It all began with an email. On an otherwise ordinary day, I opened my email inbox to find a message with the subject line “October ELLE.”
I clicked on the message to find correspondence from an editor at ELLE magazine who wanted to know if I would be interested in writing an article for the magazine for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
At first, I was certain I was being Punk’d (Remember that show?). But after finding the editor on LinkedIn and other sites I realized this was real. I realized I had just been asked to write for a magazine in the top 3 of my byline bucket list. I was so excited I ran laps through my house for a solid minute before I calmed down enough to share the good news with my husband.
The article was hard work. I had to interview several sources and the assignment required a quick turnaround on the first draft and the revision. But I did it. The article — For Breast Cancer, 40 is the New 50 — ran in both the October issue of the magazine and online.
The experience taught me so much about freelancing. Here are three of the most valuable lessons learned.
Build your brand.
I’m constantly encouraging my fellow freelancers to build their personal brands. When you are building an online presence you’re increasing the chances that the publications on your byline bucket list will reach out to you too. The editor I worked with at ELLE had been to my website. She was mentioning to me articles I wrote a decade ago!
So what does it mean to build your brand? Use your website and social media to show off your work and to convey who you are, what you do, and why you do it.
But this experience also reminded me that I need to do a better job keeping my online portfolio updated.
Share your story.
I’m sure the ELLE editor I worked with knows dozens of other freelancers she could have called on for the article that I did. But she wanted me to write the story because I’m a breast cancer survivor. She wouldn’t have known that if I hadn’t shared my story on my blog, on social media, and in articles I’ve written for other publications.
Don’t be afraid to get personal. Don’t be afraid to share your story.
Trust your talent.
I have a confession. Even though I’ve dreamt of writing for ELLE for 20 years, I’ve never sent a pitch. A part of me always doubted if I was ready to write for such a major magazine. Fortunately, God was like, “Girl, stop trippin’” and opened the door for me before I even knocked.
The lesson here is that it’s time for me to trust my talent and pitch the other publications on my byline bucket list and go after my other big hairy audacious goals too. After all, I’ve already accomplished one of my biggest writing goals, which was to become a full-time freelancer.
I have many other freelancing lessons to share and you can find them all in my signature course See Jane Freelance.
Now through Monday, November 27, you can get 50 percent off my course with the code BLKFRI. You can also pay in two installments. I’m determined to help you achieve your freelancing dreams too.