Since hashtags are becoming a new language that every professional must become fluent in, here are a few you can likely decipher without Google translate: #BossLady, #MeToo, #WhoRuntheWorld and #GirlBoss.
As female entrepreneurism continues to be a steady growing sector of small business, women are using their innate collaborative nature to team together for shared success. Instead of pushing one lady down in favor of reaching that glass ceiling faster, many women rally together to propel forward. This attitude isn’t just trendy or quotable, but it’s a perspective that fosters a collective support system of shared wisdom and camaraderie.
Though the world of writing is historically competitive, it takes more than a wordsmith to make media magic. As the mantra goes, the army of powerhouses charges to the scene as sources, publicists, editors, fact-checkers and collaborators. When female writers come to each other’s aid, quality content can be produced — and the gender disparity in bylines and newsroom board meetings gets closer to equality.
As freelance writer and content strategist Caitlin Collins explains, “As the ability — and ease — to write and share expands, the voice of career writers seems to get lost… and yet these voices are tremendously important. If we support each other, we can protect the profession and encourage more women to follow their passion for writing.”
Here, successful women writers share their best resources and advice for streamlining your business, tracking clients, pitching outlets and putting your best professional foot forward.
1. Read other writers.
As we explored in part one of our Women’s History month series, women have been writing just as long as men, but with much less recognition. Freelance journalist and podcaster Suchandrika Chakrabarti encourages women to do your part in putting female wordsmiths into mainstream by reading their work. Not only does it remove you from the often solitary life of being a writer, but it sparks creativity, formulates new ideas and propels another woman forward.
When you find a female journalist, reporter or blogger whose work you admire, take the time to subscribe to their blog. Or shoot ‘em an email complimenting their work. In this, you can ask for guidance, and see if they’d meet you for a cup of coffee (your treat). Making these connections will give you a lead in the competition, since you’ll be learning from the best of the best. For media-centric advice, Chakrabarti recommends newsletters from freelance writers Anna Codrea-Rado, Sian Meades and Sonia Weiser who collect editors’ calls for pitches and give advice.
2. Utilize networking in any way you can…
…and anywhere you are. Because writers only need a laptop, Wi-Fi and a cup of Joe to meet their deadlines and reach millions, the gig can be taken all over the world. The millennial generation takes this concept and quite literally runs with it, adopting the digital nomad lifestyle in every nook-and-cranny of the globe. However, the priceless value of networking isn’t to be discounted, even if you’re on the road.
Freelance writer Sasha Horne makes an extra effort to connect with fellow journalists when she’s traveling, expanding her network as wide as her world view. “When I’m planning to visit a city or country, I immediately turn to Facebook, Instagram, Eventbrite and Meetup looking for events that are happening locally, people who I may know from other places who now live there,” she continues. “I really use social media to its fullest advantage when it comes to curating experiences, finding brand partnerships and for story ideas for my sites or my clients.”
3. Consider your online portfolio.
When an editor looks to hire a new writer, the first action-item they check off is reading your work. And if you don’t have a destination to organize and structure your portfolio, you’re already falling behind in the game. Freelance writer and entrepreneur Jane Coloccia recommends using the many website — and clip — building resources available to digital storytellers.
From CV Portfolios and Clippings to MuckRack and other aggregates, there are endless options that present your work professionally. Many tutorials for portfolio building are also available, from YouTube videos and step-by-step guides to basic platforms. Use these to your advantage so you can hit the internet pitching.
4. Make yourself available — and share the wealth.
There are plenty of Facebook communities for writers these days, especially those within the “Binders” collection. No matter your beat, searching for “Binders of…” can introduce you to travel reporters, health writers, dating bloggers and any other genre you’re part of.
Engaging, posting and commenting in these communities widens your net, and possibly, introduces you to fellow female writers you could work with. It’s through these networking interactions that Coloccia has found — and given — opportunities to others. “I’ve also had instances where a writer associate gave me a project that she couldn’t handle for whatever reason and I’ve had times when I’ve had too much work so I’ve needed people to help me out as well,” she explains. “While you have to be careful of the people who steal your clients, for the most part I’ve found people to help boost your mood when you feel down, to inspire you when you hit a brick wall, to provide a great resource when you need it, or just to commiserate with at the end of a bad day.”
5. Expand your skills with Canva, SquareSpace and Wix.
We already know the job description of a writer is no longer a short paragraph about stringing together sentences. With many demands in the content sphere — including SEO, branding, social media and more — the more you diversity your services and portfolio, the more income you’ll bring in.
In addition to the many courses online, there are tailored sites that add proficiencies to your resume, too. Coloccia recommends Canva for graphic design needs, Wix for websites, and PayPal and Square for accepting payments. Though this might not be the most alluring part of reaping another byline, to build a stable, dependable career, staying organized should be at the top of your priority list.
And if you’re going to attend networking events, you’re going to need business cards to show off your skills. Collins suggests investing in Moo to produce modern, quality cardstock cards that’ll wow editors and other writers. For keeping track of payments, she’s a fan of FreshBooks, a simple, seamless service. Even if you start lean with these programs, you will have the professional edge that most clients seek when taking on new talent.
6. Lastly, don’t hold back.
Being part of a Facebook group of writers means you’re able to ask questions. And seek advice. Or if you meet another writer who seems to have it together and you can’t figure out how to streamline your assignments —inquire on how they did it. When an editor gives you feedback on a piece and you’re not sure on why they edited you, feel empowered to request for critical feedback. Your rate’s too low? Ask for more because you earned it.
With a world full of women writers, the more we speak up, speak out and allow ourselves to be vulnerable, the more barriers we will break through. There’s strength in numbers, and more so, there’s steam found in not only propelling yourself to the top of the masthead, but bringing another sister with you.