By Jamé Jackson
We’ve all been there before: looking at a job that seems perfect for us, only to find out that it’s calling for a million years of experience and two million years worth of bylines. So…what do you do?
Freelance (For Free)
We know. But when you’re starting out (and ONLY when you’re starting out), the best way to get clips is by writing for outlets that can’t afford to pay—in dollar bills, at least. Often, websites in need of content will trade free writing for exposure (think a bio with links back to your site and social media, which helps get your name out and boost your blog’s SEO) or other perks like fashion and beauty merch, free movie tickets or whatever else you can bargain for. Unpaid writing not only gives you the byline you need, but also helps establish meaningful relationships with editors who can quickly jump from lowly blogger to major influencer (the internet is cray these days!). Try cold-emailing some local indie websites that will definitely be thankful for the help. Plus, it’ll help you develop your niche and interests along the way. Psst: Ed is always looking for guest bloggers.
Save the Clips You Have
Web articles have a magical way of disappearing right when you need them. And sometimes it can seem so overwhelming to save every little thing you’ve ever written, but trust us, being proactive now will save you thousands of headaches later. Screenshot everything, save it in the cloud (we’re big fans of Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive), and don’t forget to create an organized filing system, like putting all your fashion clips in one folder, for example.
Start a Blog
One summer, I started my own website and it’s now become a place for young millennials of color to feel welcomed and celebrated. If you really have minimal work experience, your website can be used as your clips. Some editors even prefer that because they get to know your real, unfiltered, unedited voice. And if you can post consistently on your site, it’ll show prospective employers that you’re reliable and have discipline. Plus, the type of content you write about is completely up to you, giving you total editorial freedom! And you never know when starting a website just to record your thoughts will pan out into something much bigger. You may just become your own Editor-in-Chief!
Save Your College Papers
Okay, we admit, this isn’t the most conventional tip. But there may be times when companies want to know that you can articulate a thought and even write long-form. Saving your college papers on a variety of topics can serve as a writing sample when you apply. One time, I was applying for a position at Condé Nast and sent in a 15-page essay on Modernism and Gertrude Stein. Is that really the thing you’d think of when it comes to a world-publishing company? Not necessarily. But does it make you stand out? Definitely.
Social Media Counts, Y’all
Do not forget that companies WILL look at your social media accounts. Why not take that opportunity and create engaging, thought-provoking content on the platforms that you do use? If you can properly convey a message and knock it out the park within 140 characters, that says a lot about you if you’re looking to be an editor. Long-form posts on Facebook or even Instagram can show how you package content and articulate your thoughts. Screenshot any content that goes viral or takes more space and save it into a portfolio to bring to a company later.
Jamé Jackson is a freelance writer in New York City. She loves all things fashion, beauty, and #GirlBoss related. She can be seen spreading her magic on Instagram @Theblondemisfit and her website, Theblondemisfit.com.