Can outdoor writing really encourage more people to get outside?

As well as being a top Devon copywriter and one half of the outdoor duo Two Blondes Walking, I am an Ordnance Survey Get Outside Champion. I have been in this role for four years now and absolutely love it. It’s easy really when you love something and know that it does you good, to want to tell everybody else about that thing. For me ‘that thing’ is the outdoors and my favourite type of freelance writing is outdoor writing that has been specifically designed to encourage people to have a go at being outdoors themselves.

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A freelance conundrum… What does a girl wear to an indoor outdoor conference?

One of the wonderful things about freelance working from home is that you get to choose exactly what you want to wear to the office. No other people means no pressures, no strange looks and no turning up in the same dress as your colleagues. In my case my freelance wardrobe is usually a combination of vests, hats, woolly socks, fingerless gloves and outdoor clothing donned in layers to combat the chill that arrives around three hours after a sea swim. Not my best look ever but then a girl has to keep warm.

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When your work makes you proud – Ordnance Survey’s new Walk London map

I freely admit that my freelance business makes me feel good about myself. Started three years ago at a time when my former career had taken a dive, Fi Darby Freelance has gone from strength to strength. From technical writing to my first love outdoor writing I enjoy the challenge, the planning and, most of all, the creativity.

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National Get Outside Day writing tips – how to enjoy the outdoors and improve your writing

Tomorrow is National Get Outside Day, which means that I won’t be sitting at my desk or even typing, digital nomad style, in my camper van. Tomorrow I will be out and about with Two Blondes Walking, enjoying the outdoors and getting a bit of inspiration for my outdoor writing. Most of us have experienced the clearer-head feeling that goes with being outside but the great outdoors can go even further than that to encourage, energise and enhance our writing. We have three tips about how to get outside and improve your outdoor writing:

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How to become a freelance outdoor writer

Freelance outdoor writing offers plenty of reward for those who love the outdoor lifestyle. Paid opportunities to travel, explore and spend time outside are wonderful when they come along but, compared to other areas of freelance writing, this is a competitive industry.

Campaigns such as Sport England’s This Girl Can and Ordnance Survey’s Get Outside are starting to work and the numbers of people spending time in the natural environment are increasing. This has led to an growth in requirements for outdoor writing but breaking into the industry still takes time and persistence. We have five top tips on how to become a freelance outdoor writer.

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How digital technology can encourage us to Get Outside

Like many people I have multiple interests and passions. As well as being a keen freelance copywriter and outdoor blog writer, I love the outdoors, am a Get Outside Champion for mapping giants Ordnance Survey and work as an influencer for multiple outdoor equipment suppliers. You would be right in thinking that the contrast between days spent typing at my desk and days spent training people in expedition skills on Dartmoor is huge. Those who love the outdoors are perhaps supposed to spurn digital technology, see the screen as the enemy and frown every time they pass someone using a mobile device. Sport England disagree with this and are calling for the sport and physical activity sectors to embrace technology.

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Devon attractions or Devon distractions? Freelance writers be warned

When spring hits and the sunshine comes out, Devon can be a pretty (actually pretty) good place to be living and working. With beaches, moors and a whole load of other outdoor places to explore, a freelance writer in Devon could feel spoilt for opportunities to get outside and find out more about her lovely home. Which, of course, is exactly what I spend a lot of my time doing. Unfortunately some of this is time that I should be spending at my desk writing and paying the mortgage. Here are a few of my thoughts on how to deal with distractions when you are working from home. Continue reading “Devon attractions or Devon distractions? Freelance writers be warned”

The day I taught Brexit to read a map… or did I?

My name’s Fi Darby and, when I am not busy freelance writing, I teach people to read maps. I don’t often get lost but have recently found myself wishing the irritating news elf Brexit would take himself off up into the hills and do just that. I have, however, so far resisted suggesting this as a possible solution to our current troubles because the hills are just about the only place left where it’s possible to hide from the latest ‘B’ news. It was an interesting thought however, to consider what would happen if, when out walking, I discovered Brexit, lost and confused at a summit (I have a feeling I wouldn’t be the first person to whom this has happened).

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From moor to sea – the life of an outdoor writer in Devon

Devon is definitely a beautiful place to visit but for me, it is also the perfect place to base myself for my outdoor writing. I discovered a long time ago that, in order to write about being outside (and keep a successful outdoor blog going) I needed to spend as much time under the sky as possible. My writing, even when it isn’t about the outdoors, is stimulated by my time outdoors. Whether I am writing a children’s book or investigating the latest thing in business apps for a client, the outdoors is as necessary to me as coffee, frilly knickers and soap operas are to other people (not that I have any objections to coffee!) Here’s how I make getting outside and copywriting in Devon work together.

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Top Tips for Would be Travel Writers

The great news for travel writers or those who would like to get into freelance travel writing is that, with the increasing importance of inbound marketing, there are more opportunities to write about travel than ever before. The bad news, if you want to be a travel writer, is that the growing popularity of travel (according to ABTA, 31% of people plan to spend more on their holidays over the next 12 months)  and the well-published attractions of the digital nomad lifestyle (in 2016 the UK boasted 311,000 freelance workers in ‘Artistic, literary and media’ occupations)  both mean that there are also more people out there trying to make a living out of travel writing. Here at Fi Darby Freelance we regularly put our talents to writing about just about everything, but our real passions are travel and the outdoors. We have five top tips about how to get into travel writing.

Start doing some travel writing

With so many travel writers out there, clients are looking for authors with experience, who can show a flair for the task. If you want to be a travel writer, the chances are that you like travelling, so get out there, explore and make sure that you write about your experiences. A great way to start is a travel blog, which will give you excellent opportunities to build an audience. Remember, travel isn’t all about luxury overseas hotels, a wild camping trip can give just as much writing inspiration as a stay in a luxury hotel.

Find your travel writer’s voice

One of the great things about travel is that we all experience it differently. Quality travel writing is about telling the travel story with a unique voice that will draw people in and make them want to read more. Letting your sense of humour or your wonderment at your surroundings show is important. Lots of people choose travel destinations because they have talked to someone else who has visited previously. A good piece of travel writing will achieve the same effect.

The client is always right

Using your own voice for a piece of travel writing does not mean that you should ignore your clients’ expectations. Most travel organisations will have a format that works for them and their target audience. Finding the balance between pleasing a client and letting your personality shine through takes practice but, in  your quest to be a travel writer, you will be getting plenty of that.

Do your travel writing research

It is easy to work out what to write about if a client has made a particular request. However, when you are first starting out with travel writing, you will be deciding on articles yourself and pitching these to editors. You will need to come up with ideas that stand out from the crowd, appeal to a specific audience and, ultimately, sell either holidays or publications. Your research should include,

  • Forthcoming travel trends (refer to these in your pitch)
  • The topics of previous articles
  • The style of previous articles
  • Your own budget and travel costs

Don’t take rejection personally

This takes us back to our original point; there are lots of people out there trying to make money from being a travel writer. This means that editors have plenty of options to choose from and will definitely not choose your work every time. Your pitch (an initial idea for a piece of writing) or your article may be rejected for any number of reasons, including market trends (the travel market can be fickle), previous publications (always do your homework) or a clash of styles (think about a publication’s target audience). It would be great if editors had time to give individual feedback but they don’t so be prepared to move on, make changes or make your pitch to someone else.