What Even Is My Job, Exactly? The Rise of Slashies and Multi-Hyphenates
From the ages of 18 to 23 I only had one word that I wanted to be defined as: editor. Everyone knows that to be an editor you also must inherently be a writer too, but most people who have held the title can confirm that generally thrive more in one role than the other. I have always felt like more of a writer but the life of an “editor” was just something extremely appealing to me. Yes, I watched The Devil Wears Prada too, but you have to understand that this goes deeper than basing my entire life off of one movie (although it does sound like something I would do). My mom was also a magazine editor and once I zoned in on magazine journalism as the career path that I wanted to travel down and more specifically in the worlds of fashion and beauty, I knew what I had to do. So I did internships. I went to networking events. I worked late hours and weekends. And I had a side hustle, which meant balancing this blog on the side the entire time I was in college and working full-time.
And sure it wasn’t easy, but I loved absolutely every second of both my “real job” and my passion project that would occasionally bring in a couple hundred dollars each month. And then when Nylon folded and I got laid off, I suddenly felt like I was floating not just in the world of unemployment but also in a title purgatory. Just because I wasn’t an editor at Nylon anymore, didn’t mean I stopped being an editor—but it felt wrong to claim that title without another modifier to attach to it. I had been an assistant editor at Nylon. That title was unsurprisingly on my LinkedIn, but it also functioned beyond that and served as my Instagram bio, how I introduced myself at industry events, the thing that I went on a passionate rant about on one of my first dates with Andrew, and so on. Without it, I didn’t really know what to do.
As it turned out I didn’t have to worry about it for too long because then I was offered the same position at Interview Magazine. I was once again an assistant editor and I felt like I had regained my legitimacy. When Interview folded eight months later, I once again found myself without a job. Being an editor without a staff position felt like having to take a test that I didn’t study for, which as I’m sure you can guess, is a nightmare of mine. This wasn’t how it was supposed to happen for me. I wanted to work my way up and then maybe when I was 29 and the fashion features editor at Marie Claire or Elle I would quit and try going out on my own. But I didn’t have those years of experience and there were still so many more connections to be made, stories to write, and unexplored areas of this industry that I had become so passionate about. As much as I wished I could have just gotten another job at a magazine, even a digital one, I knew it wasn’t a smart move and so a few months after begrudgingly applying to over 50 jobs all of which I could instantly tell looked as though I’d be overworked and underpaid, I decided to put all of my focus into my freelance business.
In the last few months I’ve worn more hats than I ever have before. I’m still a freelance writer and editor (even having the modifier “freelance” here makes me feel better when I introduce myself because it feels more legitimate than just introducing myself as a writer out of context) but I’m also a copywriter, a social media consultant, an email marketing strategist, a fashion and beauty blogger, a YouTuber, a video editor, a photographer, a creative director...the list goes on and on but anyone who introduces themselves with more than like three titles is just Too Much.
Lately many of my fellow millennials seem to be venturing off of the path of a single job and a single salary and into the worlds of side hustles, multiple revenue streams, and online businesses. I’ve heard people who fall into this group called many things, slashies and multi-hyphenates among the descriptors people use, but neither of those things is acceptable to post on LinkedIn as your job description (yet) since it doesn’t really tell you anything about what we do.
I asked my audience on Instagram to think about how they might describe me to a friend and challenged them to stick to three words if possible. Here are some of the most common answers I got and I wanted to break down my thoughts on them:
This is actually a title that I’m very comfortable with since I’ve been a blogger now for seven years (???) and it’s a title that I’ve held for the longest. Since I do so many other things, I’m not sure if it fully encompasses my whole profession.
The title that I lusted after for so long. It’s true, I am still qualified to correct punctuation and to go by this term but whereas before I was an editor full-time, I now feel like any actual editing I do takes up around 25% of my time overall.
The rise of this term in the last year is something I’m pretty comfortable with since in a general sense it does pretty much lay it all out there. I create content, whether that content be words, images or video, for brands and publications.
This definitely feels like a title I’m comfortable using with people since I do freelance on a pretty frequent basis for a bunch of national publications.
I love how official this sounds and I guess it is true to a certain degree, but when I think about me as a journalist and someone who covers international relations, politics, crime, etc., I still understand that there is a huge variety of jobs that fall under the journalism umbrella. As long as you preface calling me a fashion and beauty journalist, I think we’re good.
I know everyone loves to hate on this word and as much as I’ve gone back and forth with it before, I honestly don’t hate it. I do, however, think there is a distinction between an influencer who only has an Instagram profile and a blogger who creates content for a website that they own and my hesitation with this word is that it can be hard to differentiate those two.
I wish I could introduce myself as Austen Tosone, former magazine editor who blogs about fashion and beauty and creates content for brands and publications but WOW that is a mouthful and did you even finish reading this sentence because it was so long? These days, it has to be able to fit into your Instagram bio. Some other words that weren’t even mentioned above that also define what I do are YouTuber, copywriter, and social media consultant. For now I’ll say that I’m a full-time freelancer who writes and creates content for fashion and beauty brands and that I wouldn’t change a single thing about the work I get to do every day.