KS: Why did you decide to go freelance?
Carla AvoIio: I left my job as a communications manager at the University of Sydney when my husband got a job in Osaka. Initially, doing freelance writing was my way of working without needing to find an “actual” job in a Japanese organisation. But after my demanding, high-intensity job, I have so enjoyed the change of pace from freelancing that I’m not sure if I’ll ever go back.
KS: What are the biggest positives and negatives?
CA: By far the best thing is the flexibility. You are your own boss. You can pick what projects to work on, how to structure your day, and what direction to head in for the future. There really is nothing more satisfying than to spend time researching and writing about something that interests you, and then to be paid for it at the end. Also, the fact that you can do it from anywhere in the world that has internet is pretty amazing. But you can’t escape the fact that it is also a lonely job. There is no office to go into where you can bounce ideas off people, and you generally have to find your own work. It can get quite tiring having to be so self reliant and self-motivated every day.
KS: How do you go about getting new work?
CA: Most jobs require you to pitch an idea to an editor. You really need to be out there, day in, day out, selling your ideas and convincing people to publish them. Being able to craft a good pitch is so important to your success as a freelance writer.
KS: How do you work out your salary or rates?
CA: Fees are usually done based on word count, and obviously the better publications will have higher rates per word. But my advice is that when you are starting out freelancing, don’t worry too much about rates. Just focus on finding a publication and writing the best story you can for them. That way you’ll have something in your bio to show the next editor.
KS: What about all the extra admin?
CA: It is quite easy as a freelancer to write for publications around the world. Most bigger publications will be able to pay into foreign bank accounts. Because I always get paid into my Australian bank account, I only have to worry about tax in my home country.
KS: What’s an average day or week like for a freelance writer?
CA: The weeks change a lot depending on the demands of each project, but I pretty much always do the following things: read, read and read the news to get story ideas; spend time at my desk researching and writing; interview sources; and go out in the “field”. This field work is the most fun because it can take you anywhere from behindthe- scenes at a zoo, to a fine dining restaurant, to a resort on a tropical island.
KS: What’s the most interesting thing you’ve written about?
CA: I’m a zoology major, so the best project for me was writing about the largest population of freshwater crocodiles in Australia. I spent a week living by a lake in the stunning Kimberleys with researchers. The experience of hand-catching baby crocodiles was unforgettable.
The Write Move: pursuing a career as a freelance writer
Carla Avolio will be the guest presenter at this month’s Kansai Scene Business Matters event. Come and join us for a practical seminar on how to start making money from writing, followed by a networking opportunity.
• Date: June 20 (Thu)
• Time: 7:30–9:30pm
• Entry: ¥2,000 w/1d
• Venue: FuBar, Shinsaibashi, Osaka
For full details and registration, visit: