You never know where opportunities may come from in this creative stratosphere.
Earlier this year I had the opportunity to begin writing a few freelance pieces online for Essence.com. It was a completely unexpected opportunity that I was truly grateful for. I mean, my mom was so proud. Ha! Since then, I have been asked multiple times from other writers how they might be able to write for Essence. But my experience was different. An editor there reached out to me from the work that I was already doing on my blog. So, I’m never really sure how to instruct people to go about pitching. But one day recently, I purchased a copy of Essence magazine, (the one with Our Pres and First Lady) and imagine my surprise when I opened it up and one of the first things I saw was a list of all of the print and online editors!
See where I am going with this? It’s funny how people will take more time to reach out to a complete stranger than buying a copy of Essence where it tells you who the editors are in all the sections you may be interested in pitching to. I’ve also noticed that a lot of editors that work at our fave publications hang out on Twitter and often put out there the type of pitches that they are looking for. Crazy right?
And it’s not a stab at people that want information. If you have ever emailed me, you know that I am kind and quickly responsive. But I will say that I can easily see how info-preneurs have been able to capitalize off our laziness. They have done the work that most of us aren’t willing to do. Some courses, you could literally Google and get the same results. Now I am not saying that there aren’t some experts that are amazing at what they do. You know me, I am not the tear people down type. But imagine if I all of a sudden created a course on pitching to Essence when the information was right there for you the whole time? You see what I mean? Doing the work is part of the process that you simply can’t avoid no matter how much you pay for a course or session.
I have information products as well. But I really try to make them invaluable by being able to give you critical thinking as opposed to just regurgitating things that I Googled. But the point here is, don’t be afraid of the work. I know there are so many misconceptions about us being the microwave generation but it’s weird to see it in effect. If you’re not willing to buy a magazine or do a quick Linkedin search to find editors, how does someone know you are determined enough to produce excellent work?
There are a couple things to consider here. One, as a writer, make sure that you are doing some great writing on the platform you already own. I work like noone is watching, which I actually just read a blog post on, but you also never know who is watching. I would have never thought that an editor would reach out to me. But I was here, doing the work, spell-checking, coming up with what I thought were compelling topics. That’s the work. I remember early interviews with Tyler Perry where they talked about him snagging his first film deal. He had already done the work, so he didn’t have to knock on doors begging for a deal. They came to him. And I always wanted to be able to know what that experience was like. I continue to work so that I might have some type of bargaining power in the opportunities that are presented to me. Things like freelance work and self-publishing my own books are stepping stones to other opportunities I hope to be able to receive.
Two, I am not saying it’s not okay to ask people for information. I am a firm believer that we should help one another instead of having everyone start from the bottom. But just think to yourself, before I ask someone else, is there a way I can find this information on my own? I have also emailed people to ask them things. But it was after I exhausted my own options and still couldn’t find the answer. And they either got back to me or ignored me. LOL. I also try to ask people things that I have built some type of rapport with. Even if it’s just that we have tweeted each other or something, I think they would recognize who I was asking them a random question.
I remember formatting my first book. I wanted to hire someone to do it but the budget just would not allow it. I spent hours on Createspace forums and googling and searching to make sure that my book was formatted professionally. That’s the work ethic that I had. And you know what I did with the info I learned about self-publishing? Created a guide. LOL. Because I know that a lot of other people wouldn’t be willing to take the time.
You are not all of a sudden going to be able to manufacture work ethic because you are given an opportunity. It is something that has to already be there. It’s what gets you there. So at the end of the day, no don’t be afraid to ask. But don’t be afraid to work either. The work is never sexy. Ha! But the habits that we develop in the early stages of our career are essential to where we see ourselves going.
Click to Tweet /// You are not all of a sudden going to be able to manufacture worth ethic because you are given an opportunity.
Sometimes the answers that we are looking for from others are literally right in front of our faces disguised as work.