An open letter to fashion editors looking for “volunteer” writers.

STORY BY Candy Washington

Published: July 31, 2013

Dear Fashion Editors,

We all know that climbing and clawing your way to the top in the fashion industry can be treacherous and you will have to go through dozens of pairs of stilettos and manicures. Not only do we have to look the part, pay our dues, and deal with egos the size of double venti lattes, but we usually only get paid mere pennies to endure to the “privilege” of working in fashion.

So once you’ve paid your dues and built a bit of a name for yourself, why is that fashion editors are still expecting you to work for free to build their brand? Any profession should be a two-way street, where both parties are benefiting from the work that one provides and the incentives that the other gives for the work.

I’ve encountered a countless number of fashion editors (usually online) expecting people to work for free and then on top of that be demanding and overbearing. For example, texting a potential writer with an aggressive tone over 10 times in a row about an assignment that she never agreed to write and on a topic that she doesn’t cover when you are not paying her – not a good look.

Fashion Writers

Why do you feel entitled that people should work for free when they are helping to build your brand and you are giving them nothing in return? But fret not my thrifty fashion editors, read below for my tips on to get free work the right way:

Seek out interns and students: They are still at the level of building up their resume, name, and credentials, and understand that the cost of entry into the industry is working for free. You can even offer school credit in return for their writing.

Be flexible: Fashion writers, especially freelance, are usually juggling multiple assignments and projects at a time. If you aren’t paying them for their time then be flexible to their schedules and try to take on a lot of writers to ensure a consistent flow of content.

A little goes a long way: I get it. Money doesn’t grow on trees, especially in the fashion industry. So if you truly can’t afford to pay your writers, give them small tokens of appreciation. Give them a $20 Starbucks card at the end of the month or treat them to a dinner to show that you appreciate your efforts. Can’t even afford that? Get them invites to cool parties and events that they can cover for your site – two birds, one stone.

Be able to add value to their brand as well: Make sure your site is the best it can be, so your writers can be brand ambassadors for your site rather than just writers. Promote and highlight your writers through your social media channels – the writers themselves, not just the articles they write for you. Be sure to include writers’ bios on the site as well.

So that, is that.



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