Written by Nancy L. for 52′s blog. Thanks so much Nancy.
If there’s one question I’ve heard the most over the years, it’s “How did you become a freelance writer?” People are somewhat fascinated by this career path, and I’m happy to share the story (it all started with my 6th grade English teacher, Mrs. Robbins).
Lately, I’ve been turning the tables, and asking that very same question to my writer-type friends and colleagues. Here’s what Liz B., a fellow freelance writer and photographer, had to say about her journey into the world of freelancing:
“I was working at a record label here in Portland—helping them with everything from publicity to distribution—and some musician friends of mine asked if I’d like to join them on tour. So, I took a break and went on the road with them. One afternoon, we were at a rooftop party for SXSW in Austin, and I was introduced to Brooke Denisco. She was an Arts and Culture editor from Willamette Week.
When I got back to Portland, I ran into Brooke again at a show and we got to talking. I had studied journalism in college, and always wanted to write. So I asked her about freelance opportunities and she assigned me a story—even though I had no clips to show her. The assignment went well, and I started writing for the paper: arts and culture, fashion, and music. Eventually I became a columnist.
Newspapers don’t pay that well, so I wanted to branch out. So I answered a classified ad in the Oregonian to write for a natural medicine publication (I studied nutrition in college, too). From there, I was introduced to an editor of a health food magazine. One thing led to another and I kept adding more health magazines. Then a few years later, I pitched Spa Magazine. I never heard anything. A year and a half later, the Spa editor got in touch with me and I started writing about natural medicine and nutrition. Then I worked my way into travel and experiential spa articles.”
Liz isn’t just a freelance writer. She lives the dream: traveling all over the world, getting paid to visit spas, and having her writing published in national magazine. But Liz is realistic, too. “If you really want to be a freelance writer,” she says. “Be open to all kinds of opportunities. It’s hard to make enough money if you only write about one topic, so I supplement my income with copywriting, which is much more lucrative.”