I didn’t attend Columbia, but when I stepped out of the cab and onto the campus, a wave of nostalgia washed over me. Nothing compares to the energy of a buzzing college campus.
I walked into the Tow Center for Digital Journalism and took a seat next to my friend Alyssa. My youthful feelings faded as I quickly realized we were two of the only non-students at the lecture. At the front of the room sat a long, lanky lady with fitted jeans, a black tee, brown lace-up ankle boots, hair in an effortlessly coiffed topknot, and bright red lips: Ann Friedman.
You may think you don’t know Ann Friedman, when in fact, you probably know Ann Friedman. She writes regularly for New York magazine and the Columbia Journalism Review in addition to contributing to publications like The New Yorker, Elle, Newsweek, The New York Times, The Guardian, and countless others. Still not sure if you’re familiar with Ann Friedman’s work? Then maybe you know her by her famous pie charts regularly featured on The Hairpin.
Ann Friedman is a full-time freelance writer. No, she’s not secretly unemployed. No, she does not live a life of non-office-regulated luxury. No, she’s not flaky or a weird loner or any of the other all too common freelance stereotypes. If you’re wondering exactly what a freelance writer is, look to Ann Friedman. She’s a pretty successful one.
Without further ado, here are three takeaways from Ann’s lecture on Pitching for the Digital Space:
- Kissing Sideways: Don’t kiss up. You should always be kissing down and sideways, to the people who are going to be working alongside you and coming up behind you. Create a strong support group of colleagues rather than seeking out one powerful person to shape your career.
- Writing Something You’re Excited About: It’s a privilege to write something you’re excited about. It took Ann ten years to reach this point in her career. Working with difficult clients, being published in less-prominent publications, writing on subject matter that is of little or no interest to you, getting paid abysmally or *gasp* not at all are all part of the process. Do something on the side (might I suggest a blog?) that represents the work you want to do.
- Breaking the Story: In today’s digital writing world, it’s no longer about breaking the story and being the first person to write on a particular subject matter. It’s about writing on a topic in a new way, with a distinct voice, or for a particular audience that makes a great story.
The backbone of each of these three takeaways is that freelance writing is a marathon, not a sprint. The right person, a particular publication, or a single story will not “make you.” Relentless perseverance, unfading passion, and above all, time are the keys to a successful freelance writing career and ultimately making a name for yourself as a writer.
Atlanta Apparel Show (click)
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An Inside Look at Blogging with Jessica Camerata of My Style Vita, 11:30am, Floor 13, NW Quadrant, Veteran Atlanta-based blogger Jessica Camerata of My Style Vita gives an inside look into blogging and how it can benefit your business.
“MSV got started when I wanted to pursue a new career in writing and fashion. My previous job in a very conservative corporate America atmosphere had me itching for something that I was passionate about…”
I was sold. I’d considered starting my own blog for a long time and for the same reasons as Jessica. I attended her seminar, exchanged contact info, and met her for coffee a few months later.
“You have to sit down and just do it,” she said.
Jessica’s words were just the push I needed. I’m a creative soul, but I’m also a compulsive planner and perfectionist, the latter being why I’d put off starting a blog for so long. What I’d mulled over for years went into a short month of preparation. Using a branding questionnaire from Angie, a friend/graphic designer, and a focus group of my nearest and dearest, I decided on the name ARTicles of Clothing Blog and compiled a loose vision for from pages of notebooks, scribbles in margins, feedback from the focus group, and my own mind.
Without “sitting down and just doing it,” I may have never started a blog. However, after blogging for over a year, AOC Blog never evolved into what I hoped it would be. It became an eclectic mix of those initial intentions and whatever struck my fancy with a heavy influence from the blogging community and what my blog stats told me worked best. AOC Blog had become a mere fraction of me, half me and half something else. If I wanted to keep my passion for blogging, I had to get AOC Blog back on track, my track.
I needed to take a step back, quiet the extraneous outside influences, be true to myself, and cultivate my own method. For guidance, I looked to a book that had been on my shelf for years: Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit, A Practical Guide. First and foremost, this book helped me acknowledge and accept my identity: a creative. Under that creative umbrella, every aspect of my life falls into its own creative space: my compulsion to write, my fascination with fashion, my passion for dance, my love of cooking, my collection of journals, books, and magazines, and my blog. Next, I had to learn that being a creative is a way of life. It’s not just writing, fashion, dance, cooking, journaling, blogging, it’s everything from what you do while you drink your morning coffee to what you do before hitting the pillow at night. By approaching everything – no matter how mundane or exciting – with a creative mindset, I slowly began to tap back into my creative voice and my creative process. I began to establish my own creative habit.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe you also started a blog for a similar reason – an interest in writing or fashion, to do something passionately, for a creative outlet, to express yourself. Maybe the typical editorial calendars, blog stats, outfit-of-the-day-posts, and affiliate links just aren’t working for you. Over the past month, I’ve developed a new approach to blogging, and in the coming months, I’ll share the steps I took to create my method. While, I urge you to carve your own way and form your own creative habit, maybe you can learn something from my process.
More and more I’ve found myself deeply valuing my time spent exploring and gaining inspiration outside the Internet. This is not what a blogger, social media manager, web writer should say. Call me an old soul, but I remember the not-so-distant past when my creativity was constantly fueled by the world around me, not images on Instagram or quotes on Pinterest. I think I’m part of a confusing (or rather confused) generation who is both excited to be on the cutting edge of a grand new era of technology and who has a fond memory of a youth without said technology – a generation that continually grapples with their physical persona (outside the Internet) and their digital persona (on the Internet). I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I feel both blessed and cursed to know both sides.
Some people manage to be, say, 80% detached from the digital world. Sure these people probably have an email address and a cell phone, maybe a Facebook or LinkedIn account, but not much more. The rest of us call these people “disconnected.” I’ve made the accusation myself, namely because my boyfriend (oddly enough a web developer) is one of these people. And to him (and others with raw digital personas) I’ve defended blogs and social media hundreds of times, touting their widespread popularity (audience) and overall value (free to those who participate, lucrative to those who create) – they’re an integral part of our society, numerous industries, my life! I can confidently say I’m thankful for my experience in the blogosphere and on social media, but what happened to the experiences outside the Internet? The Instagram-able, Pin-able, hashtag-able experiences that supposedly make up this media? I can’t escape the technology completely – in fact it has quickly evolved into a very inescapable part of most of our lives – but I can slow down, take a step back, and remember there is still a beautiful world out there – it doesn’t just exist in images on the Internet.
Regardless of your level of engagement in the digital world, the Internet has a powerful influence on our lives. Time and time again, I’ve been influenced by other bloggers, digital media, friends and followers on social networks – so much so that every now and then, I lose track of where my digital persona ends and others’ begin. Sometimes you have to take a step back in order to move forward. So this February, instead of the digital world telling me “blog me,” “Instagram me,” “share me,” I’m calling the shots. I’m reconnecting with my unique digital persona. My blog and social media have been quiet for the past few weeks and will continue to be in the month of February as I pursue this introspective exploration of my digital self. Stay tuned, readers… MORE SOON.
Photography by Angie Webb Creative
Happy New Year! As if you needed another reason to be pumped this January, I’ve got 5 of them: 5 things to look forward to in 2015! Cheers!
1. Erica Bryan’s NEW Video + First Show of the Year
Yesterday my girl Erica Bryan released a brand NEW music video, a cover of Bad Suns’ Cardiac Arrest like you’ve never heard it before. Start the New Year with NEW music! Watch the latest video from Erica Bryan on her YouTube channel now! AND catch Erica in Atlanta later this month for her first show of 2015. She’ll be opening for Old Dominion at Smith’s Olde Bar on January 21, plus she’s got something special in store for the first ten to arrive – FREE beer anyone?
2. Laurel Hill Hair Accessories
I’m absolutely obsessed with the jewelry of Athens-born, California-based designer Laurel Hill. I cannot wait til she releases her 2015 collection, which includes a NEW line of hair accessories! Stay tuned to her website and Facebook page this month for more details!
3. GIRLS, HBO
It goes without saying I marked my calendar months ago when they set the official premiere date of HBO’s GIRLS Season 4. I cannot wait to see what my fellow writer Lena Dunham has worked up for this season’s script!
4. Blog Conferences
This one is for all my bloggers out there. Fellow blogger Hillary Dixon of Style in a Small Town was awesome enough to share this comprehensive blog conference directory for 2015. I’m paying it forward and passing it along to all of you! No matter where you live… whether you’re a veteran blogger or just entertaining the idea of starting a blog in the New Year… this list is worth checking out!
5. NYFW F/W 2015
Last but certainly not least, NYFW F/W 2015. I’m always in eager anticipation of fashion week and the amazing energy it brings to the fashion community. However, this year I can’t even put into words how ecstatic I am to have the thrill of experiencing fashion week while living in New York City. I have no idea what type of opportunities I may or may not have to get involved come February, but the simple notion of being in the city and buzzing off the NYFW energy will be enough for me!
Reflecting on the past can be an important part of moving forward. I often choose to end each year looking back at what has transpired and what I’ve accomplished. When a portion of your life is documented online – through social media or a blog – it’s easy to travel back in time through the past 365 days. Sometimes this is a blessing and a curse. There’s a point at which spending too much time on the past can hinder our journey into the future. There’s such a fine line between constructive and detrimental reflection on the past.
For me, the past year – my first year of freelancing and blogging full-time – has been a lot of learning what not to do. I’ve made a number of poor decisions as I’ve taken total and complete control of carving and shaping my career. While I know it’s all part of the learning process, it’s easy to fall into the trap of looking back with a negative mindset – the could-have, would-have, should-have mindset. Of course there are many, many things I could have, would have, should have done differently. The key to reflecting on these moments in a productive way is to acknowledge and examine what can be learned from them as I head into a new year and fresh start.
Whether it be self-imposed or a force from the universe, there’s a lot of pressure on year two of freelancing and blogging from New York City. So, I’m spending the last day of 2014 focusing on my energy – mental, physical, emotional energy – and reflecting on 2014. As cheesy as it sounds, I have this intuition that this is my year. It’s scary to proclaim in writing on such a public forum, but perhaps this is my first step in telling the universe I’m ready!
W I N T E R
S P R I N G
S U M M E R
7. Blogger Bazaar Milwaukee
8. Midwest Style Blogger Happy Hour
10. My Best Friend’s Wedding
13. Just Knotted ARTicles of Clothing Blog Bands
F A L L
24. Birthday in NYC with blogger GaBrielle Pedriani of Look Sharp, Sconnie