Tips for Struggling Writers in Chicago

If you have chosen the journalism profession I have good and bad news; the good news is you will love every minute of your job. The bad news? Finding a job is a bitch.

Chicago is the third largest job market for journalists in the country, following New York and Los Angeles. If you want to make it as a writer, you already live in a great city full of awesome opportunities and stories. Of course, these opportunities are limited.

The journalism world is changing, and so is the job market for future journos. Web content coordinator and social media specialist are such positions that did not exist even five years ago. News is turning to the web, which means more content, which means more people to create that content. The bummer is, most of these gigs are free.

One thing you need to understand as an aspiring writer is you will write for free, a lot. The first couple years of your career will be filled with freelancing with no pay. Sound shitty? It is.

The good news, however, as a writer in Chicago, you have unlimited outlets to write for. Want to write about music? Consequence of Sound is a Chicago-based online publication catering to all things music. Want to write about food? Thrillest Chicago is the Buzzfeed of Chicago cuisine staples. Want to write about up and coming businesses in Chicago? CUSP Magazine gives a fresh perspective on Chicago entrepreneurs.

The goal is to fill up your resume and writing portfolio as much as humanly possible. If you don’t have a writing portfolio, WordPress is a great start to create your own blog and showcase your work. And while you’re at it, create a LinkedIn and add anyone and everyone in the Chicago media sphere for simple networking.

If you’re lucky enough to get a paid writing gig, hurray! However, that is not always the case. You will be doing a lot of free writing while serving tables at Lou Malnati’s on the side. This is the life of a writer, take it or leave it.

By freelancing for publications and networking, you are getting your name out there to be recognized in the Chicago journalism industry. Your editors will be thankful and appreciative of your free content contributions, and they will take note of that for future recommendations. You will also improve your skills by writing for different outlets on various topics so when the time comes, you will be an all-around skilled journalist who has been around the block.

A writer’s life is far from glamourous, but I promise you, when you do get paid for your writing, it will be the best feeling in the world. All those articles you wrote for hours for no pay will pay off in that one single paycheck. Because as us writers know, it’s not about the money, it’s about doing what we love (but money is one hell of a perk).

[Via: CUSP Magazine]

About Allison Matyus