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  • Writer's pictureFred

So, You're A Journalist, Right? No.

Dear Akon... forgive me for what I'm 'bout to say...
Dear Barry Weiss, I know you told me not to worry about it man
But I can't let it ride - T-Pain, Karaoke

Over the years, people have gotten the impression that I am a full-time journalist.

This is me clearing the air and setting the record straight.

Just like Teddy Pain, I got something I need to get off my chest.

After working an 8-hour day at his full-time engineering job, Frederick happens to get a Gmail notification while drafting his latest story on a startup. It's a Founder looking for their company to be profiled in Forbes.

Founder: Hi Frederick, I hope this email finds you well. I've been seeing your content around LinkedIn and Forbes, and I love your work. I was wondering if you were interested in writing a story on my startup. We just raised a big round from marquee investors, and we're looking to announce our fundraise come next week. Are you free for a call to discuss more? We would really like you to write a story about us.

Me: Hey, thanks for reaching out. I'm sorry, but I won't be able to write a story about your company. Usually, I need advance notice (generally 1-2 months early, ideally 3 months early) to be able to write a story of sufficient quality in time. I can't do that given your current timeline. Sorry!

Founder: But I see you're content on social media and the broader web all the time! I could have sworn you're a full-time journalist.

Me: I certainly don't blame you for coming to that conclusion. But that's the thing, I'm not a journalist.

Founder: Then what are you?

Me: I'm an engineer who likes to write. I just happen to write on startups in my spare time. It's a long story, so I'll spare you the details. Writing for me is a hobby. It's a different way to stretch my brain from all the technical work I do for a living. Without my engineering background, I wouldn't be able to write the stories that I do in a compelling, concise, and coherent manner.

Founder: But you're like, really good at writing startup stories! Wouldn't you ever want to be a journalist full-time?

Me: Thanks, but no. Like I said before, I'm not a journalist. I don't have any intention of being one ever. All journalists are writers, but not all writers are journalists. The fact that I went to engineering school for six years to earn two degrees in the discipline would make the latter statement hold true. I consider myself an engineer first, writer second. Only one of these professions keeps the lights on for me. My engineering work will always be my number one professional priority.

Founder: Ok, I get it. You generally don't have the time to write like other full-time, salaried journalists, therefore requests in a short timeframe aren't best for you. What can I do on my end to maximize the chance of us working together in the future?

Me: One: reach out to me early (3 months is best). Two: provide me with a concise story pitch that covers the Problem, Market, Solution, and Team. Three: be patient, as I won't be able to get back to you during the mornings and afternoons on weekdays (as those are my work hours).

You do those three things, I'd say you have a good shot of working with me. No promises, however.

Founder: I appreciate the transparency. I look forward to pitching you in the future!

Me: Looking forward to seeing it in my inbox.

The end.


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