What I Learned From My First Writing Job

Writing has been my passion for as long as I can remember. When I was younger I used to listen to music and I was so interested in the way the words in the songs moved me and it inspired me to move people the same way. I started out writing poetry and songs, as a way to explore my written talents, I read magazines like VIBE, JET, Ebony, and Cosmopolitan and I realized storytelling and article writing was for me. Fast-forward into college I majored in journalism and started interning for publications like VIBE, The Rapfest, Kontrol Magazine, and more. The more I pieces I wrote, the more I fell in love. I even ran a music blog prior to this, when I highlight upcoming artist in NYC and later on produced a mixtape with a local DJ. That was dope!

Fast-forward a little more, I completely rebranded my website. I started writing about beauty, hair, and self-care because I think the direction of my life just took me there. I had been going through things that made my mental health and self-care a top priority and I had recently big chopped and became “natural” and I wanted to share my experience. That’s what leads us here, krissylewis.com. I started this blog and rebranded my social in November 2017. By June 2018, I received an email with a job offer to write for xoNecole. I was completely surprised! One, because they found me on IG and second I had loved the platform for so long that, when they reach out I jumped at the opportunity. I would have even done it for free if I’m being honest. I wanted to write for them when Necole originally rebranded back in 2015, but I guess it wasn’t my time.

Since getting this opportunity, it has taught me so much while also revealing that I have so much more to learn. Although I’m still on my journey, I wanted to share a few major lessons with you.

Create Your Own Opportunity

What I Learned From My First Writing Job
Photo: Drea Speaks Photography

I mentioned I spent years of interning and I’ve had opportunities come from it, but they weren’t paid. While money isn’t everything, it’s needed. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices financially to support my goals, but I felt like I needed to see where I can get on my own. So, I started this blog. I researched what I needed to do, how to build this website, what I wanted to write about, who would be my audience, etc..

I created the site an I wrote weekly articles and operating like this was my job, not a hobby. And with time, dedication, and God, it landed me at xoNecole. WHich I will forever be grateful for. I landed my first paid gig on a leap faith and confidence in myself and I think they saw that. So, I would definitely keep your eye on opportunities, but create your own at the same damn time.

Don’t Get Comfortable

Look, when you freelance, you’re constantly on the hunt for new jobs and opportunities, so don’t get comfortable with one. Especially if you write, know that budgets change often and your job security is guaranteed. To be honest, I don’t think any job is ever guaranteed.  Be as hungry as you were prior to landing a new gig. I’m learning the key is: multiple streams of income, getting your art out there, and constantly improving.

Be Confident Even When It Gets Tough

This is something I’m learning to keep at the forefront of things. I confidence takes hard hits and I’m just being real. Be a creative or artist (however you identify) it gets tough, there are moments where you feel on top of the world and other time when you feel like it may not be for you.

When I started writing for xoNecole, I was not only joining a sisterhood, but I’m joining a team with some of the dopest black writers. I used to feel like I didn’t belong, but I had to get that out of my head because I actually did. I used to feel a bit of pressure to make sure my articles did well and were what the brand wanted. Looking back at those times, that was the devil getting in my head. If I didn’t have it, then I wouldn’t be there. Periodt.

Sometimes we get in our own way as far as confidence is concerned. I keep telling myself this:  I will focus on this moment and not the what ifs. I will always be a student and allow myself to grow.

Finding Balance With Work

Photo: Drea Speaks Photography

I learned to find the balance with time, content, and energy with my freelance jobs and my blog. In my opinion, it’s easy to get caught up. I wanted to do well and prove that they made a good decision adding me to the team and I was just hella excited to create. However, I had to make sure I kept creating on all platforms with the same amount of love, drive, and attention. I was writing once a week with xoNecole and my blog, plus I had clients that I provided marketing services for. It got overwhelming at times but I had to make time for everything.

I created a schedule and was honest when I needed to extend deadlines. For writers, don’t hesitate to ask for an extension. Life happens and most likely your editor or manager will understand. However, that doesn’t mean you need to have a deadline extension on every article. Use it when you really need it.

Finding A Writing Home

What I Learned From My First Writing Job
Photo: Drea Speaks Photography

I’m understanding what’s for me will come when God thinks I’m ready. I’ve pitched a few publications and I don’t get them all, but don’t stop trying. It can be many reasons why you haven’t gotten a response but it isn’t because you’re not good enough. Sometimes editors don’t respond because:

  • They’re busy and may have missed the email. Resend it!
  • Maybe they have a certain time when they bring writers on. I mentioned budget earlier, sometimes they see your worth and want to compensate you for it when the coins are right for them.
  • Perhaps your pitch wasn’t what they were looking for, reflect on how you can make it better and pitch again.

That’s just some things to keep in mind. xoNecole was not my first writing opportunity, but it was the first one that made me feel like I was apart of something, I had sisters, and people to talk to and learn from. It’s a loving, encouraging, and cool ass environment that I will always be grateful to be a part of.

Moving forward, I’m working on pitching to more outlets and expanding my writing palette. In the meantime, check out my articles on xoNecole, HERE.