Five years ago, magazine editors cringed when online media came up. They weren’t techy. They didn’t get it. They couldn’t understand the point.
But the days where editors can ignore the web are gone. Today, hiring editors will think you’re either lazy or out of the loop if you don’t have basic online skills or can’t use the lingo. In this climate, one of your best chances to land a job is at a website. But how do you do it when you only have print experience? Take your cue from these print-to-web editors.
When JANE folded, one of its editors, Catherine Strawn, decided it was time to hone her web skills. She blogged for JANE’s website and took an online college course. Now, she’s TheFrisky.com’s associate editor.
Before joining People.com, Kate Hogan was an editor for Where NYC. While there, she freelanced for several small Web sites so she could say she had written for the web, knew how to appeal to the online reader, and had a proven interest in online writing.
Christie Griffin, Cosmopolitan.com’s Senior Editor and Ed’s Web Director, hasn’t hired a print-focused freelancer since before the 2007 relaunch of Cosmo’s site. But that last girl got the gig because she showed how excited she was to learn. “You can get web experience by applying for Web jobs and being really enthusiastic about them. Web sites need great writers and editors, too,” Griffin says.
Nervous about making the transition? Check out Ed’s tips for online success.
Stop making excuses.
Do words like HTML, CMS, and SEO make your head spin? Take five minutes to learn what they stand for (hyper text markup language, the code that Web sites are written in; content management system, an application Web sites use to write the pages of their site; search-engine optimization, what Web sites need to do to get more visitors through searches) and why they’re relevant. Download Dreamweaver and design a website. Too tricky? Try Tumblr or Wordpress.
Be genuinely excited.
No, you don’t have to be as peppy as a high school cheerleader, but genuine enthusiasm shows. If you’re attending optional online training sessions, taking notes, and dabbling on your magazine’s blog, you’re off to a good start. To really make a good impression, stop by your favorite Web editor’s office to see if she’s got a minute to share what she learned at the South by Southwest conference or if you can stay late to help with an upcoming project.
Blog and a be a social networker.
It’s not an uncommon for a Web editor to ask an interviewee what their blog is about and what social networking tools they use. Having blogging experience, even if it’s only on your own time, shows an editor that you know what it is and how to do it. Same story with social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter. If you’re an active user of both, you’re more likely to know how to help a Web brand increase their presence via these venues.
Read interesting Web sites.
Hiring editors want to hear about the specific blogs you follow and Web sites you visit, especially the more obscure ones. That’s because a lot of Web site and blog work involves finding things to cover that your competitors haven’t gotten to yet. If your RSS reader is full, you won’t be starting from scratch.
Pitch, pitch, pitch.
Many publications are still unsure of how to approach the Web, which means they’re constantly changing their sites and restructuring their staffs. The poor economic climate also means many sites desperately need reliable freelancers. Send story ideas to your favorite publications and keep an ear out for new sites or blogs being launched.