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Friday 3 October 2014

Leigh Campbell: 'The Daily Coverage' - My Career Footnotes

I do love a guest blog post, and I do love when someone imparts some very pro info about a question I get asked a lot myself (sometimes directly, sometimes inadvertently, kinda wanting to politely fish for info).

This post is written by Leigh Campbell, on her fantastic new blog page 'The Daily Coverage.'

It's titled 'My Career Footnotes' and it answers all the questions young, keen up and comers have about breaking into the industry - the media and more specifically, beauty industry. It's not all fabulous new lipsticks and nail varnishes and body creams, ya know! (Although yes, that part is pretty fab. And I do know I haven't bought shampoo and conditioner since, oh, about 1997).

If you're a dedicated magazine reader and a bit of a sleuth, you'll know that Leigh is the stunningly beautiful - and very clever - beauty director at Cosmopolitan Australia. I met Leigh when she was at madison magazine, and we were both at a Hewlett Packard event with an 'Amazing Race' style mission to complete, which required speedboats and traipsing around Sydney, sniffing out clues (ah, the things PRs make us do for fun!).

I came across this blog post and loved it - it says much about how hard the industry is to break into, while giving the kind of valuable advice you'd pay for. It's very insightful and has plenty of take-away tips for enthusiastic writers across many publications.

Here is Leigh's column, My Career Footnotes:

At the risk of this post making me appear to be a self-absorbed narcissist, I feel it’s important. Each week, one or two budding beauty writers/journalists/bloggers will contact me to ask for career advice. I respond to them all, as I’d’ve appreciated a response when I was in their shoes. My finger gets tired typing out the same reply on my iPhone on the bus to and from work each week, so here it is, all in one spot. I hope some of you find it useful.
Tertiary education is important, but not essential. I didn’t even finish high school; I dropped out half way through year 11. Attending an academic school that praised the high achievers and paid little mind to the regular kids just trying their best made me feel inadequate and not worthy, so I quit. Having said that, don’t go give up your studies, but know that academia is not a sure fire path to your dream job. Anecdotally, writers I work with have studied media, public relations, journalism, writing and cultural studies, interior design, fashion design, or not at all. My point is, there isn’t one golden degree you need to make it, but you do need skill.
Talent and natural skill will lead you if you nourish what you’re good at. You know those cheesy quotes you see on Instagram along the lines of ‘chase your bliss’? Listen to them. Having a natural ability for writing (or designing, or bricklaying) will stand you in good stead for a successful career. Then, all you have to do is hone the skill. Striving in vain to be an amazing guitarist or doctor because your parents want you to, or because it pays well, will not bring you joy.
Remove the glamour. Particularly if you want to work in magazines (or TV, or any other industry that has an element of allure), you must be realistic about the reason why that industry appeals to you. If it’s the parties and freebies, you will not succeed. For every glamorous post I upload to Instagram and every function I go to, I attend five strategy meetings, production WIPs, and research seminars. Moreover, the ‘freebies’ are not sent to me, they are sent to the magazine I work for as a submission for possible inclusion in an upcoming story. Technically, they remain the property of the brand who sent them and are not mine to do whatever I want with.
Be realistic. This part is always sad for me to break to aspiring beauty editors. There are only 30 or so women in this country with my job, 10 of which work on ‘top-tier’ print titles. It’s an extremely small, difficult industry to break into. While there are infinite lawyers, doctors, and musicians, there are only a handful of ‘beauty editor’ jobs at print publications. This is not meant to deter you, but prepare you for a hard and thankless slog if being a beauty editor is really what you want to do with your life.
There is good news. It’s called the internet. Blogs and websites have exploded in the past 10 years, meaning there’s more avenues than ever before for writers to have a voice, which brings me to my next point;
Write. If you really want to be a beauty writer (or any writer), then get started now. You don’t need a title behind your name to practice your dream. Start a blog so that when the time comes for you to apply for a job, you have a bank of work you can present. This will get you a lot further than a resume. Even if you don’t want to publish it online, at least writesomewhere. I have a half-finished book on my laptop that will probably never see the light of day, but the process of writing it taught me so much (like, I have the attention span of an ant).
Read. I’m forever disappointed by aspiring writers when they confess they don’t read (perezhilton.com does not count). Imagine a wannabe Olympic swimmer who didn’t dive into the pool daily; they’d never make it. Going home at night to watch The Bachelor or Big Brother will not enrich you. Reading will. The best thing I ever did was buy a Kindle. Now, when I’m unsure of a word I tap on it for the definition, and then I make it a goal to try and use that word in the near future (like sesquipedalian, for example).
Understand what a writer does. I am not a makeup artist, nor have I trained in hair or makeup. I’m a writer who writes about beauty. Lots of makeup artists contact me wanting to be a beauty editor, and while their wealth of knowledge in the field far exceeds mine, they may not be able to write. Journalists call on experts for every story they compile (in my case they are hairdressers, makeup artists, dermatologists, etc.), and they are the authorities who give the story substance, while I structure the ‘copy’ (which is writer speak for the words) and pull it all together. Sure, I know a lot about skin and eyeliner now after doing it for so many years, but I am a writer first and foremost. If you’re a makeup artist, consider trying your hand at vlogging. YouTube beauty vloggers don’t do any writing, but visually talk through their skills step-by-step on video. A career in beauty vlogging can be very lucrative (just look at Lauren Curtis; incredibly talented, very down to earth, and humbly successful).
Prepare to be poor. Pay in media is modest; it’s just the nature of the beast. I suggest you only embark on a media career if it is truly where you heart is.
Wear sunscreen.

More about 'The Daily Coverage', straight from Leigh:
Thedailycoverage.com is a lie, because it’s probably going to be updated weekly. Sorry.
It’s the blog belonging to Leigh Campbell, the beauty writer (not the tennis coach from Bendigo), however, it’s not a beauty blog. Sorry.
It’s more a running commentary of things Leigh likes, which includes, but is not limited to: Nutella, fitness, cats, kittens, interiors, recipes, dogs, puppies, sample sales, travel, baby goats, speaking in the third person, and laksa.

So, you can follow Leigh on The Daily Coverage here.

You can follow Leigh on Instagram here.

And on Twitter here.

And of course, each month you can see her pages in Cosmo magazine.

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