Behind The Curtain: My Freelance Writing Career

I love blogging. It is my most creative writing outlet, but it’s also only half of what I do. Every morning I sit down at the computer and words pour out of me, but they don’t all make it up on here. In truth I have a thriving (knock on wood) second career writing freelance articles for companies like RoamRight, TripIt and Trivago. This freelance writing is a very large part of how I manage to make a living.

The job is a lot of work, but I feel so lucky that I get to do it, because it allows me to combine two things I’m exceptionally passionate about: writing and traveling. Also, I can work from anywhere (and I do- I’m typing this up in a Starbucks right now with several small children running around my ankles).

I really need to take more pictures of my workspace

When my friend Lisa tagged me to take part in this viral writing survey, I was psyched because I loved the idea of talking a little bit about this part of my life and my writing process. So here goes:

What Am I Working On?

I write nearly every day, but at any given moment I could be working on something different. This week for example, my to-do list includes:

  • Two blog posts for Twenty-Something Travel about my time in Chicago
  • Outlining several upcoming articles about travel blogging for one client
  • A 1250 word rush job on Tokyo hotels for another client
  • A dozen country overview articles for a third client

Of course I am procrastinating by writing this article instead.

How Does My Writing Differ From Others of its Genre?

I like to think that my voice is friendly, casual and informative. Hopefully reading a blog post from me is like reading an email from your friend. At least that is what I am striving for!

A lot of the freelance work I do is very straight-forward, informational work, without much room for creative flourishes. I try to stand apart with well-written, clear and helpful writing. I also work very hard to meet all deadlines and deliver what was promised. Sadly, this appears to put me ahead of many.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

While I would love to be writing serious, journalistic pieces for National Geographic or the Guardian, I am actually really happy with where I am right now. I enjoy writing short, informational pieces because they are quick, they feel helpful and I get to learn as I go. Recently I wrote an article on the most interesting motels in the United States, and it was fun to research some of the wackier places out there (I’m adding this one to my bucket list).

Conversely, I have my blog as a creative outlet to pour my personal stories and opinions into. It’s a pretty good balance.

By the end of this year I will have written something in the ballpark of 300 articles, ranging from 300 word hotel blurbs to 3000 word thoughtful blog posts. I love this- it makes me feel productive, and it’s difficult to get bored.

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I will just be upfront here: my writing process is absolutely terrible. I’m a terrifyingly inefficient writer, and I spend a startlingly unwise percentage of my time flipping through facebook, reading Jezebel or literally just staring into space.

Once I do get down to work, my primary objective is to get something spit out onto the page at all costs. My motto is a quote by Ernest Hemingway: “The first draft is always shit.” I remind myself of this constantly, because if I strive for anything even approximating quality in my first draft, I will get frustrated and quit. Instead I word vomit (technical term) all over the page, then go back and clean it up into something that resembles human words later on. Then I’ll do a third rewrite and edit and I’m usually good to go.

Unless I get distracted by something shiny.

Here are the writers I’ve chosen to feature, starting with Lisa, who nominated me:

Lisa Lubin

Lisa Lubin is an established travel/food writer, three-time Emmy® -award winning TV producer, and travel industry expert. After more than a decade in broadcast television she took a sabbatical of sorts which turned into nearly three years traveling and working her way around the world.  She documents her (mis)adventures on her blog, LLworldtour.com, with photographs, videos, and articles from the road/train/rickshaw/camel.  Her writing and photography has been published by American Way Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, West Jet’s UP, Smithsonian, the Malibu Times, Encyclopedia Britannica, Orbitz, Jetsetter.comand Huffington Post. Lisa also owns LLmedia, a media & video consulting business. She has spoken about video and journalism at several conferences including the Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX), the World Travel Market in London, the New York Travel Fest, the Women in Travel Summit, and “Visit Russia” in Yaroslavl.

And my nominees:

Caroline Eubanks

Caroline Eubanks is a travel blogger and freelance writer who got her start in weekly newspapers before starting her blog as a hobby. It led to writing opportunities with AFAR.com, National Geographic Traveler’s Intelligent Travel blog and US Airways Magazine, among others. She has also written travel copy for Westin Hotels, MasterCard and Eagle Creek. She is the team writer for Her Packing List and Atlanta guide editor for AFAR.com. Caroline writes about her adventures at Caroline in the City and her portfolio.

Allison Gammons

Allison Gammons is finding her way on the meandering, twisting path of life, constantly surprised by what’s around the next bend. Working to embrace and face the challenges inherent with following your dreams, she is writing the journey. Allison is a writer and dreamer, historian and theologian, academic and fantasy-world-creator, genealogist and gluten-free baker, crafter and reader, poet and life-long learner, who is constantly questioning.

Steph

Stephanie Yoder is a girl who can't sit still! She is the co-founder and editor of Why Wait To See the World. Learn more about her here.

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15 thoughts on “Behind The Curtain: My Freelance Writing Career”

  1. Your write is awesome. I love writing and often write about my travels as well. Writing is one of my pleasure as well as the way I talk to myself. You are seriously a great write. Keep it up!

  2. I’d love to get into freelancing. My expertise is India but I just feel like it’s such a saturated market. There are SO SO many India travel writers. I’ve only been blogging a little less than a year, so I’m going to hope that year number 2 brings the freelance work. It’s great to see a sneak peak into what it’s like, so thanks steph.

  3. This was an interesting read.

    I am terrible at editing, and if I’m going edit a piece I need to work a minimum of a week ahead of myself. Even for stupid things like typo’s I need to look at it with fresh eyes after I’ve written it. Otherwise, no editing! I don’t really know why (it could be a lot to do with the fact I need to wear glasses more often than I actually do….)

  4. Love this article! I similarly “word vomit” and then edit later. I think I like the editing part better than the original writing because I’m such a organizational minimalist neat freak!

  5. I love this Steph. Thanks for sharing your process and what you’re working. I always find it helpful to hear how creative people are making a living out of what they love.

  6. What a fabulous read, Steph. I really enjoyed this and it left me feeling really inspired! Thanks a lot for sharing more info about your writing process – clearly I’m not the only one who enjoyed the article 🙂

    The only criticism I have is your use of apostrophes – I hate to be a grammar nazi, but as a freelance writer you should try to eliminate mistakes such as writing “it’s” instead of “its” and “writer’s” instead of “writers”. What do I know – maybe it was an autocorrect glitch! Sorry if this comment made me come off as completely bitchy, but if I was making these mistakes I’d also want someone to point them out to me! 🙂

  7. Nice to read about your freelance writing. I always struggle with the balance between writing for myself and for others, which I assume you can relate to as well!

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