Why now?

Over the past decade or so, several individuals have asked me how I’m able to consistently sell articles to newspapers, magazines, websites and other clients. Some are simply curious, but others have expressed good-natured envy, saying what I do for a living seems much more interesting than what they do. (They might be right: freelance writing is often fascinating.)

Wutai Art Street

Sometimes I’ve refused to answer their questions. I’ve been too busy, and I’ve thought to myself: “Why should I share professional knowledge which has taken me years to accumulate, to a person who may use it to compete against me?”

When people have said they’re willing to pay me to mentor them while they launch their freelance-writing career, I’ve been tempted, but in the end have held back. I didn’t want to invest time in writing detailed advice about how to come up with fresh ideas for new articles, pitch those ideas to editors, and so on. Writing about sustainable architecture, or the efforts of aboriginal campaigners who are trying to revive a language no one has spoken for well over a century, just seemed much more my cup of tea.

Also, I’ve been reluctant to ask for the kind of money I believe my help is worth. These days, I seldom earn less than US$400 for an article. I reckon that if I spent two full days teaching someone how to do the same, I’d deserve a sum far closer to four figures than three.

What’s changed? An opportunity has come up to teach travel writing and freelance writing at a three-day workshop in Cambodia next year. I’ve begun preparing for that event, and I’m pretty confident about the outline I’ve written. I think I’ve covered all the important topics, and have chosen some good examples to instruct and inspire. But before Cambodia, I’d like to road-test and refine the material. That’s why I’m offering this workshop.

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