2011 career highlights and what I’ve learned this year
Posted December 26th, 2011 by Sharon Green in Career Highlights
Each year I like to take the time to reflect on what I have achieved and what I have learned along the way. Often we’re so busy working away at meeting our goals – and deadlines – that we rarely stop and take a few minutes to think about how far we’ve come and how much more we still need to learn. So, I’ve put together a snapshot of what I’ve achieved, mostly for myself, but also as a way to share what I’ve learned with my readers.
A Busy Year…
I must admit, 2010 left me feeling rather burnt out – I squeezed a lot into the year that saw me work full time while completing a Master’s degree (at full time study capacity). I then decided to give up my day job in marketing to devote my time entirely to journalism, the very career path I had been working towards for the past couple of years. In early 2011, I bravely took on the freelance world with no guarantee that it would work out. But fortunately, persistence, timing and a lot of hard work helped me to take the biggest steps of my career. I was commissioned by leading Australian publications including The Age, Bride magazine and Melbourne City Newspaper. I landed a contract with Fairfax Media and completed a host of reporting for their weekly newspapers distributed across Melbourne’s west. It was here that I quickly learned about the dynamic of a newsroom and was rewarded with the responsibility of filling my own masthead, the Point Cook Weekly, for several months. This role taught me a lot about creating quality content for a local audience and gave me the confidence to select and drive the editorial independently. Between juggling these various working commitments, I maintained my feature writing role with Onya Magazine and had the pleasure of attending L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival on behalf of the publication and wrote various other features that reflected Australian life.
Big Move Abroad
In late June I embarked on an overseas trip to Europe and spent two whole months visiting inspiring cities and spending quality time with some very special friends. Part of a personal ambition of mine for 2011 was to travel and take an extended period of time off work. I wanted to rest and spend a couple of months enjoying the things I love most in life: feeling the excitement of boarding a plane, eating delicious food, being exposed to new and interesting cultures. My love affair with travelling doesn’t seem to want to disappear although, I’m certain my bank account wishes it would. For me, it’s an addiction as much as a necessity. From my years of travelling I have always taken so much more from it than I ever imagined. I always learn something new, about other people and myself. Travelling has forced me to be more open minded and has allowed me to see life from a fresh perspective. These are the very qualities that I believe have indirectly helped me with my writing, both allowing me to recognise different stories and inspiring me to come up with new ideas.
My choice to settle in London for an undecided length of time has come as part of this adventure. As one of the biggest cities in the world with one of the largest media industries, I always felt that a move to Great Britain would be necessary for career progression and the chance to acquire international work experience. Arriving in the UK in the midst of its worst unemployment in 17 years has proved difficult. I spent two months unemployed and very much doubted my decision to move here. After many stressful weeks I managed to win my first commission with a UK based publication and wrote a feature for Edge magazine about the challenges faced by young leaders in the workplace. Shortly after, I was hired full time as an online journalist at International Business Times at their London office. In a little more than two months I have written about one hundred articles and have been challenged with the pressure of hourly and daily deadlines. I was also selected as a video reporter for the IBTimes online TV channel – the first time I’ve experienced working in a TV studio and writing reports for an audience that is watching, not reading. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning new skills and expanding on my journalism experience across a new media platform but I think I still have a long way to go with the video side of things. There are so many elements I never considered with creating reports to camera such as body language, tone of voice, hand gestures, presenting information required to inform a visual audience, ideas for putting video packages together to ensure it is interesting and entertaining for viewers etc. Mastering all of this will certainly be my challenge for 2012.
Building a Small Business
With the growth of my freelance journalism and copywriting business, it has prompted me to think about creative ways to market myself and my services. I’ve been freelancing consistently for two years now and have enjoyed seeing my small business flourish as I bring new skills and confidence to it. This year I’ve welcomed new clients, had private assignments commissioned to me based purely on referrals, and seen past editors return for ongoing editorial pieces. All of this has been hugely rewarding and I’d like to think that it’s the result of years of hard work. I decided that 2011 was the year to give back to my business to help it grow and to give it some exposure. I have come to realise that freelancing is not simply about me putting my writing skills to use – it demands a host of other skills including the ability to sell myself, market my services and do all the ad-hoc tasks associated with running a small business.
Earlier this year, I hired the services of digital marketing agency Assemblo to create a professional brand and logo for my business, which I have replicated across my business cards, website and other marketing collateral. In May, I launched sharonjgreen.com – a professional website showcasing my portfolio of published work and a platform through which I can blog about current topics in the media industry. Around the same time I created a Facebook page solely dedicated to my profession. It is here that I share all my published work with my readers as well as any behind the scenes photos of my work in the media. It started slowly but over the months I have managed to build a humble following of more than 120 page ‘likes’. My Twitter has continued to grow too and with more than 1,600 followers I have a consistent audience interested in engaging with me. In the past year I have recognised the value of social media in supporting my journalism and this is an area I am keen to learn more about in 2012. In early November I purchased an advertising spot in SourceBottle’s e-newsletter as a way to market my services to a network of people in the marketing and media industry – a fitting audience who may find my skills useful. I had a great response and attracted some new clients as a result.
While I haven’t had much of a marketing budget to spend on promoting my services, I’ve done my best to allocate the money to areas that I felt would work best for me. These combined tactics have all produced small gains but are the foundations of what I require for a growing business. I can now begin 2012 with an established reputation in my industry and will continue to look for new and interesting opportunities to market myself and my business in the coming year.
What have you achieved in 2011? Have you been proud of those achievements and what have you learned? Did you start a freelance business to put your creative skills to use and if so, have you had to think about original ways to promote yourself and your skills? I’d love to hear about your experience.