It’s Valentine’s Day. If you’re paired up, congratulations! Hopefully you’re happy, and your Valentine will spoil you with a token of their appreciation – whether it’s a card, a box of chocolates, flowers, a fancy night out, or a fun night in.
I don’t have a Valentine, so I thought I’d mark the day by sharing a few thoughts about something I do love: words.
2019 marks 15 years since I graduated from J-school and launched my career as a freelance journalist.
It’s hard to believe that in 2004 Facebook was in it’s infancy. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat had yet to be launched, and mobile phones were simply used to make calls. Today, we carry the world in our pocket and spend far too much time worrying about our virtual life.
The media landscape has also changed beyond recognition since 2004. In fact, my alma matter – Western University – no longer offers an MA in journalism. It’s been replaced by a Master of Media in Journalism & Communication , which is an interesting commentary on the blurring of the lines between actual journalism and PR.
Somehow I’ve manage to write continuously through all the upheaval.
Like any job, there are days that seem to drag on forever. But overall, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to do what I do. So in honour of Saint Valentine, here are three reasons why I’m still in love with freelance writing:
I’ve written about everything from cheese to concrete. I’ve interviewed farmers, CEOs, artists, researchers, and the odd politician. Some weeks I’ll be working on a magazine article (or two), website copy, and social media posts for several different clients. Every day is different.
Some projects may be less exciting than others, but the brain-numbing ones won’t last forever and a great story may be just around the corner.
I started a full-time communications job the day after I graduated from J-school. I was also a regular contributor to several different local publications – which have all since folded or eliminated their freelance budgets.
Once my son was born I made the decision to leave the 9-to-5. At the time, it didn’t make sense to return to work just to pay for day care.
I’ve been extremely fortunate that my freelance income never had to pay the bills. But it always provided me with my own money and a connection to the outside world.
I’ve worked early in the morning and late at night. I’ve brought my laptop to the hockey rink and to the beach. I’ve done interviews from my car (parked, of course!) Last summer was the first time I closed my office for an official vacation. No one fired me – and I’m doing it again this year.
The ability to set my own hours and control my work load is one of the big advantages of working freelance. I wouldn’t trade this flexibility for the world.
The opportunity to learn.
Writing a wide variety of copy for so many different clients means that I now know a little about a lot of different things. This career path definitely takes an open mind and a willingness to learn!
I’ve also learned a lot about the art of writing over the past 15 years.
When I went to school, I studied journalism. It was a great foundation. I was taught how to research, interview, fact-check, and tell stories. But it quickly became clear that freelance journalism was not where the better-paying jobs were at.
So, I learned about PR, corporate communications and copywriting. I read books, attended seminars, and took online courses. And guess what? I discovered that I enjoy this type of writing too. And people seemed to enjoy working with me.
Today, I’m still learning. I’m currently enrolled in two online courses and I’m sure I’ll take many more. As the world of corporate communications and journalism evolves, I want my skills to keep up. And besides, it’s fun.
So from this grateful freelance writer to you – Happy Valentine’s Day! What do you love about your job?
Nicole Laidler is the owner of Spilled Ink Writing & Wordsmithing. She’s passionate about helping people tell their stories, build their brands, and grow their success one word at a time. Visit her website to see what she’s been writing lately!