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Jay Guevara's Letter To The Striving Journalist

Updated: Feb 16, 2023

Keep going. That's it. That's the article.

Not really. However, the words "keep going" is something I've heard over the years since I started writing for local hip-hop platforms in 2016. I went from covering local Richmond, Virginia acts such as Ceo.wav and Michael Millions to interviewing Juelz Santana on theMSQshop and making press releases for Wale's team end up on The Source Magazine. I have written for platforms in Virginia, California, New York, and even Canada for technically seven years counting my experiences as a technical writer for a clinical research program at VCUHealth. All without a journalism or media communications degree. I went to school for health, exercise science, and community engagement.

This is something I always wanted to do. When you want to do something passionately and live off of it, you have to learn the hobby as a professional. Still keep the fan enthusiasm. Just mature in the field. From 2016-2020, I wrote strictly for Virginia platforms primarily as a fan. There's nothing wrong with that. Yet, if you want to start making money from it and diversify your connections, treat it like a career more than something you're doing just to be a cool platform for your friends in your local area.

YouTube University is free. You can learn as much as you want on YouTube. I found some certification programs through different YouTube videos. I'm very big on certifications. Free ones at that. Platforms like Coursera and Udemy provide free certifications if you look deep into them. The LinkedIn Premium feature on the networking platform has a thirty-two-dollar monthly subscription that allows you to earn as many professional certifications as you can get. In the past year and a half, I've earned many free certifications in writing, editing, public relations, and communications because I wanted more knowledge. Side note: Look into Search Engine Optimization. It's vital as a web content writer.

To be in the arts and entertainment media field as a journalist/writer/editor/publicist, you must ask yourself "how badly do I want it?" How much time do you want to put into it? Do you want to stick to being local or go global? Do you see this as a side hobby or do you want to make this your living?

Network with different publicists, writers, and editors whether they're in the college field or seasoned veterans in the field. From my experience, I began my writing career in college while balancing school and working in the health field. Even after I graduated college, I balanced working in the two fields and found ways to integrate my professional experiences together for different platforms. Even in my time with theMSQshop, I learned plenty from the interns who have gone to school for media and communications.

I don't have it all figured out. I'm 25 and still learning so much about the world of communications. The pen is mightier than the sword and I've made a good amount of money from random projects over the years on a local and national scale. Soon I'll be doing this full-time aside from part-time and freelance work. When you do great work and provide great energy to it, it will all come back to you.

PLEASE, keep networking. Keep writing. Keep learning. Keep editing. My two main pieces of advice as you grow in the field are:

  • Editing is rewriting. I learned how to become a better writer when I began writing with my eraser.

  • Learn how to write in different tones and styles. Writing press releases are different from content writing, copywriting, technical writing, User Experience (UX Writing), and research writing.

Feel free to contact me on all social media if you have any questions. Check out my Twitter thread that I use as a portfolio below for past interviews and press release placements.

Written by: Jay Guevara. @justinhispirme on all social media.

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