During the summer before my senior year in high school, I held what I think may have been the oddest job in existence: I dressed up as a tomato.
I was handing out flyers throughout downtown Colorado Springs, and clad in a large red vinyl ball stuffed with newspapers I wandered through the park, the courthouse and a whole bunch of big businesses. Oh, and my own high school.
I made some money, got unbelievably embarrassed and got dehydrated (I was insulated too well for the average summer day). I also learned some incredibly valuable lessons that I’ve managed to apply as a freelancer.
- People are more likely to notice something that stands out. A new angle or sheer enthusiasm can get you places that covering the same story the same way everyone else does will never lead you.
- People will remember willingness to go out on a limb. My high school counselor was more than happy to write a few extra recommendations for the girl in the tomato suit (especially because she scored him extra coupons from the restaurant she was advertising).
- Other people won’t find your tomato suit — or other gimmicks — nearly as embarrassing as you will. This especially goes for marketing. A lot of writers are worried that they’ll make a fool of themselves by putting themselves forward for any sort of personal marketing. Other people will look kindly on all kinds of attempts to engage their interest, down to a girl walking into their office dressed as a tomato.