You could literally spend days researching yourself silly before you finally click “send” on your LOI or query. Or you could try this shortcut:
Email other writers who already have a relationship with the editor you want to write for.
This approach works for a few reasons. First, that writer has probably been where you are. They get how hard it is to break into a new market. Two: they may have inside info you don’t that will help you tailor your pitch. Finally, it’s always nice to email a query with a name your prospective editor will (or feels she should) recognize.
So far I’ve gotten nothing but positive responses. One writer wrote back with the email for her editor. Another let me know her website wasn’t currently hiring freelance bloggers (information that wasn’t on said website) but asked me to forward a résumé and clips instead for a internally posted gig.
The first connection landed me an assignment with a top inflight publisher.
And I think this will work in the future for other travel-oriented publications, markets where my story idea—most likely my experience of a particular destination—doesn’t present much competition for the writer I’m connecting with.