How To Get Bylines When You Don't Have Bylines, Giant Zucchini, Ten Books To Consider For Late August, and more
Advice for new writers, welcoming new readers, and lots of freebies too!
Happy Friday, friends!
Are you ready for a weekend filled with writing, reading, travelling, and dare I say…. Gardening? Yep, I grew these beasts of zucchinis in my backyard. Nope, don’t have a plan for them yet. The tiny delicious ground cherries were delicious however.
I want to share a warm welcome to some new subscribers. The Clothesline was mentioned in Ann Friedman Weekly, and it’s lovely to have so many of Ann’s readers joining me here. Plus, there are some new community members who discovered me through Veronica Arboleda’s fantastic summit on building your newsletter with AI (which you can still enjoy FOR FREE: Get your ticket here.) I’m so glad you enjoyed watching my interview with Veronica, and I’m thrilled that we can also connect here.
You know I LOVE a freebie, so in case you forgot to download some of my latest offerings:
12 Ways To Repurpose Old Content (awesome for bloggers, if I do say so myself!)
FREE travel budget template: You can download it free by clicking here. If you love travel lists like me, this is your resource.
And, of course, on the second Thursday of each month, please join me for the Thursday Murder (Book) Club. We discuss a different cozy, British-style mystery book each month and on September 14th, we’re reading Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Sutanto
The Freelance Conundrum: Creating Bylines To Get Bylines
A student in this summer’s workshop about freelance business basics asked the best question: How exactly can you get a byline when you don’t have any bylines? What a great ask! You need experience to get a job, but the only way to get experience is… through a job. Ugh.
I’ve been brainstorming this question for weeks, and I’ve come up with the following suggestions on how you can prove your writing chops as you pursue your first freelance assignments.
If my list is missing any ideas, please let me know! (I’m at VanessaChiasson@gmail.com)
Add a basic blog to your portfolio (aka the simple, easy-to-negotiate webpage that houses your bio and future bylines. That’s your portfolio!) Can you imagine three subjects you care deeply about and can showcase some of your writing and research skills?
Guest blog on someone else’s site. Do you have a friend in the industry open to hosting a guest blog on their site?
Add content to a workplace blog or update web copy. Have you already been writing at your day job, writing a workplace blog or taking care of their online material like writing employee bios? That’s writing experience!
Write for a community newspaper. In my home city of Ottawa, the Kitchissippi Times covers news and events in (you guessed it!) the Kitchissippi ward of the city. They even pay a small stipend. Does your neighbourhood have something similar?
Write for an online community newsletter. Don’t limit yourself to geography.
Submit articles for public service journalism that welcomes everyone. Prestigious outlets often save space for new writers. In Canada, two to have on your radar are CBC Life and Globe and Mail’s First Person (Fun fact: My first byline was in the Globe and Mail, back when First Person was called Facts and Arguments).
Newspaper op-eds. Do you think your newspaper has missed a point of view for a current news concern? You could write an op-ed!
Pitching outlets when you are the only one who can tell the story: One of writer Jenee Darden’s early bylines was for the L.A Times. She shared what it was like to come of age during the O.J. Simpson trial. Her father is lawyer Christopher Darden and Jenee was the only person who could tell that story. However, you don’t have to be famous for your personal essay and witness-to-history story to find a home. You could build a beautiful piece around taking your grandparent, a war veteran, to Remembrance Day ceremonies.
Write for cheap outlets that aren’t picky about how much experience their writers have but do so strategically because everyone (even new writers) deserves to be paid well. Limit yourself to three cheapies. Look for respected names and diverse subject matter, and avoid fussy, time-intensive pieces.
(My first paid byline was 1500 words for a grand total of $30. Don’t be me).
Link to other projects. Who says you have showcase writing bylines to prove your talent? You can link to a research paper, an art project, or a display you helped design. There are a lot of ways to prove talent.
If you know anyone looking to hone their freelance skills (like landing a first byline!) I’m again offering my free, 90-minute So You Want To Be A Freelance Writer workshop this fall. Join me on September 21st at 3:00 PM EST. Everyone is welcome.
What I’ve Been Writing
You’ll find one of Canada’s strangest beaches, filled with a drowned forest at the southernmost tip of Nova Scotia.
What is the best way to decorate a garden? Try a whirligig!
What I’ve Been Reading (aka ten books to consider before September)
How to Keep House While Drowning: A Gentle Approach to Cleaning and Organizing by K.C. Davis. As a new season and school year approaches, this is an interesting take on ‘care’ tasks for yourself and your home.
A Pen Dipped In Poison by J.M. Hall. If you need one more summery murder mystery, you’ll enjoy this light read in which three retired teachers investigate trouble at their old school (we read another book by Hall during August’s book club!)
(Read on for more….)
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