Hello there. I’m glad you stop by and read my blog!
My name is Quinn Quinn, originally from Vietnam and currently blogging from Norway. In this blog, Become a Magazine Writer, I’d love to share my stories, tips, and experience how I become a magazine writer, without any degree.
Actually, I graduated magna cum laude (Bachelor of Arts) in German Language and Literature, scored my first corporate job as a PR Assistant, moved to Sweden and got my M.Sc. in Communication, and now work as a full-time blogger, freelancer, columnist, and book author.
That’s quite a wild ride, isn’t it?
So yeah, back to the main point, how I scored the first writing gig for a travel magazine in Vietnam (back in 2012) and how YOU can also do the same thing to kick-start your magazine writing career!
How I scored my first writing gig
It all started by network. Simple as.
People tend to underestimate the power of networking, until they figure out it doesn’t work without a strong network. And you know what? All may start with just one single person you know… from another person.
Back in 2007 when I was still a fresh man in university, I got to know a bunch of friends from different faculties since we had to take some general courses together. One of them was a guy from the English class, who later worked as a tour guide before he moved to the States with his family.
Through him, I knew a senior from the Japanese Languages faculty who graduated just a couple of years before us. We quickly got along very well, since she chose Spanish as her second language and I chose Italian.
Obviously Spanish and Italian were not that popular in Vietnam ten years ago, so it was not difficult for us to score scholarships for summer language schools in Spain and Italy later. We both spent three, four months in those countries in our early 20s, enjoying the so-called Mediterranean summer!
However, we didn’t keep any close contact, mainly because of my overwhelming working schedule at that time.
One day, when I was at work (my first PR job), she contacted me via Facebook and asked if she could use my photos taken in Assisi (Italy) for one of her writing for a travel magazine.
Under her name. Without mentioning my name as the photographer. Or anything close to photo licence.
I agreed without thinking twice. Writing gig was not my thing back then, you know. And you know what? It was actually one of the best investments I’ve ever made in my whole career!
She kept asking for photos several times, and I always said yes. One another day, she contacted me again, but this time not to ask for my photos but whether I would like to start writing for a magazine she was working for at that moment!
I was like, what?
Fast forward, I scored the first writing gig just a month later, and it was this one (written in Vietnamese, then translated by their editorial team).
For a total outsider like me, it was a huge thing. I mean having your name on a printed magazine, and your writing, and your photos, and of course I got paid for it. That was cool, man!
After that first time having my articles published, I got more and more articles published on different magazines, including Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Her World, ELLE, and some other local newspaper.
As you can see here, I had no proper education in journalism or writing or anything like that. I also didn’t have any direct contact with the editors from those magazines. Of course I got their contact afterwards, but in the beginning, I had absolutely no idea at all!
What I mean here is that to become a magazine writer should not be too hard to achieve. As long as you can score the first writing gig, things will start to roll in!
Tips to score your first writing gig
Well, since I’ve been in this industry for almost a whopping decade, here are some tips for you to score the first writing gig ever and kick-start your magazine writer dream!
- You need a network to thrive in any work and job out there. So, yes, build up your network BEFORE you can think about starting your career.
- Be nice and humble. As you can see, even when I was asked to contribute my photos for free, I was happy doing that. You’ll never know how far things can go.
- Start small. Don’t ever think about having your first article published on one of the most popular magazines on Earth or something like that. The first thing is to get your name out there, right?
- Don’t be afraid to ask. Whenever I heard about some interesting magazines and know that I can contribute to them, I’ll send emails/chat on Facebook/send DM to figure out THE person I should contact to pitch. It all ended up well!
- Be reliable. By reliable, I mean to (at least) deliver your work on time, make sure your writing is unique (meaning no plagiarism), error-free, etc. Imagine you’ve just scored your first gig ever and you deliver it late without any excuse! Unless you’re an extraordinary writer, keep in mind that the industry is quite a niche. Everybody knows everybody and they will have no problem sharing their thoughts about you with other people.
I hope this blog post is enough for my first post ever on this blog. More on writing tips later.