A couple of months ago the New York Times announced that KJ Dell’Antonia would be taking Lisa Belkin’s place at the popular Motherlode blog. Recently, I sat down with KJ to chat about her career path and how she became the new lead blogger at the Motherlode. Here’s a snapshot of what we can learn from KJ’s career path.
1. Don’t be afraid of change.
After 9/11, KJ was laid off from her job in the legal field. Rather than frantically updating her resume and sending it out to law firms, KJ took a moment to reassess and decided to focus on an entirely new career as a professional writer.
Change can be incredibly scary, but by taking on a new challenge KJ was able to build relationships with some of the most well-known traditional publications, and build a career that allowed her to stay home with her family.
2. Say yes more often.
KJ said that it took years to build relationships with well-known editors. The key was to say yes to opportunities you might not otherwise take and broaden your expertise. “If I wanted to write for a publication I would write about whatever they wanted in whatever voice they wanted. To get the good work you have to prove that you are willing to do all of the work.”
In sticking to this philosophy and saying yes to a position reviewing children’s media at Slate magazine she was able to eventually land the job at Slate she was really interested in. “It was one of those stories that saying yes to other things leads you to what you really want.”
3. Build yourself a niche.
It was at Slate that KJ learned the ins and outs of blogging about parenting for a traditional media outlet. “There aren’t many parenting blogs that are topical, political and cultural all at once.” When the position opened up at the New York Times KJ was one of the few bloggers that was writing in the way that the Times was looking for. In building a niche in this traditional parenting blogging space KJ was able to stand out from the rest when the position opened up.
KJ had some great advice for aspiring writers and freelancers who are interested in writing for publications like the Times. You can find the full interview over at She Posts.