Good advice. It might be a while before I have anything I'd want to add--longer still before I have anything I'd want on a permanent resume--but this is still useful information. I'm saving it to my collection of resources.
This is a really helpful article and something I've never thought of before. I've been writing poetry on dA for years, and I constantly get friends and/or family members (in both my real and virtual lives) asking me "why don't you write for money?" or "when are you going to put that poetry book together?" I never really know what to say because my stuff is essentially up on the net for free.
I don't disagree that any writing experience, especially in a critique-based community like (some parts of) the dA literature community, is valuable to a writer--it does "hone your craft" and usually contributes to your growth as a writer. But I don't think I necessarily agree that it belongs on your resume outside of a "personal interests" section (which I don't include on my resume anyways).
I guess it very strongly depends on exactly what kind of work or position you're applying to, but I can't think of a situation where I would feel that it's appropriate to speak about my internet writing career as actual experience. You can take a look at my deviantART page--I have many lovely friends who all like my work to some extent, but it's difficult to say that that proves my worth as an author.
You've written in another article that "you need to be successful to be successful", and that's true. While I'm absolutely thrilled to have deviantART watchers, employers and especially publishers see these things in terms of cold, hard numbers--and I hate to say it like this, but the numbers of the average person reading this article will not be significant.
Your advice here could be good for someone with twenty-thousand followers, but not for two hundred or even two thousand, and I think that's misleading. Looking at the examples you gave, and thinking from the perspective of an agent or editor, I'm thinking "that's nice..." and not much else.
I apologize if my tone was harsh; I'm in a bit of a hurry and trying to word my sentiments properly is proving to be difficult. But I hope you understand some of the concerns I have about this article.
Editors and employers aren't automatons - they are human beings. When you appeal to them at a human level and tell a story about how your writing accomplished its intended purpose, that is by definition a success.
I've leveraged articles I've written with less than a hundred hits into excellent promotion by ensuring it got into the right hands. Ten thousand hits on a piece that no one cares about isn't as valuable as a piece that's been seen by a dozen of the right people. Editors and employers know this. That's what you have to keep in mind when adding your unpaid practice to your resume or portfolio.
Work the definition of success in your favor by being clear about the use and audience of each piece of work, and use concise language when adding it to your portfolio. Ambiguity in a professional portfolio spells insecurity, and employers can smell it from a mile away.
Editors and employers try very hard and desire very much to not be automatons, but in this economy and in an industry that's already struggling to adapt to modern times, they generally can't help it. It's about love of the craft, yeah, but it's also about money.
So how did you do that? Who were your dozen people? What were you writing about? How did you contact them? How did you prove that they saw it? What did they have to say about it? I ask all these questions because this is your experience, and it doesn't sound like an experience or a set of circumstances that most writers in this dA group can replicate. So, my feeling is that while you are very talented and fortunate, this advice doesn't necessarily apply to truly amateur writers (by amateur I mean "unpaid", not "untalented") who are now trying to break into professional.
I suppose I'm thinking in terms of query letters, in which I would never mention my unpaid work. This is of course because I am not as well-connected as you are, and because my audience consists, again, of wonderful but casual readers. An agent would read it and burst into laughter. "Ten thousand hits on a piece that no one cares about isn't as valuable as a piece that's been seen by a dozen of the right people"--this seems to be in direct counterpoint to your entire article. You didn't clarify that in your article, and that changes the entire tone and audience. It is no longer about the amateur. It's about the professional who already has connections.
My whole response leads to this, a repetition of my earlier point: This is not a completely unsound article. But it is misleading. I actually think you're suggesting something that will hurt the average person's chances at a job. Everyone who's read this is now thinking about putting their writing on their resume, and that kind of terrifies me.
:/ That wasn't precisely my point. A query letter is, in many ways, like a resume--you're demonstrating that you know your stuff, that you deserve to be taken seriously, and that you're bringing something to the table that's worth seeing.
The targets of a query letter and of a resume are, in many ways, the same. Their mindsets will be similar and, if they're in the writing business, very similar.
If an agent wouldn't buy it, neither would an employer.
I used my articles for a (then) nobody site which earned me mere pennies per month as leverage into freelance work when I had literally no connections - I had just moved to a new city and knew no one. If you already have connections, you don't need this advice.
If you're talking about a staff position as an editor for Forbes, yeah. Dumb idea. You aren't going to get in without a major degree and a ton of paid work, but those editors won't even remember your name if you tried to pull such a stunt. There's nothing to be afraid of.
But when you're starting out like I was, early enough that you have almost nothing to make yourself stand out from the literal ocean of resumes that look almost exactly alike, hiring managers will not remember you unless you add something special and personal that you've done with your work. Either that or they pick someone randomly - in which case it doesn't matter, you have the same chance as anyone else.
To answer the other questions - I was writing about philosophy, of all things, and got a position with an internet startup focused on event planning. I contacted them by volunteering at a nonprofit they supported, so they saw me working in action. They asked for my credentials, I gave them, and they offered a 3-month temporary position that led into a five-year relationship.
If you don't have the skills to back it up, this obviously won't work out in the long term. But that's true of any method of getting your foot in the door if you can't do the job. At the level where you need advice like this, which is entry-level writing gigs, this stuff works. I write resumes for people all the time and it works very well.
Okay, I can see that this conversation isn't worth continuing much further. I don't disagree with the points behind much of what you're saying here. But I don't think your article tells the whole story, and I'm simply questioning whether it's responsible to make it sound as if you can get away with talking about your amateur writing career on dA</a> and have it count as real experience. Because it looks to me like that's who your audience is here: amateurs looking to break into professional.
I just think that your advice could be mores specific about a) what type of "writing gig"(local interest magazine? website copy for startups? car manuals?), b) exactly what type of writing experience "counts" (fanfiction? nonfiction essays? school papers? anything and everything that got you a lot of views/favorites?), and c) exactly what kind of "social proof" or "buzz" counts (a review in a local newspaper? a good review on deviantART? 100 followers on dA? 500? 1,000? a good review from your mom? x number of hits, favs, or comments?). These things aren't obvious, and I feel that it's important for your readers to know these things to be able to implement your advice.
Love from the internet isn't enough, but you're making it sound as if it is. It can be, perhaps, but you need to clarify how and in what circumstances.
(Also, I've never heard of writing resumes for people. To me, that sounds a good deal like cheating. I'm sure you see it differently, and I don't mean to disparage your work. It's just that if I were looking for a job and knew that a competitor had had their resume written by someone else, I'm certain I would feel a certain sense of injustice.)
Anyways, I wish all your readers luck, and while I'm not necessarily seeing the connection between your advice and your very admirable story of success, I congratulate you on making it work for yourself. Maybe I will see if there are ways to apply it to my own resume.
This is something I'll keep in mind when I'm ready to search for a job. By the time I finish my education, my writing experience will go from only three years to nine years. Thank you for sharing this.
Thank you! If you're looking to publish soon, I'd definitely recommend our group. As it happens, the latest article is about weighing up the pros and cons of the two main publishing paths, namely big houses and indie/self publishing!