Masters Student Catherine Mccabe Tells Us About Her New Freelance Career
Catherine McCabe had a lucrative career in the filmmaking business before taking our copywriting course and becoming a successful freelance travel writer. Just last week, we interviewed Catherine to find out why she gives AWAI so much credit for opening up this new career for her.
TGT: Before we ask how and why, let's start by asking exactly what it is that you do as a freelance travel writer.
CM: Although I do other things, most of my work right now is for two travel newsletters. I write full issues of Island Properties Report (IPR), as well as short and long articles for International Living (IL).
TGT: Do they tell you what they want you to write?
CM: No, they don't. I find something that interests me and set up my contacts with tourism boards, hotels, realtors, etc. as a promotional writer. Then I pitch it to IL and IPR. If they like it, I make the trip.
I do a lot of traveling. And, in fact, I recently visited five islands (Anguilla, Montserrat, Antigua, St. Kitts, and Nevis) in 10 days. That trip helped to fill out my research for four issues of IPR that I'm working on now.
TGT: Though specifically created to teach copywriting skills, we do say that AWAI's copywriting course will help with any kind of writing. That's especially true in your case, isn't it? The writing you do now is more editorial than marketing. Yes?
CM: Yes and no. What I do really is a form of marketing. All the fundamental skills that I'm using now, I learned in the course.
I'm not selling a product, but I am selling an idea, a way of life – on a lot of different levels. I'm selling an alternative to where my reader might be now. My audience is retirees, investors, and people who want something more out of life.
TGT: What did you do before this?
CM: I was in the film business for close to 30 years – a member of the Directors Guild of America – making mini-series, movies of the week, etc.
TGT: What motivated you to make the change?
CM: The film business is very high pressure – 16-hour days, periodic negative feedback, the occasional rejection. It got to the point where the negatives outweighed the positives of the good money. So I started looking for something else to do.
TGT: How did you get started on your new career?
CM: When I got the mailing from AWAI, I thought, "This is creative too. In the film business, I did a lot of traveling and loved it. Maybe I can combine writing and travel."
I did it –and now I'm much, much happier.
TGT: How did the AWAI copywriting course help you?
CM: To do what I do – to put it all together – you have to write persuasive pitch letters to tourism boards, hotels, realtors, etc. You need to get their cooperation. This is much like the research you would do to sell a product.
One of the most valuable things the course taught me is to let go of the formal patterns of grammar and sentence structure that I learned in school – to allow myself to write the way I speak. It also taught me how to describe a picture with words. (Very important in travel writing.)
I'm still working on the Masters Program and learning even more.
TGT: You went to two of our bootcamps. How did they help you?
CM: When you work on the course at home, you bring only your personal interpretation to the material. I realized the feedback from professionals, as well as other students, would enhance my learning experience. So I signed up for a bootcamp. And the course took on far greater dimensions for me. So much so, in fact, that I signed up for a second one.
The bootcamp provides a great deal of information, especially through exposure to different kinds of writers and their approaches to various media. It's like a huge buffet. A wonderful plethora of choices. You get to pick and choose the teachings most useful to you.
TGT: What's the best part of your new career?
CM: I don't know exactly where I'm going with it yet, but the process is very exciting – and the potential is terrific. I can write for anyone about anything. There are absolutely no boundaries!
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