Filtering by Tag: WORK

Not a Stripper

Not long ago, I got an email from someone with a company that was trying to hire me to deliver a presentation. But I wasn’t sure what the company was or what the presentation would be about. We went back and forth in email for a bit, and I remained confused. So, she told me to call her. Then she explained that she works for a company that owns all the strip clubs in a major city. After a bit of back and forth, I realized that she thought I was a former dancer, and she wanted me to come in and coach the girls. “Like on etiquette and stuff,” she said. In any case, since I’ve never been a dancer, but only written about dancers and clubs, I emailed her a few names of women who are and/or were dancers and do that sort of coaching. I was never a dancer. I lacked the guts. Much respect to the girls that do.

Get a copy of my latest short story, “The Tumor” —“a masterpiece of short fiction.”

Ask Susannah: How Do You Get into Freelance Work?

Q: Love your writing. Curious, but how do you get into freelance work?

Image via  Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

A: There’s no one tried and true way to get into freelancing. More often than not, it’ll happen when you undertake a series of experiments. Think of it as firing a shotgun and seeing what it hits or throwing shit against a wall and seeing what sticks. You never know what’s going to happen. It’s up to you to get moving.

I believe the first published article I wrote was for a local newspaper, and it was a book review. Come up with one idea that you can sell. A review. A photograph. A comic. Identify the publication most likely to publish it. A local rag. A small website. A literary magazine. Figure out the person to pitch it to—the editor-in-chief, the photo editor, the features editor. Find their email address. If you can’t find it easily, and you’re pitching to a publication where people have their own emails, emails usually follow one of these styles:,,, You can see if you’ve got the right one by googling it. Usually, their email is posted somewhere, and that search will confirm you have it right. Then write a pitch. Say: I’d like to write a story about X. Or: I’m interested in covering the upcoming cow auction. Perhaps: Are you looking for an op-ed columnist? Tell them what you’ve done that’s impressive. Include some links to your work or even a sample of your work.

A lot of times, editors never respond. That’s just the way it is. I hate when I pitch editors, and they don’t respond. That said, sometimes as an editor, I don’t respond to pitches. It’s the single most passive aggressive no you’ll ever get. Learn to live with rejection. Or ignore it. It’s just one person.

Of course, you can forget that whole pitching-to-publications thing and sell your stuff yourself. I like Gumroad. You can set your own price, produce your own products, and get paid in a reasonable time period.

At first, you might not make a lot of money with your freelancing. If you keep at it, you’ll get better. You’ll connect with other freelancers. People will start asking you to create things for them. Eventually, it just grows and grows.

Good luck!


Buy my digital short, “The Tumor.” It’s been called “a masterpiece of short fiction.”

How to Make a Living as a Writer

Over the last year, as the Lawrence Grauman Jr. Post-graduate Fellow at the Investigative Reporting Program at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, I had the opportunity to mentor graduate students in journalism. What question did they ask me most often?


How do you make a living?

For me, the answer was simple. I wasn’t precious about writing. I do one thing well, and nothing else well: I am a very, very good writer. One could say writing is my superpower. Writing is the tool I use to make money. How I use that tool is up to me. There is no one correct way to use the tool. There is you, and the tool, and how you use the tool is your business.

At this point, I’ve been a writer for over two decades. Which is a pretty long time to make a living at something. Along the way, I’ve been many things, but all of them involve writing. I’ve been an investigative journalist, a copywriter, a TV producer, a branding consultant, a publicist, and a speaker, to name a few.

While I know that I can write and well, I have a sort of shrugging attitude as to how I’ve applied that talent.

  • In 2010, a communications company hired me to be the voice of Pepto-Bismol on Facebook. If you’re not aware, Pepto on social media is a personality. P&G was unhappy with what this company had done to give Pepto a persona. It was up to me to provide that. So, I did. One of the most popular posts I wrote featured the caption: “I partied so hard my cup fell off.” The photo featured Pepto with its cup next to it.

  • In 2009, I wrote and published a 10,000-word investigation of the Great Recession’s impact on the adult movie industry: “They Shoot Porn Stars, Don’t They?” Slate included it in their "Seven Great Stories About Paying for Sex and Being Paid to Have It,” and Longform called it “unflinching and devastating.” Subsequently, an essay I wrote about the project, "The Numbers On Self-Publishing Long-Form Journalism," was taught in “Media, Politics & Power in the Digital Age” at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the Studio 20 program at the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University.

  • In 2008, I was an editor for a Time Warner-owned digital vertical for 18-to-34-year-old women. During that tenure, I wrote nearly 1,400 posts, oversaw a team of freelance contributors, and directed the site’s digital outreach program, helping grow the site’s traffic from startup to 4 million unique visitors and 22 million page views a month.


So, who am I? A copywriter? An investigative journalist? An editor? Pretending to be Pepto made $100 an hour and earned me thousands of dollars every month. The porn investigation I published “made” no money but was read by thousands and thousands of people and, according to one reader, “changed the way I think about the business of making pornography.” As an editor, I made over $80,000 a year and learned slideshows are the easiest way to maximize page views. I’ve also developed TV shows, consulted on films, and worked as a branding consultant and a publicist. Was one job better than the other? Was one a waste of my time? Was one meaningful and the rest not? Does it matter? To me, it’s all the same. I’m a writer.

Awhile back, I published a digital short story: “The Tumor.” I had it professionally designed and edited. Every month, people buy copies of it on Gumroad, where consumers can pay they want ($1+) for it. It might be a bizarre fiction inspired by reality and populated by a monster, but it’s also unequivocally mine.

To young journalists, I want to say: Do whatever you want—as long as its yours.

Buy my digital short story, “The Tumor” … “a masterpiece of short fiction.”

Forbes Blog Monthly Stats #5

Every month, I review the traffic stats at my Forbes blog. This is my latest.

Last month was terrific. This month was not so much. Last month, I did around 193K unique visitors and 230K page views. This month I did around 115K unique visitors and 140K page views.

Here's what worked and what could use improvement.

The month's post popular post had to do with soft-core lesbian porn. The reasons for its popularity elude me. Another frequently read post was about an MMA fighter on trial for beating up his former porn star ex-girlfriend. The surprise post of the month was about Wonder Woman's armpit hair. Frankly, I wrote that one without thinking much about it, and it caused quite a fuss, getting cited by the National Review and discussed for a full hour on "The Dennis Prager Show." Apparently, armpit hair on female superheroes is a must-click topic. I'll keep that in mind for April. I also wrote a post about some porny YSL ads that upset some Parisians. That post got a nod from the Kansas City Star. The post I thought was the most unique was an interview I did with a lifestyle blogger -- who's armed and dangerous. 

As for what I can work on: post more, be more creative, write better headlines, do more interviews, be more daring, focus more on things that are fun, keep up the regular posting.

I'm noticing that I'm writing more about women-related issues, and I'd like to do more of it. In addition, I'm doing more hot takes, which is good, because that makes you a part of the conversation. And it was nice to get some media attention.

Yo, it's all good in the bloghood.

Final monthly stats: 

Pageviews: 140,725

Total Monthly Visitors: 115,545

One-time Visitors: 112,156

Repeat Visitors: 3,389

Comments: 46

Posts: 12

Current Recency Score: 74.511%

How to Write a LinkedIn Profile That Makes You Sound Like a Human Being

I did some work on my LinkedIn profile lately, as I'm seeking new career opportunities, and it was an interesting experience. It's part rethinking oneself, part rethinking how others see you, and part rethinking how you put yourself out there. I did some research while doing it, as well.

Here's what I learned.

Make it you

In the past, my LinkedIn profile hasn't felt much like me. It was robotic, or overly business-like, or cursory. I learned a lot about writing a LinkedIn profile that sounds as if it belongs to a human by reading Jenny Foss at The Muse. She has all kinds of really smart ideas about career strategy, and how to think of yourself as you move forward in the interviewing process, and how to brand yourself in a way that's both interesting and authentic. That laid the groundwork.

Keep it simple, stupid

This is the important acronym: Keep It Simple, Stupid -- or KISS. I had a conversation the other day with a scripted reality TV producer I've worked with, and he reminded me that the bottom line thing we're all doing here is telling stories. I've done a lot of different things: journalism, blogging, editing, digital outreach, copywriting, and producing scripted reality TV. What do all those things have in common? I'm a storyteller. So I led with that.

Grab their attention

Of course, you've got to stand out from the pack. So I started my summary with an interesting anecdote from my personal history: I was a human lab rat. From the time I was a toddler until I was in my thirties, I was a participant in a famous longitudinal study of human development. Not that many people can say that, so I began with that, and I tied it into my career. 

In any case, you can read my LinkedIn summary below, and you can connect with me on LinkedIn here. I'm actively looking for full-time or part-time work (particularly the former) in the word business, and if you have a lead, or if you know someone that I should talk to, I'd love to hear from you

Photo by  Clayton Cubitt

Susannah Breslin

Award-winning journalist, blogger, and editor. | A "rare commodity online." | I tell stories.

 University of California, Berkeley


I'm a human lab rat. When I was a toddler, I became a participant in a legendary 30-year longitudinal study of human development that set out to answer one simple question: How do we become who we are? 

That experience played a part in why I've spent the last decade figuring out the answer to another question: Why do people do what they do online? I'm fascinated by what inspires people to click and engage digitally. 

I help companies tell stories. I've done it as a journalist, a blogger, an editor, a copywriter, and a scripted reality television producer. It all comes down to storytelling -- and understanding what truly moves people.

I work with the world's biggest brands to grow their digital properties. I wrote an article on that has nearly 2M views. I was the voice of Pepto-Bismol on Facebook, increasing that brand's social engagement by 500% as market share rose 11%. I helped Time Warner build a digital vertical for millennial women, using my network of digital influencers to turn a startup into a destination site with 4M unique visitors and 22M page views a month. 

What's your story? If your brand needs a hand, you can contact me at

Personal Essay Seeks Home With Non-Rejecting Publication

Image via  Drawception

Image via Drawception

Know anyone who wants a nonfiction essay?

This one is up for adoption and needs a home.

Declined by Brevity.
Dear Susannah Breslin,

Thank you for sending us your brief essay 'It Was Hard'.

Although we do not have a place for your work in the issues for which we are currently reading, we wanted you to know that our readers read your essay closely.

We have been blessed with a large number of excellent submissions lately, and we hope that you understand that we can only publish a small fraction of the material we receive.

We wish you the best of luck with your writing,


The Editors
1/10/2017 (1 month, 13 days ago)

Don't Let the Boys Win

If you're a girl, and you blog for a living, don't just aggregate. Originate. Sometimes it seems like the boys have more balls. They brag about their FOIAs, and they win their Pulitzers. You should be digging up the new stuff, too, not just regurgitating that shit that's already out there.

That's  Lois Lane

That's Lois Lane

Send an email

It takes you 10 minutes to write an email with 10 questions in it. Find someone who interests you, write 10 interview questions, and then push SEND. You just might learning something new that you can add to your story. 

Get on the phone

The other day, I made a call to request permission to use some photos. I ended up doing an interview with the head of the company. Phoners really aren't that hard. Do one a day. A down-and-dirty call can take as little as 15 minutes.

Leave the house

Get out of your apartment/office/house at least once a day. Look around in the world for something you'd like to cover. One time I did this, and I found a guy who was looking for a job from his living room window. 

Forbes Blog Monthly Stats #3

Last year, I started and then stopped a transparent blogging traffic series in which I examined the numbers associated with my Forbes blog, SIN INC, where I cover the business of vice (guns, sex, alcohol, gambling, etc.). That series -- you can read #1 here and #2 here -- went on hiatus for some reason. Now it's back. It may or may not shed light on "blogging for dollars" for you, if that's something you do.

I'm going to focus here in on January 2017, which I hope is the last month that my traffic on the blog there will suck. I had put a pause on blogging on the Forbes website for a few months prior, in order to work on another project, but this month, February 2017, is really banging so far, traffic-wise, and I look forward to detailing that next month.

Let's talk about January. So January 2017 will be, I hope, the last time I post the minimum number of times required, which is five, at least for me. Historically, I've not infrequently procrastinated until the end of the month, and then posted during the last five days of the month. What a bum. Thankfully, in February 2017, I started posting five times a week, every weekday, and that's been working great. I'll detail how that happened in next month's post.

In any case, I did a post on a firearms coloring book that I thought was interesting. I enjoyed interviewing the woman who created it. That post got 2,833 views, which is not that great, but whatever. I also wrote a post about a new Playboy Club that's coming to New York. That got 1,806 views, which is way meh. Since I sometimes work as a copywriter, I like to write about ads, and I wrote about the Mr. Clean sexes up the Super Bowl phenomenon. That got 6,018 views, which is better than the others. A post about an autographed copy of Playboy signed by Not My President really shit the bed with 724 views. I also watched the new Warren Buffett documentary and extracted five tips for women. That got 6,000 views. So, in all, not a great month, but lots of room for improvement.

Thoughts: My headlines aren't strong enough. Thankfully, the Forbes CMS has a funny little widget that reviews your headline, grades it, and helps you make it better. I didn't post more, but I'm working on that this month. And I offered little in the way of "hot takes." The closest thing was the Buffett post, because part of my point to women was good luck turning into Buffett if you weren't born a white male, because that's what Buffett points to in the documentary as the equivalent of winning the "ovarian lottery." But the post should've been stronger in tone and funnier.

Final monthly stats:

Pageviews: 66,116

Total Monthly Visitors: 51,135

One-time Visitors: 49,431

Repeat Visitors: 1,704

Comments: 0

Posts: 5

Current Recency Score: 35.967

In any case, come back next month for a far-more impressive tally. I'm also going to talk about finding better story ideas on what I've come to refer to as "the grey web." It's where everyone else isn't hunting for fodder.

Hire Me

Today is a great day to hire me. Here are a few things I can do for you.

I'm a writer

I'm an experienced journalist. I'm a veteran blogger. This week, my blog got more than 100,000 views. Need words? I have them. Plus, I'm fast and accurate.

I can sell

I've worked with some of the world's biggest ad agencies. I excel at creating engaging social content. Here's my portfolio.

I'll help you tell your story

I've developed reality TV shows and consulted on feature films. Check out the rest of my talents on LinkedIn.

To hire me, email me here.

Working for a Living

As usual, I'm for hire.

Here are a few things I can help you do:

1. Develop your reality TV show ideas (I've worked on true crime, adventure, and miniseries)

2. Blog ( named me one of the best bloggers of the year in '08)

3. Write (I'm a journalist with bylines ranging from Harper's Bazaar to Salon to Variety)

4. Advertising (I've worked with Publicis Groupe and Weber Shandwick)

5. Consult (I've helped cast feature films and TV shows)

My LinkedIn is here. You can email me here.

Order the perfect holiday gift today!  Buy THE TUMOR, a "masterpiece of short fiction" by Susannah Breslin.

Things You Can Hire Me to Do

1. Develop your reality TV show idea

2. Create engagement-friendly ad copy

3. Blog about interesting/provocative/timely topics

4. Freelance journalism

5. Consult on your multimedia project

You can view my experience on LinkedIn.

You can email me at susannahbreslin at gmail dot com.

Support the arts! Buy a digital copy of THE TUMOR, a "masterpiece of short fiction" by me, Susannah Breslin.


How to Get a Job in Reality TV

I was lucky enough to have a few weeks-long gig recently working on developing a few reality TV show ideas.

Here's what I learned:

Have fun

The hard thing about writing books is that they're sometimes no fun. Reality TV? It's entertainment. You could say the bar is lowered, but maybe the bar is raised on having a good time.

Stop trying

The reason I got the gig is that the producer found me on the internet. Sometimes you have to try hard to get something. Sometimes it just falls into your lap.

You aren't perfect

I was better at some aspects of this work than others. But even the stuff I wasn't great at helped because it made me more able to get it right the next time I worked on it.

Support the arts! Buy a digital copy of THE TUMOR, a "masterpiece of short fiction" by me, Susannah Breslin.

Work and Other Things

At this point in my career, I remain confused as to whether it is a blessing or a curse to be good at many things. Which is to say, I am not good at many things in a broad sense but that when it comes to words, I am good at the many ways one may apply that gift. I write fiction and nonfiction, am a copywriter and a digital marketer, create strange projects and undertake long-form investigations. Is this good or is this bad? I have no idea.

The ad world

Not long ago, I went to Miami to talk to some ad agencies about doing some copywriting work for them. So far, those interviews have not led anywhere. Why is this the case? I'm not sure. Maybe it is: my freelance status, my overall vibe, my doesn't-fit-into-a-box-edness. There were some issues that presented themselves during the process. One: Anyone who interviews me has googled me, which means that they know I've written extensively about pornography. Two: There had been a several year gap between when I had been doing copywriting last and my interest in it now, which was due to the fact that I had cancer and then got better. Both of these topics ended up being addressed directly in the interviews, which I had decided beforehand was the best way to handle them. But was I right? I don't know.

Reality TV is calling

Because internet, I had a producer approach me about developing an idea for a reality TV show. This ended up being a great time. I really enjoyed doing this. It was fun. In fact, I was going to list a few words after "fun," but when I wrote the word "fun," I realized that's what I liked most about it. It was fun. It wasn't stressful or deadly serious or an impossible task. It was enjoyable. It was entertainment. I have done some TV show producing and developing in the past. When I was on Playboy TV, I would bring the executive producers story ideas, and sometimes I gave input on scripts, and that sort of thing. At FX, I did some segment producing on a show called "The X Show," which was like that network's "The Man Show," and I did this Comedy Central-esque recurring feature in which I played someone called "The Manvocate," where I would seek out ways in which men were being exploited. I think the first one we did was on male porn stars being paid less than female porn stars. I think there was another one on male circumcision that was really weird and maybe would be best to forget about. I also forgot until I was working on this new show that years ago I actually had my own TV pilot, based on my old blog, which I went to New York to pitch, and met with I think it was MTV and VH1 and maybe Oxygen. That was a bit of a train wreck. But also a learning experience? One hopes.

Out, damned words

I have spent most of my career failing at being accepted by the New York publishing world. In maybe 2008, I put together a book proposal, got an agent, and that failed to sell. This time around, I couldn't even get an agent. Most agents didn't even respond after I submitted the two proposals I'd spent a long time getting solid. I hate agents, and the New York publishing world can suck my dick. That's my light bulb moment, right there. And fuck Oprah. Anyway, I'm working on a novel. May all the agents who ignored me suffer at the hands of fate.

Support the arts! Buy a digital copy of THE TUMOR, a "masterpiece of short fiction" by me, Susannah Breslin.

Mistakes I've Made in My Career

Going on job interviews lately (copywriting for ad agencies) and getting a new gig lately (development for reality TV) have got me thinking about mistakes I've made in my career. There have been many. Here are a few.

Torching bridges

At one point several years ago, I spent a good period of time working for a communications agency as as copywriter. Eventually, I ended things without sufficient warning. That was dumb. So much for a reference from them, forever. For some reason, Forbes is one of the few companies for which I've worked with which I've kept a (so far as I'm aware) decent relationship. This is smarter. The other way is stupider. Don't be stupid.

Stop moving

Right before I left Los Angeles some time ago, I'd interviewed for a job that would've led to me being a part of a think tank of people coming up with reality TV ideas. But in my personal life there was a breakup, and I thought I wanted to get out of LA, and, who knows, maybe I needed to leave. But I've always had an easier time finding work in LA. I think I'm more professionally compatible with that city's ethos: shiny surfaces, bleeding hearts, pulsing insanity.

Raise the stakes

It's hard to imagine a job I've done for which I haven't been underpaid. Ad agencies paid me a good chunk of money for what I did, but it was a drop in the bucket of their budgets. I should've asked for more, more often, more of the time. These new work opportunities push me back into negotiating for my worth. And that's some high stakes shit, right? Because you're not negotiating for money, you're telling somebody: This is what I'm worth: as a person, as a woman, as a talent. Monetize your talent. It's what will earn you the only paycheck you won't be embarrassed to cash because it won't have cost you your soul.

Oh, and if you want to hire me before I get too busy to take on more work, here's my copywriting portfolio, my LinkedIn profile, and the best thing I've ever written.

Want to show your love? Buy THE TUMOR, a "masterpiece of short fiction" by me, Susannah Breslin.