Personal/Career – My First Time Getting Paid to Write

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I have always thought of myself as a writer.  Maybe not the best writer, and definitely more handy with non-fiction pieces, but all of that is part of why I started writing this blog.  Some of the most common advice for new writers out there in how to become better writers is to “write every day”.  Hence, writing (nearly) every day last year in a challenge to myself.  I’m happy to say I passed, and while that doesn’t automatically gain me entrance to any sort of writerly secrets, it’s nice to know I can do it.

But up until now, it feels like I’ve been mostly writing for myself and for close family and friends.  I am pretty sure that a few of my posts have hit the right combination of google keywords to appear in the search results for things like the Trolls movie, or that brussels sprouts dip recipe, but mostly, it’s you and me guys.  I natter on about whatever I have going on, and you all enjoy it, or at least I hope you do.  You’re so quiet sometimes it’s hard to know!  But recently, the writing for myself things changed.

That’s right – I’ve cheated on you.  I wrote for another blog.  And not just that, a blog that uses its content to make money, and thus pays its writers.  Don’t worry – it’s not the kind that pays by the view, so you only need to go read my article if you’re genuinely interested.  I don’t see the stats.  I have no way of knowing if I’m a moderate success or a another drop of information in the internet bucket.

None of that is the point.  The point is that I am an avid reader of The Billfold, which is a blog about money and personal finance.  I’ve been reading for a few years now, and ever since they started taking pitches on a monthly topic, I have been curious.  I wrote a pitch for the topic “Halfway” about the costs of having a friend living halfway around the world, but forgot that a month or so earlier someone had written on a similar topic, so was denied.  But the pass was very friendly, and did encourage me to try again with future calls for stories, so I waited.

When a call went out on the topic of “Careers”, I thought an article about the pros and cons of being a federal employee might be interesting.  You could have knocked me over with a feather when a few days later I got a response saying they were interested, and could I reframe it as “how I became X” since they would be running a whole series of them?  I think I hyperventilated on our sofa on a Friday night – you know, the adult thing to do.  So I rewrote, and then…waited.

And waited, and waited, and waited.  And thought I had been forgotten, or was ghosted because the article wasn’t as good or interesting or rewritten in such a way that would be relevant for readers or that I was just awkward and a terrible writer, and so I just gave it up.  Whatever, friends – a nice try, there would be other opportunities.  I considered pitching something for the “Parents” month, and then didn’t because of reasons that were probably privacy related.  Because I have fewer issues writing about my own personal journey and thoughts, but I don’t want to overstep with lives that are not my own who have not necessarily agreed to the situation in advance.  It may have also been the “am I good enough to write in a public space?” thought as well.

But then, a week and a half ago, I got the email – they had saved up the series of articles waiting for a good week to run them all, and the week had come.  My article would be published.  I would be paid.  My name would appear as a byline somewhere other than on my own personal website.  It was thrilling.  And the best part is that when it was published, I didn’t feel immediately regretful or ashamed.  Commentors have been interested, and engaged in relevant discussion about alternate (read: non-USA Jobs) ways to gain entry to Federal employment, which is good to hear, because I always felt like I somehow snuck in to my first position.  I guess there are more of us who got in to the government in non-standard ways, and it’s nice to see, and to not feel alone.

So – that’s it.  I’m excited.  There’s more Maggie Keller content out in the world on a slightly different topic than you’d see here, and I’m proud to share it.  I don’t think this is my last time pitching articles for other blogs, but it’ll be interesting to see how that pans out in the future.  I am pleased that I can now add to my personal life checklist that I’ve been/will be paid for my writing.  Because I think that makes me a writer.

Details: How I Got This Job: Federal Librarian, by ME!, over on The Billfold

2 Comment

  1. Nicole Holstein says: Reply

    Congratulations!!! That is definitely a personal accomplishment, no matter what the stats! Getting paid for your thoughts and words is kind of the dream. Glad they picked up your piece!

    I never knew about Billfold, but they look like an interesting blog. How did you find out about the pitch option, and how did you go about it? It sounds like you wrote the entire story first? Or did you just write a summary of what you would say if they chose you?

    1. maggie says: Reply

      Every month or so, Nicole (the editor) writes a post with what the theme of the month is and puts out a call for pitches.

      I’d never pitched before, but basically wrote her a quick outline of what I was thinking the post would be. Then she said yes, and I wrote a draft, had the boy look at it, sent her the full draft, and there were light edits before it was finally published.

      The Billfold is definitely a fascinating blog. Good mix of money/PF news, and interesting stories from people.

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