How To Begin Freelance Fashion Writing Without A Journalism Degree
The #WFH culture and freelancing is a match made in heaven, especially when it comes to writing. Be it from the comfort of your favourite sofa, the breezy balcony or a good-old desk – pretty much any corner of your home will suffice to carry out this particular activity. And that’s exactly what I spent the latter half of 2020 doing, typing away and filling every blank word document with a story. Slowly but surely, these stories found its way into the inbox of various editors of Indian publications in the form of short pitches. Post the numerous self-doubts, writing blocks and mini-breakdowns, I worked on developing an ideal flow for penning down exciting fashion features.
From working on an exclusive story for Hermès’ new Roulis Eperon d’or handbag to covering senior style sensations that are defying ageism – I explored a spectrum of different topics and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of doing so. I contributed to some of my favourite Indian publications such as Verve, Lifestyle Asia India and The Voice of Fashion – improving my writing with each piece of feedback I received.
Having no prior education in journalism or communications doesn’t equal to no opportunities in freelance writing. A creative mind and mastering the art of writing a good pitch is all you need. Below is a non-exhaustive guide to freelance fashion writing that draws from my journey so far, tailor it as you prefer because this field is anything but definitive!
Identify The Publications You Wish To Write For
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually quite important to narrow down the publications whose content you resonate with. Each one has its niche, and delves into a specific style of writing that may or may not be to your liking.
Some specialize in long-form content such as interviews or opinion pieces and others stick to short, snappy features that requires mere minutes to consume – so take your pick.
Create and Send Across An Engaging Pitch
Keep it simple but informative. Probably sounds easier said than done, but here are some pointers that could help –
Include a potential heading for the feature, an approximate word count estimate, a brief synopsis on what the story will cover and why it would be of interest to the magazine’s readers. Go through their website and ensure that you don’t cover a topic that’s already been published or is somewhat similar to its latest content.
Attach relevant hyperlinks such as the brand’s website, Instagram account, potential images that could go along with the feature or visuals of any specific products mentioned. This makes it much easier for the recipient to make a quick assessment and provide feedback, as opposed to doing manual research for the same.
Do Your Research
The pitch is ready, what’s next? Reach out to relevant contacts at the chosen publication via email. This step requires thorough research and a general understanding of various positions within a magazine. For example, a fashion-focused pitch should be sent to the Fashion Features Editor, as opposed to anyone within the beauty team or fashion assistants.
When it comes to zeroing down on the exact email address of the Editor, it’s usually a process of trial and error so keep trying different combinations or hop on to LinkedIn for leads.
Go The Extra Mile
Whilst a great pitch undoubtedly does half the job, the rest depends on how you deliver it. Introduce yourself and your previous work by attaching a CV/writing samples. Mention what interests you about that particular magazine and how you wish to contribute. Editors look for dedication and passion in freelancers, demonstrate these qualities in the contents of your email rather than simply stating it.
An ideal amount of time to wait before sending across a follow-up email is 7-10 days, chances are that your pitch is lost in the receiver’s sea of emails. The pick-me-up it needs is a gentle reminder from your end that is well-timed and concise.
Last but not the least, don’t lose hope upon not getting a response. It takes time to create a presence in any field, especially in the freelancing universe, so keep at it despite the initial inactivity that may occur. On a different note, here’s wishing you a Happy New Year! Stay tuned for all the content that’s coming your way in 2021.
Corset – thrifted from @yoursslovingly
Skirt – Forever 21
Turtleneck – Zara
Earrings and Bag – ASOS
Boots – Zara
Shot by Murali from Chromasutra