Writing is in my blood but never something I saw myself doing professionally until I stumbled across an ad for The Ultimate Travel Journalism Course in the back of one of my favorite magazines. That was it, my interest was well and truly piqued!
My dad is a writer and my whole adult life people have been saying I should use my skills and make a career out of it. I became a mother at 17 and my priorities were to support my family and raise my kids. Now that my kids are older, I am really enjoying combining two things I love – writing and travel and experiencing a bit of independence as an individual, not just a mum!
I found the course to be very relevant and certainly learnt a lot about the industry which has been very helpful when pitching to PR companies and editors. There were times when I found it hard to focus and give priority to my studies but I learnt a lot about myself and got a lot of good support from my course mentor and tutor. I felt like he pushed me and made me more determined to get through the course and to hand in quality work.
Since finishing the course, life has become even busier, but I must say, I like it that way! I am still running my own beauty salon, which I have been doing for 15 years now but as writing has become a much bigger part of my life I have been forced to cut back my hours. Eventually I will move out of that side of things completely as my priorities are definitely shifting. I have also been lucky enough to secure a regular spot writing for Island Life magazine and I am a regular contributor to the Vanuatu Tourism Office newsletter and blog.
I was due to do a familiarisation trip for Outrigger Fiji earlier this year. However, as we were literally boarding the plane, our flight was cancelled due to a cyclone hitting Fiji and the trip had to be postponed. The PR company was completely understanding and were happy for me to pick up where I left off with my work for Outrigger later in the year. Luckily the time off work was not a total waste as my family and I ended up travelling to the Solomon Islands instead. I was able to get some good angles for potential stories and have several small magazines throughout the Pacific interested in publishing these.
I later set off on my first solo writing adventure for a whole week to Vanuatu. I was able to land a gig through a PR company called AC Verve, which represent one of the resorts I pitched to in Fiji. Although they weren’t able to offer me anything at the time, they kept me on their list and sent me a press release about the re-launch of the Holiday Inn, Port Vila which closed due to the extensive damage inflicted by the cyclone.
I emailed AC Verve to see if they would like my help to get the word out through a specialised blog piece, daily social media posts and an article written for Island Life and they agreed to host me for 2 nights. I then approached several other resorts and lodgings and managed to land two nights at Aquana Beach resort and 3 nights at Tanna Lodge.
During my time on Tanna, I climbed Mount Yasur and spent some time interviewing the people of the Yakel tribe about how life has been for them after the worldwide release of ‘Tanna’ the movie. There were plenty of times that I had to pinch myself, as I couldn’t believe that I was part of these ‘once in a lifetime’ moments.
There is no way I would have had the confidence to approach these types of companies unless I felt well equipped and ready to compete with the big guns. The course has given me that confidence but also taught me the winning formula that is needed to get a foot in the door in this hard to crack industry. There were plenty of times I wanted to give up and it was often hard to take the constructive criticism from my tutor but I am proud of myself for getting through my studies and completing my first diploma course in 18 years. Not only that but I have found a whole new me…
To read some of Danielle’s work, see: www.islandlifemag.com
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