The editor of an online magazine requested me to write an article about a nearby county fair. The payment was low, but I decided to write the article anyway because spending time at the fair on warm, sunny day would be enjoyable, and writing the article, my first one for this magazine, might lead to better opportunities. Both of my expectations were correct.
One of the attractions that first caught my eye was a small booth with an informational exhibit and wine-tasting session that a local winery was holding. While slowly tasting two different wines, I chatted with the winery’s manager and took a few photographs of him serving wine. Then I wandered about the fair to gather more information and absorb its atmosphere.
After a relaxing afternoon, I decided that my article would focus on the diverse variety of activities that would please everyone from toddlers to senior citizens. Tasting wine is a highlight for many adults, including myself, so I included a short paragraph about the winery’s participation at the fair. The flavor of the wine impressed me, so I praised it.
The following month I saw the finished article for the first time and discovered that the magazine editor had chosen to include a photograph I had taken of the winery manager, standing with a wide smile in front of his booth. I printed the article and put it in an attractive folder with the intention of showing the article to the manager the next time I was in the vicinity of his winery.
Finally, this month I had some free time and dropped by the winery. Without an invitation, I just walked into the front office and asked the receptionist if I could speak to the manager. He walked into the office, and his facial expression revealed that he did not remember me, but after I showed him his photograph in the article, he became very friendly, inviting me into his office and giving me a bottle of wine. His secretary brought us tea, and we chatted some more about wine and writing. He suddenly produced another bottle of another variety of wine, which had just won a national award, and he insisted that I also take it home.
I thanked him and expressed my excitement about the topic of wine and my eagerness to learn more. I also casually mentioned that I am always looking for writing opportunities. His called his secretary and told her to bring us some of the winery’s pamphlets. We looked over those pamphlets together and continued talking. After a few more minutes, he asked me to help him with new pamphlets for his winery. When I finally left his office, I had developed a new friendly business relationship and gained three bottles of wine to take home.
The lesson that I learned from this experience is to keep in contact with people I meet while researching articles, show those people the articles, express an interest in their lives, and mention that I am looking for new writing opportunities.
Greg Goodmacher is a freelance writer of travel and culture-related articles, and he also writes textbooks for ESL/EFL textbooks.
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