A case study
During my master’s degree, I took up an unpaid internship working for a magazine in Liverpool (okay, I was on the dole and the Job Centre made me do it). During this time I gained research and interviewing skills along with the opportunity to interview celebrities and high profile individuals, including the dressmaker off My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding. Don’t be jealous.
That magazine immediately went bust, but I soon spotted a job on freelancing platform People Per Hour. Contributing to another Liverpool freebie magazine, I first wrote about the fire dancing community I had been a part of. I quickly realised, however, that I was more interested in individuals’ stories, so my next piece profiled a young social influencer who’d built a career for herself out of nothing.
That magazine also went bust, which didn’t bode well for my journalistic career. Maybe I was really bad at this?
I returned home to North Wales to commence my quarter-life crisis, taking a job as a classroom assistant at a college which taught animal care. After a day surrounded by animals I was allergic to, including a goat named Donna (who I called Donna Kebab), I would return home and stare at the walls.
Don’t feel sad for me – they weren’t bare walls. I’ve always loved art and chose to cover the walls with illustrations by Welsh golden girl Niki Pilkington. I knew very little about art, but as a young, feminist Welsh female, the themes in her work really spoke to me.
So I began writing, with the vague self-assurance that someone somewhere would want to hear my opinion. After all, I had a portfolio now!
Now. Where to publish it?
I kept my eyes peeled for freebie magazine and found one which claimed to cover a diverse range of topics showcasing the best of what North Wales had to offer. I looked up the editor’s name, then devised this email:
Dear Ms Hamilton,
Thanks to university debts and the skyrocketing cost of owning a home, buying art isn’t a luxury that features highly, if at all, on the average millennial’s agenda. That was until North Wales native Niki Pilkington burst onto the scene.
Please find attached my piece From Pen Llŷn to Palm Springs: the Young Welsh Illustrator Living the American Dream, along with relevant images.
The editor loved the idea – I was in. But what would my next pitch be about? As a former burlesque dancer, I had lots of performers connected to my Facebook account. I happened to notice that a dancer I really admired named Cece Sinclair had been raised in North Wales. I also knew she had used burlesque as a focus after the death of her father when crippling depression hit. Suddenly I had a story and named the piece The Rise of Bangor’s Burlesque Bombshell.
Now that I’d built up more confidence, I began looking into other regionals and came across one covering the Llŷn Peninsula, a county within North Wales. This immediately reminded me of Niki Pilkington, who was raised in the area. I tweaked that original piece for the magazine’s audience, and hey presto, I sold it again and was on another editor’s radar!
What I’m saying is, start small. As desirable as the Cosmopolitans and the Rolling Stones of the magazine world are, take a look closer to home first – there are plenty of stories just waiting to be told.
Lowri is a freelance writer and burlesque performer based on the Isle of Anglesey. Although sometimes she gets to write about exciting topics like designer children’s wear (FORTY QUID FOR A HAT?!), more often than not it’s DIY – not to brag, but she has become quite the expert on combi-boilers and laminate flooring.
You can follow Lowri on her personal blog here.