Three times in the 16 years I’ve been in the publishing industry, I’ve gone after jobs and writing opportunities well before positions were ever posted in want ads – even before publications were launched. Each time, I’ve landed a much-wanted gig, ultimately leading me to the successful freelance-writing career I have today.
First, as a college senior, having written for the student newspaper and interned at magazines, I knew I wanted to land a job at a major magazine in New York City.
During spring break, I met with about a half-dozen managing editors who had graciously agreed to meet with me for “informational interviews.” These weren’t for any open, advertised jobs. Rather, I’d asked them for meetings to pick their brains about the industry and learn a bit about what entry-level folks at their magazines did.
Lo and behold, the hiring editor at one of those magazines, Working Mother, thought of me immediately when later that spring an editorial assistant position opened up unexpectedly. I interviewed over the phone and landed the job just before graduation.
My three-year stint at Working Mother was the best introduction to the magazine industry I could have hoped for. I was promoted to assistant editor, eventually wrote features, and even freelanced for the magazine after I moved to Colorado.
Fast forward 10 years, after getting married and having two children. I was freelance writing for local publications, public relations companies and graphic design firms, happily working from home, when a child-care director told me about a new local parenting magazine that was about to launch. What a perfect freelance outlet for me!
As soon as I could get to a phone, I called the publisher, who had me talk to his wife, the managing editor. I told her of my background and asked for a meeting to discuss potential story ideas.
Once we met in person, I presented her with a list of about 10 articles I wanted to write. She assigned me one for the second issue; I wrote two for the third; ended up compiling the calendar of events (and writing articles) for the fourth. By the time the fifth issue was published, I was on the masthead as the editor of Mountain Parent, and have been intimately involved with the bi-monthly publication ever since.
Last fall, I decided I wanted to focus on travel writing. Married to an adventurous, well-traveled husband, we’ve been carting our kids on vacations by plane since they were each two months old.
I launched myself into the field, taking a travel-writing course, posting on travel-writing online forums, reading as much about the genre as I could. In my late-night Internet surfing, I came across Go World Travel Magazine, a travel e-zine. From that site, I learned that its publisher was based in Colorado and she’d soon be launching an e-zine about life and travel in my home state.
I immediately shot off an email to the publisher, outlining my credentials, asking how I could contribute to the new publication. She sent my clips to the associate editor and within days I had an assignment. Since then, GoColorado.com has run four of my stories, and I look forward to a long relationship with the website.
“The Secret,” “the law of attraction” and the belief that we “attract into our lives the things we want” is all over the media today. I’d like to think I was onto the phenomenon 16 years ago, when I was a college senior, just dreaming about a successful career as a writer or editor. Today, it’s my reality.
Kara Williams is an award-winning freelance writer who has covered topics ranging from business and babies to skiing and spas in her 23-year editorial career. Kara has been employed as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor and corporate copy editor.