I was so flattered that Reese from Yes Supply Co. interviewed me recently! I hope you like it!
I found Elana when she reached out to me to chat about yes supply co. and ways that we could work together. Looking at her website that pulls in over 50,000 views a month, plus has a growing roster of amazingly creative writers, it’s no surprise to see that she’s great at bringing people together and online networking.
Her work has been featured in the likes of the Huffington Post, Refinery 29, and TIME. You maaaay have heard of them once or twice.
I just had to take the opportunity to get to know Elana even better, find out how she balances her blog with a fulfilling career in writing, taking the leap from a snoozer of a job to something you love, and what advice she has for those of us who wish to get promoted on some major publications.
Elana, we’re so glad to have you here. Could you give us a a brief life story of where you started and got to where you are now?
After graduating, I became a paralegal at a prestigious law firm in New York City. Amidst stacks of briefs, blue books and binders, I realized how much I missed writing, creativity, and truly having ownership of a project. While I checked brief citations and compiled velo-bound documents, scheduled posts would go out filled with topics I was passionate about.
When I started my blog, I never imagined that anyone other than my closest friends and family would read it. I certainly never imagined that my blog might help me get hired for new jobs, but that’s exactly what happened. The founder of a women’s career development startup followed my blog posts on Twitter, and after writing about her company a few times as well volunteering for them, I was invited to join their team as the social media manager.
I discovered that I enjoyed writing both short form and long form content and I started writing for them and other publications. My current employer also hired me because of my blog, social media, and freelance writing portfolio. I started a blog as a passion project, but blogging introduced me to a world that I hadn’t even known existed. To my surprise, there were career paths incorporating exactly what I was doing for fun.
Tell me about what you are doing career wise?
I work at a marketing agency that inspires millennials to co-create our world by sharing the values and organizations we believe in. I work with mostly mission-driven social good organizations that are committed to making an impact. I feel fortunate to like the work I do and my colleagues. I look forward to going to work every day. When I’m not writing at work, I’m writing freelance articles and posts for Elana Lyn.
What is your mission? Your long-term goal?
My main mission is to be happy and to continue to pursue the things that make me happy. My career, blog, and freelance writing have evolved so much since I started, and I’m really excited to see how they continue to evolve and grow.
How did you get started?
I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about starting a blog. I am decisive, so once I decided I wanted to start one, I just started. People spend a lot of time thinking about starting a blog, business, or side project but my best advice is to just start. Things can always change as you go!
How do you stay motivated?
Coffee, lots and lots of coffee!
I stay motivated because it means so much to me when I read a comment or get an email saying that a post has helped someone navigate something in her life. I share my experiences, mistakes, and stories — whether it’s a new recipe, preparing for my annual review, reflecting on the hiring process, a fitness review, or how to ask for a raise. My favorite series is my Career Profile series: I share the stories and career paths of women I admire. We can learn so much from like minded, successful, driven women! I think that the Internet has revolutionized mentorship – you no longer need to actually know someone in order to learn from her career path and experiences.
What are three things that someone who wants to start writing online and start their own blog should keep at top of mind?
- Be authentic and develop your own unique “voice.”
- Let your personality shine through! The posts and articles will be more enjoyable to read, and people are more likely to keep coming back, because they feel like they know you.
- Write about what you are passionate about. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing you’ll have a much greater likelihood of success, in part because you enjoy what you do, and in part because you are willing to put in the hours.
You often publish on networking, and I see that you’re an AMAZING online networker! What are some of your tips for someone who plans to start networking with other bloggers, writers, or someone doing something similar to them?
Thank you! If you admire what someone is doing, reach out. The worst that can happen is they don’t respond, but you won’t know if you don’t ask. Some of my favorite Career Profile participants are people I cold emailed because I was inspired by them!
You are published regularly on amazing blogs that help propel women forward like Career Contessa and Levo League. How did you jump-start those relationships?
When I was a paralegal and blogger, the Levo League team followed me on Twitter. I became a brand ambassador before their launch and went above and beyond by writing blog posts and taking on additional responsibilities. I told them I wanted to work for them full-time and luckily they said yes! I am forever grateful because I was able to make the transition from the legal work to editorial and marketing. I’m not sure how I found Career Contessa, but I’m glad I did! I was instantly inspired by their content. I pitched myself as a freelance writer and started writing for them regularly.
You’ve been published on the likes of Huffington Post, Refinery 29 and TIME. This is such an amazing accomplishment. How did you do it?
Thank you! Lots and lots of coffee and hard work.
My best advice for freelance writers is to become a contributing writer at a few publications. Many publications have syndication partnerships so your work may get picked up by other publications. Once you have a number of clips you are proud of, start to pitch other publications.
What are some aspects you typically put into your pitches when sending them out?
I recommend sharing where you’ve been published, a few clips you’re proud of, and a few solid pitches. Make sure that your pitches are aligned with the type of content the site shares and make sure they haven’t published an article like the one you’re pitching.
Here’s an example of a pitch email I send out:
I read [Publication] daily because I love the smart, actionable advice on a wide range of topics. I am a freelance writer. My work has been published on TIME, Fast Company, The Muse, Business Insider, The Huffington Post, Mashable, Refinery 29, Brit + Co and more. For context, here are a few of my favorite pieces: A First-Time Manager’s Guide to Giving Effective Feedback, How to Ask for a Raise: Advice From Influential Business Women, Why It’s Okay to Brag About Yourself, 5 Ways a Side Hustle Can Advance Your Career, 6 Genius Tips for Better Small Talk, How to Find Your Dream Job (When You Don’t Know What You Want), 4 Tips for Juggling a Full-Time Job With Freelance Work, and The First Four Things You Should Do Every Workday. I also have a career advice and lifestyle blog for young professional women.
I’d like to pitch the following stories for [Section] of [Publication]:
What are some productivity tools and apps that keep you organized and focused?
I’m a bit old school, I always carry paper and a pen and jot down to-do lists and blog and article ideas. I also use the notes and reminders apps on my phone and Google Calendar to organize my social life, editorial calendar, and article deadlines.
What was your yes supply moment? To explain this concept, when was a time when everything may have felt like a struggle and you could have given up but you used a power inside to keep pushing forward.
I recently switched jobs. I wasn’t looking for a new job and was happy where I was, but I was approached by a recruiter and the opportunity seemed too good to pass up. One of my favorite quotes is, “Say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” I decided to trust myself, take a risk, and say yes.
I’ve gotten better at saying yes to new experiences this year. It’s tempting to settle and get complacent in the comfortable, but you learn a lot from stepping out of your comfort zone. There is a great chance that you’ll be happier as a result and, even if you aren’t, you have to have the confidence that you can pick yourself up and figure it out.
Photo by Pinsi Lei!