Earlier this week, I was interviewing Juniata alum, Niki DeSantis, for a Q&A in the Alumni magazine. My writing internship in the Juniata marketing office has allowed me to make great connections to several brilliant people in the Juniata community. I was interviewing her about her assistance on Alex Ovechkin’s Sports Illustrated photo shoot and we got side tracked talking about the challenges of working freelance.
She gave me tons of great free advice about my future in professional writing and how I should go about acquiring freelance writing jobs. She’s worked freelance for over 15 years and had so much wisdom to share. She said I should start asking around of writing opportunities no matter how small they are and to begin working on unpaid projects to get my name out there. She gave me advice about applying for internships and how to pitch myself and my writing to potential employers.
Niki to me I should start a blog and an online portfolio for applying to internships and jobs so I have something to show my potential employers. She works mostly in freelance design and she was telling be how she has binders and binders of print magazines and posters and other pieces she has designed, but no potential employer wants to look at a binder full of papers. They want everything to be online. Something they can easily scroll through on their laptop, smartphone or iPad, after dinner or during their lunch hour. Something quick and easy to navigate that has several examples of my writing in all forms.
Creating a blog seemed like the least daunting task so that’s what I started with. She said to start a blog and just write anything. Write book reviews, write about your day, about a concert you attended, about a funny thing you saw your dog do – just write anything. Create your social media presence.
I maintained a blog for a short time last year for my Writing Across Media class so I have some experience working with WordPress and managing posting and content, but posting about Bees (my blog was about bees) and posting about yourself are two completely different things. My blog about bees had guaranteed and easily accessible content. I had a fairly narrow area of interest presented on that blog so coming up with specific topics wasn’t difficult. Writing a blog specifically to showcase my brand, personality, and writing skills is a lot harder to choose a topic for.
I have to choose who I want to be and how I want to be seen for my future. I can always change it, but it is the internet – whatever I post is going to be there forever in one way or another. I’m still drafting my first post, but it’s going to be something brilliant.
My portfolio is still empty. That is going to be the big challenge for me. I have a few blogs from Juniata Enrollment and a PR piece or two from my marketing internship, but that’s it. I have pages and pages of creative writing, but choosing which to include, since none of it has ever been published, is nearly impossible. Until I start submitting my writing to different writing outlets, it’s not going to go anywhere.
Niki said I need to put myself out there with my writing and take chances. I think I already knew this in my head, but now it sounds more real and reasonable after hearing it from someone with experience. I don’t know how successful my blog will be, but by the time I’m finished at Juniata, my portfolio is going to be overflowing.
If you want to keep up with Julia’s writing adventures, follow her here: juliasworld6211899.wordpress.com