Writing can be a bit of a mobius twist. With good reason, people want to see your credentials and work before they take you on. In order to get those examples, someone has to take a chance and let you do a job without any of those examples. So if you don’t have them, how do you get them?
Reading (and common sense) in this area tells us that often we start too high up the food chain, and then we experience frustration when Time Magazine doesn’t want to use the brilliant article we put together.
This is Writing Tip #4: Don’t be afraid to start small.
I recently had something included in a neighborhood newsletter. It was just a small article, but it went out to the whole area where I live. It was a solid article with a good voice and positive spirit. Who knows what might happen because of it?
Two days ago, a piece I worked on earlier in the fall finally came out in the town newspaper. I’m not ultimately interested in journalism, but now I can use that as an example of my ability to write an informative, tight article. The paper has a circulation of 15,000 homes, plus online consumers. However, because the article was an interview, people from the interviewee’s (that seems like it should be a word?!) organization are also sure to read it, which extends the circle. That’s a good reach for me.
This summer, a blog asked for guest submissions and I volunteered. The blog isn’t about writing, nor is it a field of personal expertise, but by writing an entertaining blog post, I can point to it as an example of versatility and initiative.
None of the above have been paid opportunities.
As I build my portfolio, I view these as something current to add to the materials I have from a few years ago (before I started having kids and temporarily lost track of everything outside of who needs a snack and when did we last change the baby’s diaper?). The fact that they are unpaid is unimportant at this point. Would I like to eventually be paid for my work? Sure. But these pieces are mutually beneficial: the organization gets new content, and I get to fill my writing resume and make some contacts.
What I’m working on now is a system for keeping track of deadlines, what went where and when, deadlines for contests, and a sort of “closing date” for each individual piece. If you have a way of keeping your writing organized, I’d love to hear about it.
Keep working your writing and don’t worry about if it is for a national audience. Do your best work each time and you never know where it will eventually lead!