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Journalism Advice

So You Want to Interview a Celebrity?


While landing a celebrity interview may be hard, the interview itself may prove even more of a challenge. You’ll likely be working under a limited time frame, provided a list of blackballed question and topics, and, chances are, the celebrity won’t be the only person joining you for the interview.

If you can come up with an original hook, are tenacious about getting through to a publicist, do your research and prep well, that first successful celebrity interview might not be your last. Just remember to keep your idolization in check, as did Kristen Fischer when she interviewed Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey:

I never told Dempsey that I all but wore out the VHS tape of his ’80s flick Can’t Buy Me Love because I watched it so much… and I never called him McDreamy or told him I had seen every episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Although I was nervous to interview one of my favorite actors, keeping a professional tone helped foster a better dialog.

For more advice on acing your celebrity interview, read: The Keys to Landing a Celebrity Interview.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

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What One Freelance Writer Learned After Taking the Leap to a Full-time Career

contract-salaried-blogThere are a lot of freedoms that come with being a freelance writer. You have the flexibility of choosing which publications to target and the types of stories to pitch. Not to mention you get to work from the comfort of your couch — in your pajamas, if you want.

However, as writer Amanda Layman Low discovered, the benefits of making the jump from a freelancer to a salaried position helped her not only become a better writer, but also learn more about herself. She was also able to stress less about finances. Layman Low says:

When I was a full-time freelancer, every moment was an opportunity for more income, more ideas. I never stopped working. As a salaried technical writer, I work from 8 to 5, Monday through Friday, with no worries about missing an opportunity and losing out on a bunch of money over the weekend.

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High-Profile Clips, Networking Help Pave the Way to a Celebrity Ghostwriting Gig

Writers willing to forego a byline and venture into the world of celebrity ghostwriting should know that the work is fiercely competitive. But there are steps you can take to help break into this profitable market.

Before writing the life and times of Steven Spielberg or LeBron James, a writer who seeks to enter the celebrity ghostwriting field needs to be considered a credible journalist with more than a few stories published in respected publications. According to Madeleine Morel, a literary agent who only represents veteran ghostwriters:

You really have to get your name out as many places as you can. The more you can build your inventory of published material, the better chance you have of being taken seriously.

Another important aspect of celebrity ghostwriting is networking with other freelancers. Michelle Burford, a best-selling writer, recommends reaching out to colleagues and offering to take on any projects they decide to turn down.

For more tips on how to get your own celebrity ghostwriting gig, read: How to Land a Celebrity Ghostwriting Gig.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

How Freelancers Can Break Into Community Journalism

For journalists just starting their careers and breaking into freelance work, national magazines and newspapers are the usual avenues for which to concentrate pitches. However, an often-overlooked market is right under their noses. Covering local news and events for websites and publications might just be the ticket to landing steady work. In Mediabistro’s latest Journalism Advice column, editors offer tips for entering the field of community journalism.

One tip is to ask for advice from your freelancer network. Writers should speak with successful colleagues in their areas to get the scoop on where to find writing opportunities. Beth Winegarner, a writer for the Poynter Institute, said tapping your fellow freelancers is invaluable:

Knowing who’s writing, and who they’re writing for, gives you a good sense of which publications are open to taking freelance work.

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Editors Give Tips on How to Succeed at a Media Internship

Now that summer is here many young media professionals have begun internships with the hope of acquiring the skills and contacts that will help make getting a job after graduation that much easier. However, it is not enough to just have a list of editorial internships on your resume. The time at your job has to be well spent. In Mediabistro’s latest Journalism Advice column, we asked editors for advice on how to succeed at your summer internship.

One tip involves receiving constructive criticism from your supervisor:

When an editor gives you feedback, it’s important to be able to take it in stride and know that it’s nothing personal against you or your writing,” says Taylor Trudon, editor of Huffington Post Teens. ”They’re taking their time away from whatever they’re doing to help you improve.

Another tip is Googling the small stuff (like what a specific journalism term means), but asking about any big concerns you have about your assignments, the office culture, etc.:

Ask questions if you don’t know,” says Trudon. “A lot of interns are either scared or embarrassed, but it’s better to ask than to make a mistake, backtrack and have to clean up a big mess.

For more tips from editors on how to make the most of your editorial internship, read: 8 Ways to Succeed at and Editorial Internship.



How to Create a Successful Fashion Blog

While the Internet and online communities have always been viewed as a dwelling for the wardrobe challenged, Vicki Sullivan bridges the gap between fashion and the blogging world with her blog, Aspiring Socialite. In fact, her work stands as a testament to just how successful a truly dedicated fashion blogger can be.

In our latest Journalism Advice article, Sullivan offers advice on how to use your fashion blog to jump-start a career working with top luxury brands and developing incredible contacts in the fashion world. One big aspect according to Sullivan, is choosing just the right moniker:

The name you choose for your blog must be a natural fit that truly expresses who you are, as it is the essence of your personal brand. Often, the name can come to you rather unexpectedly.

Says fashion blogger Melissa Tierney: ”The name for my blog was a joint effort. I took a notebook and wrote down tons of different possible names. Finally, as I was walking to my office on Madison Ave., I came up with Missy On Madison.”

In addition to choosing the right name, Sullivan shares how to find your own voice, brand and the importance of a good URL.

To read more about fashion blogs and how to create your own, read: The Keys to Starting Your Own Fashion Blog.

BuzzFeed Producer Shares Some Viral Video Mantras

If you’ve not yet seen the following BuzzFeed video, take a moment to check it out. Posted just ahead of Valentine’s Day 2014, it examines the tendency of fashion magazines to Photoshop their cover girls by running a number of non-models through the same, retouch process.

Based in LA, BuzzFeed senior video producer (and former Mediabistro staffer) Andrew Gauthier explains to’s technology editor Abigail Edge that this video stands as a perfect example of one of his tenets for creating items that are widely shared across the Internet. Namely, the video is designed to – and effectively succeeds in – starting multiple conversations:

Viral videos “add to the conversation” by offering “some sort of emotional aspect or informational takeaway” which makes users more likely to share content with friends, Gauthier added.

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Join Us Tomorrow for a Career Lunch Hangout With BuzzFeed’s Copy Chief

Career-Lunch2Get ready for another Career Lunch Google+ Hangout! Tune in tomorrow at 1 p.m. ET as Mediabistro managing editor Valerie Berrios and MediaJobsDaily editor and career expert Vicki Salemi chat with BuzzFeed’s copy chief, Emmy Favilla, who has taught copy editing at Mediabistro. Favilla will give advice on breaking into copy editing and getting your foot in the door at a site like BuzzFeed.

Favilla was copy chief at Teen Vogue and has worked as a staff and freelance copy editor for Seventeen, Natural Health, Domino, Blender and Lucky.

Join the conversation with your questions and comments on TwitterFacebook or Google+ with the hashtag #mbhangouts.

Is It Time to Rethink Brand Journalism?

Brand-Journalism-ArticleGiven the current state of the journalism industry, not to mention the economy as a whole, many journalists these days are turning to content marketing to supplement their income. Although some journos may cringe at the thought of writing a sponsored post, there are indisputable benefits to writing for a brand.

Not only is the pay generally better than freelance gigs, but writing for various brands can also help you learn about new industries and stretch your writing muscles. Also, it’s one of the few industries that’s actually on the upswing:

Since traditional newsrooms don’t have the resources to support obscure beats, many high-profile reports and columnists are starting their own outfits. Minimal funds mean publishers need creative brands to come in and imagine smart marketing strategies, including producing quality content, in the form of blog posts, social media posts and visual stuff. Enter, you: The freelance journalist with the skills to help publishers help their advertisers promote themselves on a big platform.

For more advice on transitioning into content marketing, read: 7 Reasons to Break Into Brand Journalism.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.

Building a Brand: Key to a More Creative Career

Creative-Career-ArticleTransitioning from corporate life to a freelance career that showcases your creativity can be hugely rewarding. But it takes more than setting up shop at home, sending pitches and cranking out articles.

Freelance writers have to remember that being self-employed means they are their own brand. And cultivating a positive reputation through proven results is key to getting noticed in such a crowded field:

Dawn Papandrea, a writer from Staten Island, says that being self-employed means you always have homework, so to speak. “Between deadlines, you need to market yourself and pitch for new assignments to ensure that you have a steady flow of work,” she says. “Sometimes, you’ll be inundated, and other times you’ll be slow. It’s important to manage your time well, and be willing to make up some extra hours if you hope to take some time off. You also need to be diligent about bookkeeping, invoicing and other money matters.”

For more advice, including how to vary your sources of income, read: Making the Leap to a Creative Career.

The full version of this article is exclusively available to Mediabistro AvantGuild subscribers. If you’re not a member yet, register now for as little as $55 a year for access to hundreds of articles like this one, discounts on Mediabistro seminars and workshops, and all sorts of other bonuses.