When I was in my Junior year of college, I was working in the online department of the local Utica, NY newspaper, the Observer-Dispatch. I helped run the online edition of the paper, and I also wrote a weekly column about technology that ran both online and in the print edition.
And while I enjoyed what I was doing–after all, I was a college student working a job in my industry and getting paid–it still wasn’t quite enough. I didn’t just want to write about technology or whatever articles I was assigned for the online edition of the paper.
I wanted to write about what I wanted to write about, which at the time meant fashion.
I was obsessed with fashion. In fact, mid-Junior year I almost quit everything and transferred to a school in NYC to study accessories design.
So what I wanted more than anything at that time, was to write about fashion.
After months of working there, I noticed that once a week the O-D would run a fashion-related article in the entertainment section. Usually it was something chosen from the AP Wire and written by an Arts and Entertainment reporter from USA Today.
One day as I was reading the weekly article, I had a thought: what if I asked the Editor if I could write a fashion article for the paper?
I had no idea if this was even possible. After all, I was just a part-time employee who was still a full-time student. Why would they listen to me?
But I decided to ask anyhow.
I stopped by the O-D Editor’s desk one afternoon when it wasn’t busy and I asked him if I could write an article about jeans for the newspaper. I just asked straight-up him, figuring the worst he could say was ‘no.’
He ended up saying if I wrote something, he would look at it. It wasn’t the ‘yes’ I was hoping for, but it was an opportunity to prove my skills and potentially get a ‘yes’ from him.
I spent the rest of my week interviewing local clothing store owners, asking them all about what jeans were popular for spring and how people were styling them. I felt like a real reporter.
When I got back to work later in the week, I sat down and I wrote the article all about jeans, weaving in quotes from the people I had interviewed, and really trying to put a local spin on it. After I had my 1,500-word feature, I sent it off to the Editor.
Then I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.
A few days later he called me down to his office. I was so proud of what I’d written, I just assumed he was about to tell me ‘yes’ and that he’d love to put it in the newspaper.
But that’s not quite what happened.
First, he told me that I was a strong writer and he liked my style. And then he said, but the article wasn’t right for the main O-D newspaper.
I was disappointed. I really thought it would make more sense to have a weekly fashion article by someone local, and not just keep using an AP Wire story every time. But the Editor didn’t agree.
As I turned to leave his office, he called me back and gave me some news I wasn’t expecting.
He said he really did like my writing style and thought that my article would be a better fit for Fusion, the O-D’s weekly entertainment supplement that had just launched a few months prior.
He introduced me to the Editor of Fusion, and she loved my article and asked me if I’d be willing to write one about fall fashion.
I ended up writing the article AND then they asked me to model some fall fashion looks so we had images to go with the article. Which somehow landed me on the front cover of Fusion, wearing sunglasses and a fuzzy scarf.
Crazily enough, after the article ran, she came back to me, along with one of my bosses who was also involved with Fusion, and they asked me if I’d be interested in writing one article a week for them. (On top of the weekly technology column I was already doing for the O-D.)
Every week for the next year I wrote about fashion and food and crafts and whatever else they asked me to write about. I even did four weeks worth of hands-on experiments where I tried different things, like setting up my own WiFi network and making decorative crafts, and wrote about my experiences.
I had found a way to get paid to do what I really wanted to be doing: writing about arts and entertainment topics.
My bravery was rewarded—if I hadn’t asked the Editor if I could write that article about jeans, none of it would’ve happened.
As my mom would always say, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
The truth is there is ALWAYS a way to get paid to do what you love to do. Whether that’s by starting your own business or just finding a way to incorporate more of what you love doing into the job you’re already getting paid to do.
And with the internet and technology growing as rapidly as is it, there’s literally nothing you can’t get paid to do these days. The possibilities to do what you love and make money are ENDLESS in the time-space reality that we currently live in.
You just have to know what you love to do, figure out a way to get paid to do it, and then be brave.
Dream life or bust,