Insiders and outsiders

How to move in and move up when you’re still the little guy. Or gal

I’ve read a lot of advice about pitching individual features, but it seems like recurring features are even more valuable for anyone making a go of freelancing. What does a good pitch for that look like? Even if I’ve got a good relationship with an editor and she knows what I’m good at, how do I convince her I’ll have something interesting to write about each week? —Russell

Show, don’t tell. Before pitching a column, I’d get yourself into a regular pitching/writing schedule. Every Monday, make sure she’s got a pitch waiting in her inbox from you. (On Mondays, editors are sifting through email from the weekend and looking ahead to line up the week’s content.) If she’s in the market for regular writers, she’ll pick up on what you’re doing soon enough. For writers, a recurring gig is the freelance holy grail. But what works for you doesn’t necessarily work for your editor. Maybe she’s got a limited budget and can’t afford to publish you every week. Maybe she’s got a mandate to mix up the voices on the site. That said, columnists and contributing editors prove their worth by being endless fonts of great ideas, consistently on time, pleasant to edit, and popular with readers. Be all of those things.

There’s a fine line between networking at a social event and being a douchebag. At the parties for the last magazine I worked at, you’d start talking to someone, and five minutes later he’d be hitting you up for a job. It always felt, well, #rude. What’s the best way to hustle to make connections when you’re out and about without people realizing what’s happening? Basically, #realtalk master, how do you get to be smooth? (Spare me the Rob Thomas GIF.) Zak Stone

In pretty much every scenario, do your best to be the life of the party, not that awkward drunk journalist begging for a job. That’s not a cute look.

How? I am going to approach this like a Glamour “dos and don’ts.” Do assume everyone is a Big Fucking Deal (or will be soon) and treat them accordingly. This means being as genuinely interested in chatting with editorial assistants as you are editors in chief. Don’t be afraid to say hi first, but be gracious and sashay away when the conversation peters out. Do give sincere compliments. Do project your best self: be funny, be witty. Don’t ask for work outright, because even if this particular person is in charge of hiring, they’re not going to make any decisions on the spot. Don’t talk about what you hope to be doing in five years—this isn’t a job interview, at least not yet. Do talk about the interesting things you’re writing and reading about now. And do follow up with a brief email that includes a link to your personal site.

I need #realtalk on how to handle conferences when there are a million other journos around for bigger pubs than mine. Rose Eveleth

Embrace your underdog status—sometimes there’s a real advantage to being the outsider. To use a classic example, take your cue from Jimmy Breslin’s piece on John F. Kenney’s gravedigger. Rather than compete with the scrum at the funeral, he wandered off and talked to a man who was seemingly a bit player, a nobody. And he ended up with the only memorable piece of journalism from the event.

I need a GIF for when an outside consultant gives a workshop and tells your boss what you and others in your department have been saying for a long time, (i.e., we need a blog for the website). —Elizabeth

Been there, girl.

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Ann Friedman is a magazine editor who loves the internet. She lives in Los Angeles Tags: #Realtalk