Social media editor found her voice, created a career
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Carly Heitlinger always saw herself as a numbers person. She had always left the creative work to her sister, the creative writer of the family.During her freshman semester at Georgetown University, however, Heitlinger was looking for an outlet through which she could not only share her personal experiences as a college student struggling through course work and life but also her own personal experiences.
That semester, Heitlinger envisioned and created College Prepster.
“I have no idea why I ever picked blogging as my creative outlet,” Heitlinger said. “I could have picked anything, it just so happened that I picked writing, specifically writing on the Internet.”
When College Prepster was created in 2008, blogging had not yet expanded into the vast community it is today. Heitlinger saw writing as an outlet to release herself and didn’t expect her blog to become an overnight sensation. With so much success, Heitlinger realized she had a gift for writing even though she still thinks of herself as a better math and English person than a writer.
Heitlinger has not only grown College Prepster to become the major hit it is today, expanding it into another blog, College Prepster’s Closet, but she has also grown as a writer and editor. Heitlinger is currently working as an editor for the Levo League, a social media outlet helping young female professionals find jobs and interact with successful business women. Between writing pieces for Levo League’s website, maintaining her own blog and coming up with new ideas for writing every day, Heitlinger stays busy but also finds other creative outlets to express herself, as well as encouraging others to express themselves.
When talking about writing and editing for College Prepster and the Levo League, Heitlinger stressed two major concepts that are very important to her: originality and expressing oneself. With social media being so popular and growing every day, Heitlinger said, at times it is hard to be original. When looking for blog post and article ideas, she engages in a huge brainstorming session, usually coming up with between five and 10 ideas. “Coming up with ideas is a good half of the battle,” Heitlinger said. She also goes on to say that if she has seen the idea happen in 10 other outlets or even feels as though it will be a much repeated and overdone topic then she makes sure to steer clear of it. To her, staying original and exciting to maintain her audience is the hardest part of her writing.
Heitlinger says that she finds inspiration from her surroundings. Whether it be her friends, family or her job, she continually finds new ideas and new ways to approach stories. Sometimes she even finds new ideas from simple things that happen in her own life, whether it be a personal experience, questions her readers ask or topics her co-workers bring up.
Heitlinger started College Prepster when she was 19 years old. Today she is 23. Heitlinger has gone through many different life changes including a move and a new job as the chief editor for the Levo League. With all that has happened in Hettinger’s life, she believes that her writing has matured. She believes that life experiences truly shape a writer’s style as well as the way in which she approaches topics and editing. Growing up has changed her writing and editing, Heitlinger believes, but she gives much credit to the evolution of social media. It has made it easier to write, edit and sometimes even come up with new ideas.
Not long ago Heitlinger was a student. Now she has seen her writing go from being a personal outlet to express herself to a hit blog and a full-time career.
Her main piece of advice to all students and writers: Find your style and your voice.
Stay original, she advises, and she says the best way to do that is to find what you are passionate about and then to make sure to stay true to your writing style.
“Just because something works for someone else doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you,” she said.