Now and then I find myself explaining the background scenario of my work as an arts & culture writer. On social media, it can appear that I’m simply gallivanting around the world without a care.
The reality is that sharing the experience with a little bit of marketing skill through multiple social media channels is part of my job. Of course I’m thrilled that I have the opportunity through my background and experience and technology to be able to write about art, culture, photography and travel around the world, but you’d have to go back 36 years or so to middle school and high school writing and journalism classes & being inspired by my father’s photography to get to the beginning the path to where I am now.
Only about 25% of my time is spent on freelance assignments. I have a 30-hour-per-week contract with two nonprofits in Portland that is my base income. Â And the assignments aren’t typically handed out like candy. I have to work hard for them, pitching editors constantly. Every time I send a pitch to a new editor, I have to include a compelling cover letter, relevant published writing samples and a pitch that’s perfect for them right at that moment. It’s like applying for a job every time while also trying to hit a bullet with a bullet. The competition is fierce.
I’m currently in Mexico City and for this trip, I bought an inexpensive round trip ticket on sale ($300 RT from Portland to Mexico City via Delta and Aeromexico) and worked like crazy to build an assignment around five whirlwind days. (At other times, I build additional work and travel around an assignment). I left on a Wednesday and am returning on a Tuesday, so that I could still pop into my office in Portland a couple of days each week. I did a mad dash of research, connecting dots between people I know at home and abroad — friends, editors, colleagues and others — and created a trip that will result in six or seven assignments, plus material for my blog from this one short adventure. I got in touch with two photographers working here in the city who I found through research and connections, discovered a great B&B (The Red Tree House) that I’ll also be writing about & am touring with a guide service owned by amazing locals (Citli Tours) I found via a former co-worker when I did marketing for a bank in Vancouver, Washington.
I’ve toured the city, hunted down great restaurants, gone out Ubering on my own, conducted interviews in the courtyard of my B&B and chatted with fellow guests to keep the research pipes open & am looking forward to a day of people watching & photography today at Basilica de Guadalupe where at least 30 masses are held every day of the year. Who knows what could transpire there for yet another assignment.
Buenos dÃas! I encourage everyone to follow their dreams, but don’t expect success without hard work, sacrifice & openness and constant adaptation to technology, cultural norms and work standards such as publishing expectations (ever changing writing guidelines).
Elbow grease, as they say, wins the day.