Hustle, Loyalty & Respect: Where I’m Taking My Career in 2015.

hustle business

When I told a friend I’d given myself two years from the beginning of 2011 to break into the freelance market, he wondered what that meant for me as a writer if I didn’t meet that deadline. (I had my first paid, freelance piece published on TheVine in mid-2012, just under the wire.) “Would I just give up” if I wasn’t published by that arbitrary date?

I’m not a quitter and I have been known to stick things out well past their used by date due to loyalty and the notion that they might get better. My freelance career has left much to be desired since that first piece, and I still haven’t given up on it, so no, I don’t think I would have chucked it in. Luckily, I don’t have to worry about that.

As I wrote earlier this week,

“This year has been one of professional development. I’ve completed two unpaid internships at Meanjin and The Lifted Brow, I’m working for Outback Championship Wrestling as their TV show’s host (which I have no idea how to do!) and I’ve spent my fair share of dosh on both in-person and online workshops…”

But I feel like I’m as professionally developed as I can get. While I’m glad I attended those workshops, on the whole, I didn’t get a lot out of them. All the suggestions and guidelines provided to further my career I’m already doing. No one can accuse me of not working hard or hustling to get my shit seen by the right people.

I guess, at this point, it comes down to luck and my writing being in the right inbox at the time they have some gaps in their editorial calendar. I think I may also need to branch out and find some other “right people”. But it can be quite disillusioning when you feel that you have a readable idea or a damn near perfect piece for the platform you’re pitching but they don’t want it. I don’t want to just post a piece I’ve spent weeks or months working on on my blog (not the best attitude for someone who just spent $800 on the Blogcademy workshop to have!).

Maybe I need to change my attitude and a) not spend so much time and energy on pieces that aren’t sure things, b) not be so attached to said pieces and be willing to put them out into the world in whatever capacity just so they’re c) able to be read by people regardless of whether I’m getting paid for them. Because they are pieces that I would love to read if I wasn’t the one writing them.

Whatever the case, my “New Years resolution” of sorts (which I don’t really believe in, but I digress) is to hustle hard. Pitch relentlessly. Not take no for an answer. Seek out alternative publications I may not have thought of. Do whatever it takes. Lay out my intentions and strive to deliver on them. Kind of what I’m doing here, I guess.

Related: The Blogcademy Melbourne.

Elsewhere: [The Vine] All Dogs Go to Seven.

Image via Pinterest.

Event: The Blogcademy Melbourne.

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This year has been one of professional development. I’ve completed two unpaid internships at Meanjin and The Lifted Brow, I’m working for Outback Championship Wrestling as their TV show’s host (which I have no idea how to do!) and I’ve spent my fair share of dosh on both in-person and online workshops, the most expensive of which was the Blogcademy, at upwards of $AU800.

That event took place last week at the Establishment Studios on Grattan Street in Prahan and was hosted by darlings of the blogging world Gala Darling, Shauna Haider and Kat Williams. I’d secured my place earlier in the year before I’d done many of the other workshops I mentioned above so by the time last week rolled around I was feeling about as professionally developed as I’m going to get so I wasn’t as excited as some of the other Blogcadettes seemed to be. Another factor that contributed to my stillness was that I’ve long stopped trying to monetise my blog, and instead I’m focusing on my freelance career (more to come on that soon).

Having said that, though, what I was most looking forward to was being around successful businesswomen who I hoped would inspire me going into the New Year.

While I certainly felt galvanised by Gala, Shauna and Kat and their stories, I felt that the workshop was a bit “Blogging 101” and that anyone who already had a blog, as was the case with all but one or two of the attendees, would already be familiar with much of the content.

I told some of the Blogcadettes at lunch on the first day what I was hoping to get out of the class, and that watching the Headmistresses divide the modules that make up the Blogcademy amongst themselves based on who was best equipped to teach them impressed me. As someone who really values their time and will not work for free anymore, I really respect the three women’s routine and that they were also able to work on their own businesses and blogs in the downtime between teaching modules. (What impressed me less was that the handful of volunteers assisting over the course of the two days were unpaid.)

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Putting to use my newfound Instagram skills after abusing the photobooth.

As the second day wore on, it became clear to many of the Blogcadettes that we perhaps weren’t going to get our $800 worth of blogging wisdom. The first half of the day consisted of taking the perfect Instagram picture, which is all well and good for those who rely heavily on that mode of social media such as Gala, Shauna and Kat, but I really hoped to get something more out of the social media component than how to take the perfect selfie. We then proceeded on to a one hour and fifty minute lunch before starting back on how to monetise your blog. By that point all the attendees had had a chat about the Blogcademy not living up to our expectations and that disillusionment could be felt in the Establishment Studios.

I’d told one of the other Blogcadettes my admiration for Gala, Shauna and Kat’s time management skills and she agreed but added that it could be construed as boredom, disinterest and concern with what was happening on their Twitter and Instagram than being engaged with us. It really hammered home that they’re businesswomen looking to make money from us; they’re not our friends as much as they may make us feel that way when reading their blogs (which could perhaps be the benchmark for successful blogging).

A couple of other people said that the bulk of the notes they made whilst in the workshop were of how they would better facilitate it, which is a pretty damning testament. Many others were disappointed at the lack of engagement and one-on-one time; “was anyone addressed by name over the two days?” someone wondered. (The consensus was mixed on the use of nametags, which I think could have been helpful.)

I’m making the Blogcademy sound like a painful, not al all valuable chore of a workshop and it was anything but. I got some good feedback on my blog, and somewhat of the kick up the ass I needed to implement changes to it. I probably wouldn’t recommend it, and I would encourage anyone looking to help out the next time the Blogcademy rolls into town to ask for payment; with 150 attendees in 2014, there should surely be some funds left over to support other budding businesswomen. (What’s that they say about women who don’t support other women…?) But the most invaluable aspect of the workshop was meeting the awesome women in the blogging community that travelled from interstate and overseas to attend, which I really respect and admire. Those who live in Melbourne are some kick-ass ladies I’m really looking forward to meeting up with again.

Failing that, at least I’ll be able to claim the Blogcademy back on tax!

On the (Rest of the) Net.

One Direction and performing straight-queer masculinity. [Daily Life]

Why India is the worst country in which to be a woman. [Daily Life] 

FOMO (fear of missing out) on YOLO (you only live once). I can totally relate to Mia’s predicament: at the moment I’m kind of experiencing a guilt or anxiety about not getting out and being social enough and doing things, but at the same time, as Mia writes, no matter how much you want to want to do something, you can’t force yourself to want to do it. So I’m taking solace in that fact. [MamaMia] 

I’ve been in two minds about the show in recent episodes, but looking back, I’m sad to see Don’t Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23 go. [Jezebel] 

We need to talk to our partners about porn. [Jezebel] 

Gala Darling has some fab tips for getting inspired and your time organised as a blogger. For those of you who visit this site regularly, you’ll have noticed that I’ve been pretty slack with content over the past couple of months, and that’s because I’ve been so uninspired. Now, as I start to get back into the swing of things and I’ve made a concerted effort to get inspired and start thinking of blog and freelance ideas, I think The Scarlett Woman will start looking more like the blog you know and (hopefully!) love. Thanks, Gala!

Procrastination Proclamation.

From Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem:

“Writers are notorious for using any reason to keep from working: over-researching, retyping, going to meetings, waxing the floors—anything. Organising, fundraising and working for Ms. magazine have given me much better excuses than those, and I’ve used them. As Jimmy Breslin said when he ran a symbolic campaign for a political office he didn’t want, ‘Anything that isn’t writing is easy.’ Looking back at an article I published in 1965, even when I was writing full-time and in love with my profession, I see, ‘I don’t like to write. I like to have written.'”

I don’t want to make excuses for why The Scarlett Woman has been low on content lately, but if Gloria Steinem says it…

On the (Rest of the) Net.

What it’s like to be an empowered sex worker. Yes, they exist. [MamaMia]

Stella Young prefers to be called a “disabled person” than a “person with a disability” despite the government’s Reporting It Right guidelines, thank you very much. [The Drum]

A recent altercation with a friend over something I wrote about them on this here blog has formed the basis for an “Ask Rachel” post. [Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

The opinion piece in last Saturday’s Good Weekend by food critic AA Gill about how men think women should dress was one I skipped over—I don’t really need to read yet another article about what men think women should do. Lindy Alexander takes Gill to task for it, though, saving me from having to rummage through the newspaper stack in my pantry to retrieve said article and get all riled up about it. [Daily Life]

Leave Lindsay Lohan alone! [TheVine]

“The A to Z of Freelancing.” [The Loop]

On the older virgin. [Daily Beast]

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is the latest woman of note to shun feminism. [Daily Life]

TV: Gossip Girl Thinks Bloggers Aren’t Good Enough.

 

When Serena feels backed into a corner by Gossip Girl and has to defend herself by penning her own blog at the typically British-named Diana’s (played by Warney’s squeeze Liz Hurley) New York Spectator, Blair harangues her, saying, “I’ve always thought you were too good to blog.” Thanks Blair; great to know where we stand.

But Blair’s is not a unique viewpoint: traditional forms of information gathering and sharing view blogging as the black sheep of the family. Because seemingly anyone can run a blog (though not everyone can run a good blog), those who excel in their field are sometimes deemed not as worthy of acceptance and recognition as those in conventional or “old” media, who rose up the ranks the old fashioned way. We all know one bad blogger can give the rest of us a bad name.

It wasn’t just Serena and her overt blogging dilemma that was relevant to budding online wordsmiths. When Dan freaks out that his book, Inside, has dropped from number nine on the New York Times Bestseller list last week, to completely off the chart this week, and forgoes his book touring commitments, trust old Rufus gives him a pep talk:

“It just takes one person to connect with your art, who feels like you directly communicated with them, to start a groundswell. But you can’t connect with that person unless you show up.”

So, disheartened bloggers, if your blog’s not bringing in the hits yet, just you wait: provided the content’s good (and even if it’s not!), it’s only a matter of time before you start a groundswell of your own. Now I’ve just got to remember that myself…

Related: The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

Image via Home of the Nutty.

12 Posts of Christmas: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

In the spirit Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favourite posts of the year in the twelve days leading up to December 25th. 

This one was written after Paper Giants aired on ABC in April, comparing the heyday of magazines with the impact of the digital world. You can read the original post here.

A few weeks ago, in response to ABC’s Paper Giants: The Birth of CleoMia Freedman wrote on MamaMia about her thoughts on the state of the (mag) nation and if magazines are still relevant and the amount of influence they wield in 2011:

“… Not that much excitement goes on in magazines anymore… [It’s a struggle to] get them [those who work on a magazine] to try and think about something that hasn’t been done before, something that will start a conversation and boost sales.”

Freedman compares pay TV’s Park Street, a The Devil Wears Prada-esque reality show about ACP’s head offices, featuring the editors of DollyCleoCosmoMadison and Shop Til You Drop, which received dismal ratings and poor audience response, to the critical success and brilliant take on Cleo in her influential heyday of Paper Giants. She says, “Gemma Crisp [editor of Cleo] explained the editorial process that a story undergoes from conception to publication. It takes a minimum of three months… When was the last time you waited three months for something? Life doesn’t happen in increments of months anymore. It happens in moments, in text messages, in Tweets. It’s fast and it’s relentless and if it takes you three months (or even three weeks) to get from thought to print then that’s just too long to retain the attention of your audience.”

When she puts it like that, Freedman makes me long for a simpler time, when I hung on the every word magazines published, as opposed to reading hundreds of articles a week, mostly on blogs, but also in magazines, in an attempt to stay on top of my blogging game.

Erica Bartle, creator of Girl with a Satchel and a former mag girl herself, says Freedman’s “blog-cum-website” “deals in what everyone’s talking about TODAY. It feeds off the 24-hour news cycle. And Mia’s own profile. And her opinion… It’s like a current affairs program for women online.” And now with MamaMia launching on SkyNews, Freedman’s brand is literally a current affairs program.

Not all blogs can operate this way. MamaMia has a team of bloggers, editors and techs who keep the site running smoothly which thus, as Bartle said, allows it to operate on a 24-hour news cycle.

Personally, I have a part-time paid job I go to four times a week, this means I only get to blog two or three days a week, and with so much info to process and a maximum of 15 posts per week to churn out in a small amount of time, this means I can’t always post as early and as often as I’d like.

But even for those who blog fulltime, like Bartle, it’s not always about what’s happening right NOW as it is about maintaining the blog’s integrity.“I personally operate on a different plane, because my beliefs very much inform my work. For that, I’m willing to sacrifice certain economic constraints,” she says.

Still in the blogging world, you have someone like Gala Darling, who is very much a self-made businesswoman as a result of her über-successful blog of the same name. She’s gone from strength to strength over the past few years; something she could never have done had she been a magazine editor (bar the select few, like Anna Wintour, Anna Dello Russo and yes, Freedman).

But, essentially, MamaMia has the advantage of possessing “a figurehead with credibility whose background is in traditional media. She has the gut instinct of an editor. Online you need news nous as well as technological nous and business nous.”

Another editor who has these qualities in spades is former Cleo and Girlfriend editor, Sarah Oakes, whom Bartle worked under at Girlfriend. Bartle says she invoked an atmosphere of ghosts of magazines past, creating “camaraderie, creativity and positivity, which I think she achieved. She gave you more work if she thought you could be stretched; gave you a talking to if you had crossed a line; gave you a pat on the back for a job well done.” Very Ita-like, wouldn’t you say?

Oakes is now editor of The Age Sydney Morning Herald’s Sunday Life supplement, a title which has improved markedly since she took over. (I have also blogged here about how I think both Girlfriend and Cleo became better titles under her leadership.)

In fact, newspaper inserts are giving the glossies on the newsstand a run for their money, as they “are getting exclusives and have strong writing and design teams, as well as columnists and styling/shoots. These free weekly titles, because of the mastheads they reside within, have enviable readerships and access to celebrities. They are also respectable, well executed and FREE,” Bartle notes.

But at the end of the day, are magazines relevant?

Freedman writes:

“The internet has not only sucked up their readers, it has also gobbled up their purpose: to be a way women form tribes and communicate. Now there’s YouPorn and any other number of sites for titillation, Google for questions about sex, and any number of websites or free newspaper magazines if you’re looking for other types of content or a magazine-style experience. Women don’t want to be spoken TO anymore. They want to be part of the conversation, something which the internet allows, in fact depends on… the internet has taken the sting out of the raunch-factor for mags like Cosmo and Cleo.”

Yes, as Freedman says, there are much raunchier locales to get what would have been included in a sealed section only a few years ago. There’s also Perez Hilton, TMZ and even shows like Entertainment Tonight and E! News that monopolise celebrity content, while the fashion blogs are more of a go-to for what kids are wearing these days.

Sure, Vogue’s always going to be a premiere source for high fashion shoots from photographers the likes of Annie Leibovitz, Patrick Demarchelier and David LaChapelle, but magazines “seem to exist on a strangely distant planet where all the people look like plastic and the sole pursuit is ‘perfection’. Except that perfection doesn’t really exist,” says Freedman.

When sites like JezebelCover Girl Culture and, yes, MamaMia and Girl with a Satchel are debunking photoshop myths and striving for more realistic representations of women in the media, magazines are doing this movement any favours. (Except maybe Brigitte.)

And when you can get most of a magazine’s content online anyway (I passed on a near-$20 copy of US Harper’s Bazaar in favour of accessing interviews with Kim Kardashian and Hillary Clinton on their website), are they really worth it?

Bartle doesn’t think so. “No, but they need to be distinctive from what we can get online or elsewhere if we are going to part with $5-$10 to purchase one. Premium magazines, which I have no qualms spending extra on, include The Gentlewoman and O The Oprah Magazine, because they cater to my tastes, sensibility and need for a good read on a Saturday afternoon with a cup of tea.”

I agree with Bartle’s sentiments.

While online is great for content from individuals not curated and/or watered down by magazines editors to fit the mold of their magazine, holding a truly great glossy in your hands, like the appeal of a physical book, while at the hairdressers, a café or tucked up in bed, means magazines will always hold a place in our hearts.

Right next to the Kindle and Google Reader.

Related: Paper Dwarves, Digital Giants.

Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

Everything They Touch Turns To Gold.

Evolution of the Bookshop at The Wheeler Centre.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Paper Giants VS. Park Street: Why Magazines Are Not What They Used to Be.

[MamaMia] MamaMia Gets a TV Show.

[Girl with a Satchel] Homepage.

[Girl with a Satchel] Mid-Week Media Musings.

[Gala Darling] Homepage.