How-to Become a beauty editor
'Break into beauty' and work from anywhere!
I set out on a journey to become a (remote) beauty editor from Chicago about five years ago. I had just given birth to my second son and was severely sleep deprived. I had zero connections and no spare time to speak of, but the timing couldn't have been more perfect. Since most opportunities lay outside 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 work in my favor. I worked with what I had and figured I could prove myself if given the chance. These are the six steps I took to grow my career in content creation. When I first started, there wasn't any kind of 'breaking into beauty guide' so I hope you find this post helpful.
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I realized early on that pitching myself was going to be the best tactic to get the needle moving. Do 'the ask' and don't overthink was my motto. I've had some really crazy (amazing) stuff happen because I've never let distance serve as a barrier, and I have always followed my instincts.
Don't believe me? Here's some pretty wild proof: I somehow got Jennifer Lopez's dad to call my mom about a tentative project; I 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. All crazy. All true. And yes, meeting Beyonce is every magical thing you'd expect it to be.
Be ballsy. If you fall, at least you took the first step! Cool opportunities are often a mixture of luck and timing. The most rewarding ones, however, are often generated out of thin air. Opportunities don't appear unless you put yourself out there. I've often admired Sara Blakely for that simple fact. Sara did her research, created something from nothing, and didn't take no for an answer. Not knowing how to proceed was her bliss in making things happen. This underlying passion is pretty universal. Believe in yourself and show your worth so others can see your value.
No.1 | 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. I knew I probably wasn't going to be moving to New York so I just kept the desire to myself. Don't make that same mistake. Always be vocal about your dreams. I won't go into my personal story just yet (I'll save that juicy scoop for another day or ideally a podcast), but I will say that it is possible to become whatever you want, from wherever you are. Remove the mind block of time and space. Don't ever believe the lie that you're starting at a disadvantage.
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 on what you'd like to write about. Then graph a start, middle, and end to those pieces of content. Screenshot the names of beauty editors you admire in magazines and online beauty journals and 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 that 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 a cinch. Start an Instagram page, create a Wordpress or Squarespace site. Get cracking. No excuses. Done is better than perfect (thanks, Jenna Kutcher!). Learn the basics of the skill sets you need to get started and 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'd 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 or solve a problem (i.e., how to strengthen your hair after childbirth), interview beauty game-changers, create a list on beauty gadgets that actually make a difference, etc.
no. 2 | Nitch Down (sorta).
Pick a beauty skill that comes naturally. I've always been really good at hair so I leveraged that talent to break into the beauty industry. More importantly, I used my passion for art-direction, my background in psychology and PR, and the fact that I'm a good sleuth, to produce original content within the hair space. In the beginning, double down on what comes easiest and is most inherent to you. Work with your skill-sets 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! Hair became my excuse to develop a pretty, visual story. That's why I wanted to work in beauty. I saw the visual story and wanted to art direct. Everything else was secondary to me. The lesson here is to 'micro' down your focus to deliver 'macro' results."
- Maritza Buelvas
So for your first order of 'beauty business': Pick a topic that comes 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 it in the biggest way you can. Don't just throw up the ordinary. Solve a problem. Become a resource, showcase your talents in the beauty space. Provide insight into a topic on a greater level. The point is to have your 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, then mix in one or two related passions and meld them together. I got started by combining my passion for hair with my ability to connect with others and my love for conceptualization. For example, you may love applying eyeshadow and also have a talent for illustration. Combine the two and create whimsical sketches all about eye art. Think outside the box, niche down, and expand from there.
No. 3 | keep a log (or a blog).
Create simply because you have the nagging desire to do so. If you're waking up in the middle of the night because you already see the story before you've created it—make it happen. This was me years ago. I hadn't slept for a solid 9 months post-second baby when I took off to LA for a weekend to do a photo shoot because I needed that creative outlet (in the midst of my delirium). If the passion is there, you'll find a way to make things happen, and that passion will produce a career.
Honestly speaking, I think it's hilarious my brand identity in the beauty space is under the umbrella Beauty For Bloggers since I haven't personally blogged that much. 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 on a national level to some degree.
Blog or not, focus on maintaining an active portfolio so you can begin pitching your capabilities right out the gate.
No. 4 | pitch yourself.
Once you've produced work you're proud of, direct editors to your portfolio (or at least a zip folder) and pitch the story. Become a resource an online outlet. Help meet a deadline on behalf of an editor by offering a trusted lead or suggest topics you can write about. Just make the connection and introduce yourself. If the opportunity and reach are large enough, say yes to unpaid work. Ask for social shares as currency 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. Focus on getting published.
No. 5 | 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 social media. DM's are a shot in the dark sometimes, so say something thoughtful in an IG post or simply send an email offering to be of service. Ask, "How can I help you?!"
Unless you're seeking a mentor, your role is to be a reliable resource. Once that relationship has been developed, you can expand on the ask.
Don't think because an email hasn't been addressed that you're not being heard. I've had amazing women circle back (or do the initial reach out) because I've proved myself as a resource. Make it known that your adorable-self exists in a thoughtful way and offer assistance.
No. 6 | Connect & Collaborate.
Reach out to like-minded experts in your field, or fellow entrepreneurs who are wanting to get their work out there. There are many women (and men) who place value on collaboration over competition. These connections are gold. Value them and make sure they receive proper credit. Never undervalue what a collaborator brings to the table.
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. Thank you to my fellow collaborators, friends, and clients. Dreams are only 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.