In five words how would you describe life as a freelance writer and consultant?
I don't miss company meetings!
When and why did you decide to strike out on your own?
I was laid off during the publishing recession of 2001 (in May of that year). I picked up some research and consulting projects because I was well known in the chain drug store industry after being the Editor-in-Chief of Drug Store News. In 2002, I was approached by a former Drug Store News competitor to act as a part-time editor and my freelance writing career evolved from there. It was more of a process than a "decision."
What sort of content are you keen to feature?
Currently, I'm writing about business media (trade publishing companies and general business titles such as Bloomberg Businessweek, Forbes, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal). I specialize in digital and mobile media within this realm. I'm also interested in startups that are b2b (such as PandoDaily and BusinessInsider), producers of b2b trade shows, and companies with new business models that are similar to b2b media (specialty search engines, for example).
I am also hoping to expand my client base, so there could be additional specialties to come.
What do you wish you were covering more of?
New and innovative companies, particularly with a mobile bent.
New clients for which I would appreciate leads would be in the green/environmental energy space, building and construction, and retail. I have also written profiles for general business publications and would like more of them.
What are some of the challenges facing freelancers?
The economy, the economy, the economy. This could be both good and bad. Bad if there's less work (which may be the case on an individual company basis), but good if more media companies are doing more outsourcing as they cut staffs or stop replacing people who leave.
And the perks?
- Not commuting is #1.
- Not being pulled into unproductive meetings that prevent me from actually doing work is #2.
- Not dealing with office politics is #3.
How can PRs help with content?
Prerequisite: Connect with good, competent writers whose work you have reviewed. Focus on building relationships with the good-to-great ones.
- Find out what the writer is currently covering
- Find out if the writer is interested in branching out into new and different areas (and, if so, what they are)
- Connect them with content that is relevant to what they write, or, if they are open
- Help them connect to other media outlets that might need freelance help--especially in categories where YOU have clients--and you and all your clients will earn incredible good will in that writer's mind.
How and when is the best way for PRs to contact you?
What should PRs bear in mind when pitching in story ideas?
The categories about which I write and the clients for whom I usually work.
What industry publications do you read and respect for their content or style?
TechCrunch, BusinessInsider, some contributors from Forbes, New York Times, some from The Huffington Post.
Do you have any guilty pleasure reading?
The only time I usually get to do non-work reading is at the gym, and People is easy to read on a machine.
What is the best thing about doing your job?
Learning new things and getting to know new people. Journalism is an avenue for learning about anything, and b2b media is the best way to learn things you never thought you would ever want to know.