How to use your passions to jumpstart a freelance writing career

For Nikka Sarthou, a freelance lifestyle and travel writer, the perfect life consists of frequent travels and the opportunity to write about her trips. Whether she is watching the French Open in Roland Garros, Paris; taking a heritage tour in Taal, Batangas; or whitewater rafting in Cagayan de Oro, Nikka travels with notebook and pen in tow, always ready for inspiration to strike. She is also a foodie and enjoys going around town sampling the latest food trends and the newest restaurants and then reviewing these for various online and print publications.

Although Nikka began her career working full-time in a publishing house, she eventually embarked on a freelance career to have the flexibility to pursue her passions while making a comfortable living. She is now Contributing Editor for Smile, Cebu Pacific’s inflight magazine, as well as content manager for the travel website OfficiallyPhilippines.com.

“Schools do not really teach its students how to go about freelance writing. I had to learn the ropes myself,” she points out. “It took me some time before I was able to have a sustainable freelance writing career, and now I’m enjoying its benefits. Since I’m now a full-time freelance writer, I get to be my own boss and marry my two other passions, which are writing and travelling.”

Ana Santos, on the other hand, embarked on a freelance writing career in a roundabout way, having been in the banking industry for nine years before finally leaving her post as Assistant Vice President of a multinational financial institution to do what she really loves to do: write and support the women’s reproductive health movement. Since taking on the plunge to write full-time and create the websitewww.sexandsensibilities.com in 2010, Ana has been invited to numerous speaking engagements and media appearances and has also been featured in Cosmo’s feature on Women Warriors  in the November 2010 issue. Ana is also a foreign correspondent for the United Nations, as well as Associate Editor ofIllustrado, a Dubai-based lifestyle magazine for Filipinos.

For her, even the perks of a bank executive—including the designated parking slot—don’t compare to the fulfilment she feels when she is able to write in support of a cause that she is truly passionate about.  However, she is quick to point out that her mix of marketing, PR, and hard-core corporate skills are useful in building her personal brand as a freelance writer.

“The marketing skills I picked up during my banking days come in handy now that I manage my own ‘by-line’ which we at Writer’s Block Philippines, liken to managing your own corporation. Thinking of writing as a career rather than a ‘gig’ or ‘sideline’ is the key to making it a sustainable passion.”

Niña Terol-Zialcita, meanwhile, fuses advocacy, travel and arts & culture in her writing, shifting easily from political writing and consulting to writing and editing travel features—sometimes in the span of a few hours. With a career that has spanned working for a telco, a non-profit consulting firm, the Philippine Senate, and a national electoral campaign, Niña finds a way to fuse her various skills and balance her many interests through freelancing.

She shares: “For someone like me who enjoys exploring many different fields and expressing myself across different disciplines, I find that freelancing has given me the opportunity to widen my network and horizons, and enhance my competencies. Writing also immerses me in the creative sphere, balancing my cutthroat political-corporate sensibilities with my need for softer artistic outlets. Even while holding a full-time Senate post, I enjoyed writing and editing for lifestyle and travel publications.”

At present, Niña is a political and corporate communications consultant while being a book author and editor-in-chief of asianTraveler Magazine.

Writer's Block Philippines

Writer’s Block Philippines: Ana Santos, Nikka Sarthou, Nina Terol-Zialcita

All three ladies are also co-founders ofWriter’s Block Philippines, an organization dedicated to helping writers and communicators sharpen their skills and find profitable, sustainable opportunities in writing. When they are not busy with their respective editorial and consulting engagements, the three conduct writing workshops to share tried-and-tested tips for breaking into the competitive world of freelance writing.

“There was a large gap in the market that we wanted to fill,” shares Ana. “While attending Maven Secrets, a course taught by Anton Diaz on professional blogging and Internet marketing, we realized that there are not enough  courses that teach people how to write and communicate better.”

Nikka adds: “We also saw throughout our respective careers that there are many opportunities for freelance writing that can fit people’s varied interests. Our courses aim to teach participants how to break into freelance writing through various channels, such as print, mobile, online, and social media.”

“More importantly, we teach our participants how to not only get published but also how to build their respective brands and how to sustain a profitable career in freelancing. This isn’t about one-shot deals but about building a life that you want out of the things that matter most to you,” reveals  Niña.

All of these elements are integrated into JUMPSTART YOUR FREELANCE WRITING CAREER 4.0, a two-day workshop designed to prepare participants for a freelance writing career through a combination of lectures, hands-on exercises, and talks by guest speakers from the industry. The next workshop will run from April 30 to May 1, 2011, 10AM to 6PM at Powerbooks Greenbelt 3, Makati City.

Testimonials from past participants show the following statements:

“Thank you for creating Writer’s Block Philippines. I’m proud to belong to a community of writers who have passion for and respect the craft. The workshop is excellent. It would be nice to have monthly meetings for follow-up.”

“Writing the pitch was really practical Also, the opportunities and advice were very structured and practical.”

“The workshop gave me a lot of information on how to really start a career as a freelance writer.”

“You guys did a great job team-teaching. You are great at conveying your enthusiasm. And it was a valuable experience. Thank you.”

Indeed, Writer’s Block Philippines and its founders have proven that it is possible to build an enjoyable and profitable career in the pursuit of one’s passions. All it takes is an acute awareness of one’s gifts and talents, an openness to keep learning, and the courage to take the inevitable leap of faith.

 

Jumpstart Your Freelance Writing Career 4.0 is supported by PowerbooksTravelife Magazine,ClicktheCity.comNiveaMiLi, and WheninManila.com. For more information, please contact Writer’s Block Philippines at (0927) 850.8280 or writersblock.ph@gmail.com. Online reservations and payments are also accepted through www.writersblockphilippines.com. For fresh updates on Writer’s Block Philippines events, follow WBP on Facebook (www.facebook.com/writersblock.ph) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/writersblockph)

 

Con Yap