Since I write about pop-culture-y things for a living, one question I hear on a weekly basis – without fail – is “You have the best job! That’s so fun! You are so lucky! How do I get a job writing about comics/movies/TV/games/whatever?” A valid question, I suppose, but one that often irks me simply because of the implied notion that because it’s fun it is therefore easy, or that there is some amount of luck involved. It isn’t and there’s not.
Because just like anything else, doing what you want to do as a paid job takes the same qualities as any other career path in life: passion, hard work, dedication, and an impossibly huge appetite that you will go to the ends of the Earth to satisfy even when you know it will remain forever unfulfilled. But you’ll try anyway.
So how does this pertain to you, the employer? If you’re looking for the right freelancer to fill a certain role at your website, I urge you to look at the fresh new voices within your own communities or industries to fill that void. At IGN, a bulk of my most trusted freelancers were put in front of my eyes because of the work they were doing within IGN’s blog network or at their own private blogs or on sites that are more or less unknown. These were people I’d seen writing of their own volition — passionately and well — about the things they love. Experience, in my opinion, is less important than passion.
If you’re willing, as an employer, to be a guide to someone that has the passion, skill, and dedication to the kind of work you’re offering – work that they’re already doing on their own because they love it – then pulling from this field of fresh talent will be rewarding not only for the freelancer but for you as well.
Accumulating veteran voices is just as sound a tactic for improving the content of your site – which I’ve also done, to great success – but helping the more inexperienced writers blossom is an incomparable experience for yourself in a managerial role that will be hugely beneficial to you in future positions, assuming you too strive to climb upwards. Curating veteran writers is just fine from a content perspective, but facilitating the development of a new one can be innovative for both your content and your strengths as an employer.
However, don’t mistake inexperience for incompetence. There’s a very clear distinction between a passionate writer with no experience and a passionate fan with no grasp on language. As an employer of fresh voices, it’s your job to help guide the passionate writer with little professional experience through the ins and outs of freelancing for your outlet, not to teach them how to write. You are an employer, not a professor.
Passion might be greater than experience, but knowing the basics of the craft is essential before one even considers job hunting. As important as it is to your job to recognize new writers that are ready for the next step, it’s equally important to recognize the new writers that think they’re ready.
Since you’re reading this and have achieved a position where you are able to hire people, I’m going to assume you’re goal oriented and have, thus far, achieved the things you’ve set out to achieve in your career. I’m also going to assume that there were mentors and/or employers that assisted you on your way. Hiring the right freelancer is another way to pay it forward; to help a like-minded but inexperienced freelancer reach the next rung of their ladder while simultaneously helping to improve your own personal skillset.
Joey Esposito is a Senior Editor at IGN.com. He lives in Los Angeles with his cat Reebo and writes comic books.
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