Career Change: How I Became A Freelance Writer

Like many women I know, after having a baby I wanted to change my career direction. In my pre-baby life I worked at Google Australia in publisher management and digital marketing. It was a wonderful place to work and I learned a great deal about online marketing.

In late 2010, my husband, Alec, was offered the opportunity to work at a startup in New York City – somewhere I’d always wanted to live. The same week, we found out I was pregnant. Alec took the job and a few months later we moved and I quit my job. Moving country and preparing for the baby became my new job, and then motherhood when Baby arrived.

I’d already been blogging casually for about four years at that stage, and when we moved to the US to I started to document our expat experiences, and then my pregnancy and new life as a parent.

Without a job and itching to keep my brain active, I upped my blogging game when Baby came along, starting to take it more seriously. I started working on a site with a friend in NYC on kid-friendly dining that expanded to cover other destinations in Sydney and Singapore. I got active in the local blogger community, attended blogging events and started to connect with brands and other bloggers. At night I read about SEO and stumbled my way through building a self-hosted WordPress site.

I also began to put my digital marketing training into practice, working on growing social media channels and subscribers to increase traffic to my blog. The SEM (search engine marketing) experience at Google really helped me to naturally be able to write well for SEO (search engine optimisation, or how to show up in the search results on Google), and I saw organic search becoming a big source of traffic to the blog.

After a while I felt ready to start working again in a small capacity, so I put together a simple WordPress site as my online writing portfolio and resume to send out to prospective employers. By this time I had written guest posts for a lot of other sites, too, and also had quite a decent amount of published work from my first few jobs in the editorial departments of Australian lifestyle magazines, plus from my work in marketing at Google. All together, it was enough to help me start getting a few freelance writing jobs.

Work started coming through all kinds of sources. People approached me through the blog, and I signed up to Contently.com and received work through that for Fisher Price and Electrolux.

Most of the work I have taken on, however, I’ve had to really put myself out there for. I cold-emailed publications after asking for the editor’s contact details, and then pitched the publication ideas for articles. I also attended events where the speakers worked for brands or sites that I wanted to work for, and approached the people after their talks with a quick elevator pitch and request for their business cards.

After getting the contacts I was after, I’d research their publication and pitch stories. It’s time consuming, and there’s a lot of either no responses or straight out rejection. Some days it’s hard to get past this and keep up my confidence to continue, especially since I’m a bit of an introvert.

What helps keep me going is when the articles I write perform really well, such as getting picked up by other publications like the Huffington Post and going viral.

I also love the blogging communities I’ve joined, both in the US and in Australia. Bloggers are very supportive of each other, so even though I spend most of my work days at home alone with a computer, I feel strongly connected to other people in my field and don’t feel disconnected as a result.

Taking the freelance route does not pay wonderfully well so far, but it’s rewarding in many ways. I make my own hours, and get to spend a lot of time with my daughter, who is now 3.5. I really enjoy what I do, too. I get a lot of joy out of seeing my articles helping people – I feel like what I’m doing now has a lot of meaning.

Are you thinking of making a career change, or trying freelance writing? I’ll be writing more in the coming weeks on tips to break into freelance writing, and other posts on what I’ve learned about digital media. If you have any questions you’d like answered, please email comment below or email me at adventurebabyblog.com.

This post was first published over on Thienlan.me.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!