Tell us about your work. What do you do?
I’m a freelance journalist, copywriter and PR consultant and have run my own editorial business from home for the past six years. I’m incredibly lucky to be able to do a job I absolutely love — in fact becoming a writer was the only thing I ever wanted to do from being a very small child. I’ve never lost the thrill of seeing my byline in print in a newspaper or magazine and I don’t think I ever will!
The work I do is really varied and in any one week I could be working on a copywriting campaign for a charity, researching and writing a health or true life feature for a women’s weekly magazine, completing a copywriting commission for a national newspaper or a client such as travel company Cosmos or financial planners Key Retirement and writing business blogs, press releases or a company profile for a PR client. I also proof book manuscripts for a publishing company and write for the trade press sector — there’s always something new and fresh to capture in words!
What is your career background?
I started out as a journalist working in local papers in Cardiff, where I’d done a year’s postgrad course in print journalism (and where I met my husband who is also a journalist!) I did my senior reporting exams and then a few years later moved to London where I did various jobs on women’s magazines, including being a Celebrity Editor and Commissioning Editor. I also worked in PR in bursts including six months in the factual programming team at ITV. I started specialising in copywriting when I went freelance, although I’d dabbled in it before. Print journalism is now, sadly, something of a dying industry as everyone moves over to digital so as a journalist you have to expand your skills and rebrand yourself to survive.
What made you change your job to become a Freelancer?
We started a family in 2011 when our daughter Imogen was born, and that was the trigger for me starting to think seriously about going freelance. At the time I was the Deputy Features Editor at Bella magazine, really loved my job and worked with a great group of people, so it wasn’t an easy decision. Ultimately though I wanted to be able to work more flexibly around Immy, and because I’d built up a good network of contacts over the years I realised I’d be able to make a semi decent living. As a writer your main tools are a working laptop and a notebook and pen and you can also work anywhere there’s a Wi-Fi signal! I could tell you stories about trying to do technical interviews about pension products with a two-year- old screaming for snacks and Peppa Pig around my ankles, but I think anyone who works around their family gets used to serious multi-tasking!
What are the benefits of Freelancing?
There are loads. Being able to do the school and nursery run, not having to miss school plays and assemblies, being able to volunteer for the PTA at Immy’s school — not having to commute! These are just a few. Our son Rory, who’s just turned three, was diagnosed with autism last summer, so it’s also been great being around to take him to various therapy appointments and do ‘homework’ with him to help him with things such as his speech and language. It would be much harder to do all of this if I was still working in London. I do miss the buzz of working in an office sometimes, brainstorming meetings and grabbing an impromptu lunch or dinner with friends, but I have lots of great friends who also work from home or volunteer and we meet up at least once a week. Plus I’m a member of various Freelance groups on Facebook and they are a godsend — you’re effectively part of a virtual office.
Do you have any advice for other people considering a Freelance career
Think hard about whether you’ll be happy working from home and potentially by yourself for much of the time before taking the plunge. Freelancing has a myriad of benefits but you do need drive to set your own deadlines and meet them, as well as getting out there networking to drum up new business. You also need to stay on top of things like invoicing and tax, which can be hard if you’re switching from being PAYE to self-employed. I’ve never regretted going freelance though — it’s led to many opportunities and interesting projects that I’d never have come across if I was still on staff at a magazine. Maybe one day I’ll venture back into an office but for now the Freelance life suits me down to the ground.
Thanks Sarah, such useful information on making the change to Freelancer – it’s great to know there is life after the corporate world! Looking forward to seeing you out there in the Freelance community.
Freelance journalist, copywriter and PR consultant
Tel: 07815 130191