Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Zac Bissonnette speaks to Web Writing class

Magazine Writing student Becca Babin posts today, about blogger and UMass sophomore Zac Bissonnette, who spoke to a joint meeting of Professor Roche's Magazine Writing and Professor Perkins' Writing for the Web classes.

Zac Bissonnette's personal finance blog was picked up by AOL, where he quickly rose up to an editor position. He leveraged his experience to lock in a job at the popular blog, thedailybeast.com.

Not too long after, he signed a book deal with Penguin. Next stop? World domination. He’s accomplished in his career, what many aspiring journalists hope to achieve in a lifetime. The only difference is, he has done it all before age 20.

Zac Bissonnette spoke to two classes of journalism hopefuls today about what it takes to make it as a journalist as print media world adapt to the online world. Like our professors keep telling us, it’s a hell of a lot.

Here are some of Zac’s helpful pointers:

1. Show commitment to your writing, in print, and especially online. If you have a blog, update it as much as possible. If you write for a newspaper, submit as many articles as you can. If you do neither, start now. An online presence can be parlayed into a job at another site or into traditional media, so put yourself out there.

2. Find something you are passionate about and become an expert in it. There are thousands a people who can write about sports, fashion, or politics. Find a niche in your field of interest that makes you unique from the other writers out there. This way, what you have to offer can’t be found anywhere else, which makes you invaluable.

3. Get familiar with freelance writing. Use websites like suite101.com and elance.com and pick up a copy of 2008 Writer’s Market.

Feeling the heat yet? Sitting in that sweltering library classroom I definitely was, both literally and figuratively.

I’m sure many of you, like me, are jonesing for a competitive summer internship, or even more challenging, the dreaded j-o-b, so any addition to the laundry list of things you need to do to get there presses a nerve that sends your heart rate through the roof.

It’s okay. Take a breath. Step back. Zac’s many achievements prove one thing: If a college sophomore can get there, we can too. Take his advice to heart. Find your niche. Brand yourself. Everyone is unique in some way. Now it’s time to capitalize on it.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Zac.

“Don’t complain about how you don’t have time or you don’t have ideas. Find time and find ideas.”

The ball is in your court, people.

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