DiversityJobs network is now part of Circa. Learn More.
find jobs
job title, keywords or company
city, state or zip code

Have you ever considered a career as a bilingual professional writer? In this interview, a writer of German ancestory tells what her five-year career has been like as a freelance journalist. She embraces the challenges of writing on various subjects, and cherishes the opportunity to be at home with her family while working.

Q: What is your job title and what industry do you work in? How many years of experience do you have in this field? How would you describe yourself using only three adjectives?

A: I am a freelance writer/editor and I mainly work from home. I've been writing all my life, but have been in the freelance field for about five years. Using three adjectives, I would describe myself as hard-working, determined, and creative.

Q: What’s your ethnicity and gender? How has it hurt or helped you? If you ever experienced discrimination, how have you responded and what worked best?

A: I am a female Caucasian from the United States, but I am also fluent in German. My great-grandparents immigrated to the US from Germany, and in our family a strong emphasis was placed on learning and using the language of our ancestors. Because I mainly work from home, discrimination isn't as big an issue as it would be if I worked in a community setting. My clients generally don't ask me for much background information. I did write a series of articles for a plumbing website once. The client contacted me via e-mail every few days to let me know what a great job I was doing and always seemed to refer to me as male. Because I felt that my gender was irrelevant to the content I was writing, I didn't correct him. He did request a telephone conference once, however, and my cover was blown! He didn't discriminate against me. As a matter of fact, I think he got a little kick out of the fact that he had a 30 year old single mother of three writing his plumbing articles!

Q: How would you describe what you do? What does your work entail? Are there any common misunderstandings you want to correct about what you do?

A: I love this question! First and foremost, writers are NOT CRAZY! The movie and television industries portray us as lunatics and egomaniacal jerks, but this simply isn't true! As a freelance writer, I have written everything from novellas to short, 100-word internet articles and I am still just as sane as the day I started! Freelance writers accept work from clients who need something written. This could be anything from a 50-page research paper to a 100-word search engine optimization article. I do my own research based upon the client's needs, and then write a creative yet informative piece. The client then purchases that article from me and is able to put his or her own name on it as the author. I generally work about 50 hours per week and most of the work that I do is from home. Most of my communication is done over e-mail or via the telephone. Being bilingual helps in these situations because the client is more easily able to portray what he or she needs in his or her native language. In this line of business, getting the instructions down the first time means everything!

Q: On a scale of 1 to 10 how would you rate your job satisfaction? What might need to change about your job to unleash your full enthusiasm?

A: I would rate my job satisfaction at a 9. My kids are all under the age of 10 and they love my flexibility. They call me supermom! I volunteer as a crossing guard at their school in the mornings and afternoons are usually spent coming and going from extra-curricular activities. If I can't sleep at 3am I can do some research or writing! I wouldn't really change anything about my job, but I'd love to have a giant office with a huge aquarium! Then, I'd be able to say that I wouldn't change a thing!

Q: If this job moves your heart – how so? Ever feel like you found your calling or sweet spot in life? If not, what might do it for you?

A: I have absolutely found my calling. I knew in elementary school that I would be a writer. There is nothing like being able to express yourself through words on a page. Even when I'm writing about something that most people would find mundane I am able to put my own personal spin on it to make it more interesting for the reader. As an avid reader myself, I know how important this is. Who wants to read a list of facts, figures, and statistics? Certainly not me!

Q: Is there anything unique about your situation that readers should know when considering your experiences or accomplishments?

A: Oh, most definitely! I am a single mother of three small children! It's taken a long time to be able to get to the point where I can effectively juggle everything, but the rewards are tremendous! All it takes is a little hard work and determination!

Q: How did you get started in this line of work? If you could go back and do it differently, what would you change?

A: I started writing in second grade. It started with poetry pieces and short little essays and blossomed from there. I wouldn't change anything. I was lucky to have teachers that worked with me and encouraged me to become what I am today!

Q: What did you learn the hard way in this job and what happened specifically that led up to this lesson?

A: I learned that you can't be a slacker! In this job, there is no such thing as nine to five! You have to be your own boss and set goals for yourself or you'll never get anywhere! Once I had an essay that was about 20 pages to write in a week. It was about fashion trends, which is something that I enjoy writing about. I didn't set goals, however, and found myself struggling at the end of the week. I didn't get the assignment finished, and all the last minute work I did was in vain. The essay went to someone else and I lost credibility with that client. From that point forward I learned to set specific goals (i.e., daily word counts) for every single assignment.

Q: What is the single most important thing you have learned outside of school about the working world?

A: Ha ha! That is a great question! I've learned that you have to be the best at what you do. Freelance writers are a dime a dozen, but with some prospecting and really good sample pieces I've managed to win over some very important clients!

Q: What’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you in this job?

A: A newer client contacted me for a series of articles that were going to be used on his new website about hair care products. He asked me if I would be willing to write each and every article on the website, and I obliged. He sent them all to my inbox, over 30 of them, and they were all due the NEXT DAY! At first I thought he was serious so I worked my tail off. He contacted me halfway through and told me that he meant to give me a week to get them all done. What a relief that was!

Q: Why do you get up and go to work each day? Can you give an example of something that really made you feel good or proud?

A: I get up and work everyday for my children. It means everything to me to be able to provide for them. Recently, all three of them wanted to join gymnastics. It was a humbling moment to be able to go into the gymnasium and pay for all three of them in advance.

Q: What kind of challenges do you handle and what makes you want to just quit?

A: I've never wanted to quit! The worst challenges are when my computer is on the blink or there is an internet outage. I have to load up all my materials and head to the library! I've wanted to quit my internet company, but I've never wanted to quit writing!

Q: How stressful is your job? Are you able to maintain a comfortable or healthy work-life balance? How?

A: My job is not very stressful. That's why I love it! I can put in as many or as few hours as I want!

Q: What’s a rough salary range for the position you hold? Are you paid enough and/or happy living within your means?

A: There really isn't a salary range for a freelance writer. My salary range is whatever I want it to be depending on the amount of work I am able to produce for my clients.

Q: How much vacation do you take? Is it enough?

A: This will actually be the first year since my children have been born that we're taking a vacation! It'll probably be something simple, but at this point, I'll take camping out in my backyard!

Q: What education and skills do you need to get hired and succeed in this field?

A: Personally, I've found that education level has very little to do with my employability. As long as you have good spelling and grammar skills and can be creative with any topic handed to you, you can do this!

Q: What would you tell a friend considering your line of work?

A: I'd absolutely tell them to take a few writing courses, start reading their favorite books, and seriously consider being a freelance writer! The flexibility and rewards just can't be matched in any other profession.

Q: If you could write your own ticket, what would you like to be doing in five years?

A: Exactly what I'm doing now, except in a huge office with an aquarium. I wouldn't change a thing!