How to become a beauty editor
'Break into beauty' and work from anywhere!
Back about four years ago or so, I set on a quest to become a published beauty editor from Chicago. I had just given birth to my second son, was severely sleep deprived, had zero connections, and really no spare time to speak of. Since most opportunities lay outside of The Windy City, I set out on a crazy attempt to pitch myself from my pajamas. I made the lack of being able to put on adult clothes and head out the door whenever I felt like it actually work in my favor. I worked with what I had and I figured if given a chance, I could prove I had the goods. These are the six steps I took to get myself from point A to point B, C, and D.
When I first started, I realized pitching myself was really going to be the best bet to get my work noticed. I thought, "Just do 'the ask' and don't overthink. I've had some really crazy s*** happen in my life because I've never let distance define me, or serve as a barrier. I also believe being uniquely yourself will take you places.
Don't believe me? I somehow got Jennifer Lopez's dad to call my mom about a tentative project; Had Destiny's Child management contact my mom about developing a group sculpture of the girls which lead to meeting Beyonce, Kelly, and Michelle (apparently I know how to pimp my mom); And was inches away from Madonna when I was 14 under the guise of a crazy, random plot twist.
Point is, if you want something be ballsy. Who cares if you fall...at least you took the first step. Sure cool opportunities are often a mix of luck and timing, but the most rewarding ones are those you generate and create yourself from scratch. Opportunities don't just happen unless you put yourself out there. I've often admired Sara Blakely, the creator of Spanx, for that simple fact. Sara did her research, created something from nothing, and didn't take no for an answer. Not knowing how-to exactly do something was her bliss to making things actually happen. I'm no Sara Blakely, but the underling passion is pretty universal. Believe in yourself, trust your instincts, and show your worth so others can see your value.
So before I dive in with 6 helpful pointers, know that these techniques can truly be applied to any goal. When I was starting out there wasn't any kind of 'breaking into beauty guide' so I hope you find this one helpful.
Start before you're ready.
I fell in love with becoming a beauty editor when I opened my first Allure Magazine at the age of 17, but knew I probably wasn't going to be moving to New York so I just kept this desire to myself. For the record, don't ever do this! I won't go into my personal story just yet (I'll save that juicy scoop for another day or ideally a podcast or a book...a girl can dream) but I will say in the here and now that it is possible to become whatever you want from where ever you are. Remove silly mind blocks because they're a huge time suck.
If you believe you can do something and can see yourself doing it, then you have fortitude. If you feel weird calling yourself an expert at something, then call yourself a student and go to bed at night with that on your brain. At the very least, open up your phone's notepad and begin jotting down ideas, questions, and thoughts of what you'd like to write about in beauty. Then graph a start, middle and end to that piece of content. Screenshot the names of beauty editors you admire in magazines and online beauty journals. Introduce yourself. Start a dialogue with them and begin crafting your voice. Figure out what kind of beauty writer you want to be and begin contributing to the world even if it's just on a personal blog. More on that in a moment.
Great people do things before they're ready. - Amy Poehler
Luckily we live in a world where you can get your POV out there in cinch. Start an Instagram page, create a Wordpress or Squarespace site. Get cracking. No excuses. Done is indeed better than perfect (thanks, Jenna Kutcher!). Learn the basics of the skill sets you need to get started and now transfer your thoughts onto a computer. Jot down stories you'd like to see online, but I advise not researching them. Don't be influenced by others. Pretend Pinterest doesn't exist in this instance, because you don't want to feel overwhelmed. Pick three topics you'd like to read about, then write about the one you find most helpful. Speak your influence to the beauty following you expect to grow.
Having trouble getting started? Write to a particular demographic (beauty in your 20's, 30's or 40's), stick to a start-up series (how to strengthen your hair after child birth), interview beauty game-changers, lists on beauty gadgets that actually make a difference. Which brings me to my next piece of advice.
Nitch Down (sorta).
Pick a skill that comes naturally to you and use that to create a lane for yourself in the area you want to work in. For example, I've was always been really good at hair so I leveraged that talent to break into the beauty industry. More importantly however, I used my passion for art directing, my background in PR, and the fact that I'm a pretty darn good sleuth, to produce original content within the hair space to stand-out a bit. In the beginning, double down with what comes easiest and is most inherently you and do that in the biggest way possible. Don't worry about what others are doing. Do things your own way so others can appreciate your originality. This will go a long way!
For example, I wasn't going to just pitch a tutorial. I was going to pitch an experience because I wanted to create and hair was my excuse to create a pretty, visual story. That's why I wanted to work in beauty. I saw the visual story and I wanted to be the one creating it. Everything else was secondary to me. The lesson here is to 'micro' down your focus to deliver 'macro' results.
So for your first order of beauty business: Pick a topic that comes super easy to you, then pick the medium to create a word-based and/or visual story. Develop a step-by-step or an investigative piece, but do that in the best way you can. Don't just throw up the ordinary. Solve a problem. Become a resource, showcase your crazy talents in that beauty space or provide inside into a topic on a greater level. The point is to have this piece go viral as much as possible.
You can expand on your beauty platform later, just start with a niche. Become known for something and then introduce other things you're good at. Pick a talent in beauty space, then mix one or two related passions and meld them together. For example, I got started by combining my passion for hair with my ability to connect others and my love for art direction and conceptualization. You may love applying eyeshadow and also have a talent for illustration, combine the two and create whimsical sketches all about eye art. We've all seen self-applied artistry that we love so use your talents to the think outside the box, niche down, and expand from there.
keep a log (or a blog).
Create simply because you have that nagging desire to do so. Listen, if you're waking up in the middle of the night because you already see the story before you've created it then you just gotta do it. This is what happened when I started. I didn't sleep for a solid 9 months post-second baby, then I took off to LA for a weekend and did a photo shoot because I just needed that creative outlet in the mist of my delirium. Trust me, if the passion is there, you'll find a way to make things happen and that passion will produce a career.
Honestly speaking, I now think it's hilarious my identity in the beauty space is under the umbrella Beauty For Bloggers when I've never formally had a personal blog. I was lucky that my work got picked up really fast so I began writing for others and never had the time to formally "blog" for myself. My objective was always to train so I guess I did that in national way and never looked back.
So for starters, maintain an active portfolio and log all of our experiences and mentions online so you can begin pitching your capabilities right out the gate.
Once you've produced work you're proud of, direct editors to your portfolio (or at least a zip folder) and pitch the story or similar angles you can contribute for them. Again, become a resource. Help meet a deadline on behalf of an editor you admire, provide a quote, offer to connect a trusted lead you have. Just make the connection and introduce yourself. If the opportunity and reach is large enough, say yes to unpaid work. Ask for social shares and use these posts to build your media kit. Become an expert in one or a few beauty arenas and paid work will start rolling in. The point is to get published at first.
They Just Haven't Met You Yet.
If you're having trouble getting noticed by an outlet, go the unconventional route. Reach out to a writer via LinkedIn (this has worked for me) or give a shout out on Instagram. DM's are a shot in the dark sometimes, so say something thoughtful in a IG post or simply send an email offering to be of service and simply introduce yourself. That's the ask...how can I help you?! Unless you're seeking a mentor, you're there to be a reliable resource for them at first. Once that relationship has been developed, you can expand on the ask.
Also, don't think because an email or comment hasn't been addressed that you're intro has fallen on deaf ears. I've had amazing women circle back months later just to say they appreciated my email and now I'm a resource for them or we've initiated a conversation. Make it known that you're adorable self exists in a thoughtful way and offer how you can be of help. They'll let you know how you may fit their current needs. Make good on that current need or learn how you can be of value in the future.
Connect & Collaborate.
Reach out to like-minded experts in their field or fellow entrepreneurs who are wanting to get their work out there. Luckily, there are many women (and men) who place collaboration before competition. These connections are gold. Value them and make sure they receive credit mentions and recognition on your part. Never under value what any of collaborators bring to the table.
To Produce or To Pitch? Which Comes First?!
I feel Off The Gram and That's OK.
If you'd like to see more blog posts like these let me know in the comments below. Feel free to provide topics of interest. I'd love to hear from you!
I dedicate this post to all of the lovely women who have supported me and taken a chance on me. Thank you to my fellow collaborators, friends, clients and those of you who I'll be lucky enough to meet in the future. Dreams are only truly fulfilling when they bring joy and service to others. I hope you find this information useful. Feel free to email me if I can be of assistance.