By Katherine Louie
Being a beauty editor is more than just testing out the latest and greatest in lipsticks and eyeliner (read this to debunk common myths about the beauty industry). Ed sat down with Rebecca Norris, junior beauty editor at L’Oreal Paris about changing career roles, the importance of gratitude, and what she thinks aspiring writers should know. Take note, whippersnappers!
Ed: How would you describe your role at L’Oreal?
Rebecca: First and foremost, although I am a Junior Beauty Editor for L’Oreal Paris, I am actually employed by Webedia. Webedia is a company that is contracted by L’Oreal to create branded content for L’Oreal Paris. As far as my role as an editor, I work alongside two other girls—another junior beauty editor and a senior editor—to create all the content for the L’Oreal Paris Beauty Magazine. Together, the three of us pitch, write, edit, code and build articles for the site. We base all articles on trending beauty content and whatever current products are debuting.
What is branded content?
Branded content is a type of advertising that is written in a native editorial manner to promote the brand that funds the production. In terms of L’Oreal Paris, this means that I only write about that brand’s products, but I do it in a fun, engaging voice that feels natural instead of like an in-your-face advertisement. This type of writing is typically received better than a straight advertisement because it seems like less of a sales pitch and more of a conversation with a trusted BFF.
What are the pros and cons of writing branded content?
Well, the best part about branded content is that you have your subject in front of you and it doesn’t require as much research. You know what products you can write about and you just have to find the angle. It goes both ways though. The hardest part about branded content is that you know what products you can write about and sometimes that means you have to think a little harder to find a new, exciting angle to frame them.
Before you were hired at L’Oreal you worked for Men’s Health. How did you go from working at a health/fitness magazine to a major beauty company?
Although I used to work on the ad sales side of Men’s Health, my passion has always been beauty. My internships in college (Northern Virginia magazine, Seventeen magazine and Victoria’s Secret Pink) all involved beauty. Those internships made me recognize my true calling in the industry. I have known since I was ten years old that I wanted to be a writer who works in magazines, but it wasn’t until those internships that I really honed in on beauty. And now that the editorial landscape is shifting, my goal of working solely in magazines has come to incorporate websites as well.
I think that once you find your calling, it’s best to make a plan and stick with it. That’s why I accepted my job at Men’s Health. While I knew that I would learn about the other side of magazines by being in the advertising sales department, I ultimately saw it as a calculated move to get me one step closer to my ultimate goal: beauty writing. As an assistant working around 50 hours a week, I took what I learned in the journalism school and networked like crazy, often working an additional 20 hours a week. Before I knew it, I had hundreds of beauty contacts and was writing for publications like Women’s Health, Men’s Health, SELF, Elite Daily and more. Eventually, I became the primary writer for All Things Hair, a branded content initiative for Unilever. That experience set me up to fill the role as the junior beauty editor for L’Oreal Paris.
Any advice for aspiring writers trying to get into the beauty space? Is there any secret to pitching beauty stories?
First, network and pitch like crazy without fear of rejection. If it weren’t for cold emailing, I wouldn’t have made the connections that I have or landed my current job. In order to become a writer, you have to prove you’re a writer. This means you need to establish your voice, be confident in it, and reach out to publications and brands with never-ending ideas on how to promote the latest and greatest in beauty (or whatever else you want to write about).
If you don’t know who to reach out to, scour the Ed2010 internship and job listings and look for the contact emails. Once you have the email, you can reach out and tell them that you have a great pitch. From there, include your pitches (which should always have a headline and description, as well as any contacts that you would use if it’s an interview piece) Then tell thank them for their time and include your contact information and press send.
Secondly, it’s important to stick with it. If you have a dream and you have a plan, anything is possible. In the process of chasing your dreams try to manage your expectations, but never settle just because it isn’t happening as quickly as you’d like. If it weren’t for my persistence I wouldn’t have landed my internships (let alone my current job) in the first place.
I recommend writing down every single internship and job you apply for so that you have a hard copy of what it takes to make your dream come true. In the end, you might have a long list, but you’ll also be reminded of just how resilient, capable and deserving you are. That’s what I did. I applied for 47 internships and jobs before I finally got my first full-time job in the magazine industry. It took two years and another 32 before making the move to full-time editorial.
Third, be willing to make sacrifices and compromises. When you have a goal, you have to be willing to do anything and everything to make it happen. This might mean you’ll have to sacrifice nights out for nights in to apply for jobs and pitch stories. You might experience massive amounts of FOMO. You might have to sacrifice sleep to meet a freelance deadline. You might have to compromise and agree to your next career move not because it’s everything you’ve ever wanted, but because it will bring you one step closer to your goal.
To sum it all up, I think it’s incredibly important to be grateful. Working in this industry isn’t always the most delicious cup of tea (there are stressful days and writer’s block), but in the end it really is rewarding. I believe that there are always flowers for those who want to see them; and if you have the opportunity to chase your dream, make sure to keep your eyes wide open, because there’s a great big sunflower around every corner.
Check out Rebecca on Instagram at @rebeccaravee
Katherine Louie is an aspiring writer currently working at Men’s Health. At Men’s Health, she assists the Publisher and V.P./Online Director as well as the Chief Advertising Officer for Rodale, Inc. She contributes articles to Ed2010, Viral Fashion, Men’s Health, and Women’s Health. Follow her on Instagram to stay updated on her latest work!