Let’s Talk Careers is a series where I interview people on their career journey and ask them for tips and tricks that can help YOU land your dream job. In this week’s edition, lead creative writer of Cleo Social Inc and and freelance writer Anastasia Barbuzzi, shares how you can get started freelance writing and how you can get your name published in magazines.
When she was little girl she used to print out her very own newspaper called “Stas Report” and deliver it her parents in time for their morning coffee. She became fond of print magazines early on, particularly fashion magazines. Reporting and writing was something she could picture herself pursing so it felt natural for her to study journalism in university.
After graduating Ryerson University now called Toronto Metropolitan University she interned at Fashion Magazine and started freelance writing for various publications. She landed a role as Digital Editor role at STYLE Canada in 2021, was a lifestyle and shopping writer for Yahoo Canada, and later joined Honest Brand Reviews a the Managing Editor. While working Barbuzzi continued to write for various publications like VITA Daily, Mode Show News, Style Democracy, Edit Seven, YogiApproved, and Fitt (Detroit).
Alongside freelance writing, she now works as lead creative writer of Cleo Social Inc where she is responsible for writing copy for social media clients, blogs and more. In 2020, she started her own podcast called $HMONEY Radio. $HMONEY Radio is an inclusive space for women to learn about financial literacy in a fun approachable manner.
I had the pleasure of being Barbuzzi’s intern while she was the Digital Editor at STYLE Canada. She taught me a lot throughout my internship and continues to be a mentor for me. She’s given me advice on freelance writing and kept me motivated during the job-hunting process. Her advice helped me immensely so I asked her if she could share some freelance writing advice with my readers who want their name published in a magazine.
In what ways did Ryerson (now TMU) not prepare you for pursuing a career as a journalist?
AB: Good question! Although Ryerson (now known as TMU) has an awesome, reputable journalism program, there are some things I wish we focused more on (and I know my graduating class would agree). A lot of us get our start freelancing which is great, but it can be very difficult to reach the publications you want to at first, not to mention get a byline published.
I would say that Ryerson did not prepare me for “going out on my own” in that way per say, but if you’re consistent, do your research, learn how to tailor your pitches, and track down who to talk to, you get better at successfully pitching.
I would also say that Ryerson did not fully prepare me for some of the disappointments you’ll face from this “dreamy” industry as well, but everyone deals with those things differently and I don’t blame the school for not being able to hold everyone’s hand, haha. Your professors will warn you though!
You have written for several different publications. Can you give advice on how to start freelance writing?
AB: I think one of the most important things you can do as a writer is to be a reader. Before you can start freelance writing, I think it’s imperative that you read the publications you want to write for and pay attention to the bylines they publish.
From there, I recommend thinking up storylines that those publications would want to publish and conceptualize headlines that might grab their attention and interest them. I still practice doing this!
Only from there– and after supporting your pitch with appropriate research– do I think you should approach a publication with an idea. When it comes to “starting to freelance”, you really just need to start somewhere… so I hope the steps I described here were helpful!
What’s something writers should keep in mind pitching to editors?
AB: Know exactly who you’re talking to. Do your homework. It’s fairly easy nowadays!
Also, be different. Research whatever idea you’re pitching them and spin it on its head. Make it something they (most likely) haven’t heard before.
Do you think it’s harder to get a job at publications considering more print magazines are closing down?
AB: I think it can be, but maybe it depends on where you’re looking. It’s much easier to begin working outside of an “office” or “company” in the online world nowadays, and that’s partly due to the fact that you’re right– not as many print mags are actively printing anymore. They’re keeping things digital.
I think that if you do want a magazine job in general, it’s always important to validate what you can bring to the table that’s different from anyone else. Also, if there are areas or gaps where you think existing editors or personnel could need help, sell yourself!
Basically, be observant of what’s going on around you. One of my first cracks at working under a director at a magazine was after I saw how overwhelmed they were with their work. I followed up with them after I had completed my internship there. I offered my help, suggested what I could do, and things kind of took off from there. I really wanted to stay in the office, haha. So, pitch yourself if you think the opportunity is there!
What’s one thing you’ve learned being a manager?
AB: Hard to give one answer here… so here’s five:
- Make sure people feel comfortable and supported
- Communication is key
- Manage your time wisely
- Allow yourself to be completely unavailable to work matters when you’re offline (for your own sanity)
- Sleep and rest are essential to your productivity. Make these things a priority and take care of yourself. Sometimes, long work hours are necessary to get the job done but let’s stop glorifying them.
What’s the best piece of career advice that was ever given to you?
AB This is a toughy! Here are a few of my favourites:
- Keep pushing. Be consistent. Something good will come from you following an instinct or a passion. Keep working!
- Be honest with yourself.
- Everything is going to be ok. (Thanks, Dad.)
- Do what you love.
If you want to write for a magazine check out the previous article in the Let’s Talk Career series where Yahoo Canada’s Lifestyle Editor Shares Kate Mendonca, shares advice on how to pitch article ideas to magazines.