In early February, I became a freelance writer/blogger for the entertainment website Starpulse. No, it’s not The New York Times or Smithsonian magazine. Heck, it’s not even Entertainment Weekly. But I like it. And working full-time as an editorial assistant of a community newspaper where I proofread and copy edit press releases for publication as well as confirm letters to the editor, it’s nice to actually write an article once or twice a week. Plus it gives me an excuse to keep up with pop culture. As if I needed one before.
Unfortunately, I don’t get paid for writing for Starpulse. Yeah. Go ahead. Call me crazy. Yes, I admit that I hesitated to write for the website when I found out I wasn’t going to be compensated, given current economic conditions. But since I want to be a pop culture journalist when I grow up, this seemed like the ideal platform for me.
However, some younger journalists don’t see freelancing for websites like Starpulse as a means to further their career. My friend, colleague and Cincinnati-based music journalist Mildred Fallen briefly wrote for Examiner.com, a blog-like site that operates a network of hyperlocal news websites where writers and journalists can share information (and get paid for it, if they get enough web hits) on what’s going on in their city. Here’s what she said, in an email, about writing for Examiner:
(It) all depends on what you want from it, and where you already are in your career. In my experience, writing for Examiner was brief. I knew it wasn’t going to yield any returns money-wise that would make a difference to my pocket so I used it as a way to continue being productive while searching for full-time employment. Eventually, I started working full-time again, which whittled my free time down to almost none. Overall, it didn’t necessarily improve my writing career, but I think the visibility of the Internet helped me reach a wider readership and there’s also complete autonomy of what you publish. (Great point! OK, back to what she said.) And publishing something regularly helped me not be so depressed about not having a job in my field. Also, it was handy to learn social network marketing tools such as using SEO keywords to appear in more Google searches, and interesting to know exactly how many hits my pieces were getting each day. You also get immediate feedback if people comment. You definitely have to be hustling outside of writing for sites like these to be able to gauge if it’s worth it – like it’s best used as a supplement to broaden your portfolio. Now, I just use it as a link employers can access to see a few clips in a hurry without downloading a PDF or an attachment.
Writing for Starpulse is new to me. So while I can’t quite yet say that it’s helping my career, it definitely isn’t hurting. I get to write on a topic I love, plus I’m getting my name “out there”, which is good for any journalist, young or old.
And now for the shameless plug: Check out my articles on Starpulse.
What do you think? Do you feel that websites like Examiner.com and About.com (where you eventually get paid for writing) and even Starpulse.com help younger journalists in their careers? Is it worth it, or just a waste of time?