Expert Tips on Starting Your Editor, Blogger or Writing Career
Do you want to know how to become a writer? Are you interested in becoming an editor? Have you always wanted to start a blog? These can be excellent options for teachers who want to leave their everyday classroom educator roles, or add some extra money to their pockets in their spare time.
I spoke with a content professional who has been in the industry since 2006 for advice on how to launch a writing career in today's competitive market.
Tracy Block, 35, hails from Miami, Florida and is the founder of Block Media Worldwide, a content development agency that recruits writers for assignments in a variety of vertical markets. But long before she became the executive of her own company, Block was another undergraduate deciding what to be once she graduated.
Here she answers questions on how to become a writer, from tips on how to start a blog to transitioning to become an editor.
First off, can you share a little about yourself? What got you interested in a writing career?
Block: I grew up in Miami, Florida and went to the University of Florida. I originally majored in public relations. However, when the time came to dive into my required PR writing courses, one of my writing professors took me aside and told me to reconsider my path. It was her confidence in me and my writing talent that influenced my decision to change my major to journalism.
I remember always being eager to proofread and improve my roommate's English lit papers. I absolutely loved glossy magazines, and always dreamed of having my byline on the masthead — maybe one day being named editor-in-chief. Once I decided to change my track in college, I was able to select magazine journalism as my concentration.
What did you do after college?
Little did I know the recession would hit extremely hard after I moved back to Miami, making it near-impossible to land gigs in print. I freelanced within the lifestyle and entertainment space for many years (and still do), but also began to make a name for myself in the online media realm.
I took on launch editor positions with companies like Zagat and NBC, did celebrity reporting for IN TOUCH and even penned an online food column called "Food Fight" for AOL.
How did you get into writing content?
It wasn't until about seven years into my career that I decided to take on an interview with an internet marketing incubator in Miami seeking to expand its content operation. I went in for a full-time writing job and came out as the inaugural content team manager. I worked long hours to structure my first-ever content team, which, at its peak, consisted of managing 15 writers and editors.
While maintaining my role in content marketing, I continued to freelance on the side. I felt like I had the best of both worlds — being able to hone my craft as a manager while still contributing stories on topics I enjoyed.
At the end of 2015, I decided to relocate to Colorado. I felt satisfied with what I'd accomplished in Miami and was seeking a new chapter. I moved to the mountains and continued freelancing full-time as I tried to envision my future. In 2016, I was officially 10 years into my career. I decided it was time to pool all of my skills together and launch my own company, and that is how Block Media Worldwide was born.
In 2018, I began to heavily recruit writers for various projects. I currently maintain a pool of talented writers for whom I source work in different mediums. I enjoy management and have been mentoring new writers for as long as I can remember. It is very fulfilling to be in a position of leadership and mentorship, and I hope to continue growing my company and client roster as the demand for exceptional content increases.
For grads wanting to know how to become a writer, what steps do you recommend?
Get an early start while you are still a student. Find out how you can contribute to your school/city publications and build up a writing portfolio early. Also, seek out an internship within the niche you want to work.
Pay attention to any supplementary courses on your track — graphic design, online journalism, marketing, advertising, communications. These are all extremely important components to help shape the media professional you strive to be.
Is not having an undergraduate journalism degree a deal-breaker?
In my experience, it is certainly beneficial. However, I don't think a degree is a deal-breaker when you are advanced in your career. As a job applicant, I feel that having a journalism degree from the prestigious program at the University of Florida definitely worked in my favor. As a recruiter of writers, I would only place focus on an undergraduate degree if I am dealing with an applicant without any prior writing experience. Most of the time, a healthy list of clips and writing samples does the trick for me.
How important a role do you think journalism internships at magazines or newspapers play in securing a job as a writer or editor?
Internships are great because they allow you to experience the culture and environment in real time. Not only will an internship be impressive to list on your resume, but you can also get a feel for the media industry and decide if it is ultimately right for you. Nowadays, thanks to the online media boom, you can even land "remote" internships. While you may not be able to work in a physical office setting, you can still learn the ropes and get important work experience, and possible bylines, under your belt. This will help boost your candidacy within the competitive job market.
Is grad school required for a writing career?
Personally, I do not think so. I considered going back for my master's at the University of Florida, but after reviewing the curriculum, it made no sense to invest the money. Within my own work experience, I had already made my way through everything I would have learned in the program.
Any pro tips for those considering becoming a writer/editor/blogger?
Well, as we all know, these days, anyone can be a "blogger. I entered the industry during a very transitional time. Print was dying, online was burgeoning, and bloggers were everywhere. And there I was with a solid degree and education competing against bloggers who couldn't spell to save their lives!
I was extremely frustrated with the movement at first, but I have evolved. I feel blogs are wonderful tools now for so many reasons. A blog gives you a platform to create, in your own voice. If you do not have any clips to present to a hiring manager, being able to send the link to a blog you launched will prove you know the climate—and have talent beyond just writing. Be passionate about something, whatever your blog topic may be.
Do you have any recommendations on how those seeking writing careers can make their work experience stand out on a resume?
As someone who offers resume and cover letter writing and consulting, I think the most important aspect of crafting a resume is the clean design. Keep your work experience listings short and sweet. Use concise descriptors and list your strengths in bullet form. Less is more! I also recommend including a link to your digital portfolio within your resume. Provide the hiring manager with everything needed, so he or she does not need to ask for anything more when considering you.
Now that you know more about how to start a blog and how to become an editor, check out our Resume Builder to create a resume that highlights your stellar skills and experience. Then, work from one of our Cover Letter Templates to craft a compelling narrative that shows your enthusiasm and talents for a writing career.