional Freelance Journalism Course because I loved to write and travel but had no idea what editors were looking for, how to approach them or how to craft successful pitches.
From day one, my tutor provided really helpful feedback and advice. Working through each assignment forced me to think seriously about how to brainstorm story ideas and how to come up with several different articles from a single trip or destination. I also loved that the course could be completed remotely.
After quitting my job as a corporate lawyer, I spent a year travelling around Asia so I submitted my writing assignments from ramen bars in Tokyo, coffee houses in Beijing and beaches in Thailand.
Following the course, I had the confidence to email editors of airline magazines and didn’t let silence or rejection deter me – I knew if I kept plugging away at it I would eventually send someone the right idea at the right time and things would start happening. I published a couple of articles with smaller publications that didn’t pay and entered travel writing contests in order to create a small clippings file to show to editors.
I also briefly interned at a magazine publishing company in Singapore, which was useful in terms of learning what editors are looking for and seeing how the process works.
Since completing the course, I have published almost 100 features on a wide range of destinations (mostly in Asia and Europe) and topics (food, arts and culture, adventure, nightlife) and have worked on a handful of travel guides including AFAR and the Luxe Guides.
Airline magazines have been my best customers as they tend to publish once a month and need lots of content, including longer-form features, shorter up-front pieces and destination guides. No matter how many times it happens, it is still a great thrill to see a new feature come out on the first of the month under my byline.
Some of my favourite features have been personal accounts that have allowed me to re-explore destinations in Asia that I visited with my family as a child. I grew up overseas and my dad was always taking us to interesting places like Bangkok, Thailand, and Yokohama, Japan.
I also love writing about the arts. My first cover feature took me behind the scenes at a ballet performance of the Ramayana, an ancient Hindu epic poem, in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. I have also interviewed gallery directors in Singapore, visited artist residency programmes in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and watched surfboard shapers at work in Byron Bay, Australia.
Six months ago I relocated from Singapore back to London so my recent features have explored the city’s boutique gin distilleries, the outdoor summer cinema craze and the revitalisation of King’s Cross.
Travel writing has mainly been a side passion project for me and not the primary source of my income. Nevertheless, it has brought me so much joy and a wealth of travel experiences and encounters with interesting characters that I would have never had otherwise. I’m so glad I signed up for this course.