Here's why I started #AFreelancersLife: To highlight different freelancers every month from & around Vienna from all sorts of backgrounds and pick their brains about what they do and how they do it. Check out all previous featured freelancers right here. If you would like to be featured just drop me a line and let me know! Today's post features Sarah, whose job not only sounds really fun but also truly delicious: as a food writer, she talks about her education and experience, the activities her freelance work entails and how she manages to continously find inspiration around her.
How long have you been a freelancer and what exactly is it that you do?
This March, I’ll be celebrating 2 years of running my business “Satt getextet” – even though it feels more like 6 months. I like to introduce myself as a writer for the food and restaurant industry, because it neatly sums up the services I provide: As a copywriter, I support producers and restaurateurs with their marketing and communication efforts, as a freelance journalist, I write culinary stories and columns for magazines and blogs and as an author, I published my novel “Who the f*** is Heidi?” in 2014 – which definitely wasn’t my last one.
How does your typical work day look like, if there is one at all?
I don’t really have a typical work day – but I definitely follow a deliberate morning routine. I like to take an hour for breakfast where I cook porridge, put on my Bialetti, froth up milk, leaf through magazines or listen to a podcast. If I’m on a deadline, I might actually have a glass of wine instead of coffee in the morning while making notes! After that, I can be found in my home office, on the couch, out for a run or a spin on the bike, or co-working with clients and partners. There always has to be time for a lunch break – I love taking the time to cook with my boyfriend, prepare a meal for “Bio-Mittagspause”, a series of blog posts I publish on “Ja! Natürlich” or meet up with friends or colleagues. After spending the afternoon working, I often head out to a tasting, a presentation or a press event in the evening.
What does your freelancing work entail?
The beauty of being a food writer is being constantly surrounded by amazing products and inspiring makers and creators. My main task is to give them a voice, bring out the most interesting parts of their story and share it in a simple yet effective way. This includes creating concepts, tasting, meeting with people, reading, researching, and writing – from blog posts to website copy to brochures to newsletters and social media posts.
What has been your biggest highlight so far as a freelancer?
Every time I come home at night and think “Wow! A few years ago, these people were my idols, and now I get to work with them.” Every time on a sunny afternoon I simply decide to get up, leave everything and go for a run. And every time a client tells me how much he loves my writing. And then there’s this little project called “Vienna Food Quest” – but more on that later.
How does your previous education & experience tie in with your current freelancer work?
Basically, I followed the valuable advice of one my lecturers at the Werbe Akademie: “Don’t waste your time with studying how to write. Find a topic that you love, become an expert and write about it.” After turning my back on working for agencies, I interned at Swiss cheesemakers Jumi who sent me to London to sell their cheese on markets. This sparked my enthusiasm for great food and led me to complete a Master’s degree at the University of Gastronomic Sciences where I had the chance of meeting countless farmers, producers and restaurateurs from all over the world. Back in Vienna, figuring out who I wanted to write for was not difficult at all – today, I am lucky to count winemakers, bakers, deli store owners, organic granola producers as well as an organic meat delivery among my clients.
Do you sometimes have motivational lows, and if so, what do you do to get out of your low?
My main source of motivation is inspiration. I find it in podcasts and exhibitions, during walks through my neighborhood, while working out or when exchanging ideas and opinions with friends and colleagues who themselves work on fascinating projects and literally infect me with their enthusiasm and imagination. It’s one of my basic principles to work when I’m inspired and not necessarily when I think I should work. If I find myself motivated to write an article on a Sunday night, I will do so simply because it will come a lot more naturally than forcing myself to write it on Monday morning.
What do you love about being a freelancer? What do you hate?
My FM4 poster reminds me of one of the biggest pros: “You’re at home, baby!” I really love switching between my desk, the couch, my arm chair and my dinner table when working. The fact that I can choose when to work and who to work with is also fantastic. The most exciting thing about freelancing though is the variety of amazing people I get to work with and learn from – whether that’s about wine, cheese, or life itself. I guess bookkeeping is high up on everyone’s list of cons – but after two years and having found a tax advisor that I can trust, it’s not too bad. My main challenge is actually being a good boss to myself: While there is no one forcing you to do overtime against your will, there’s also no one to send you home early and take care of your work for you.
How do you structure your days?
My daily structure is made up by different deadlines – first things first. I like to collect all my meetings in one or two days of the week. During breaks, I like to make sure that they are real ones – so no updating Facebook or Instagram, no checking the to-do-list. Having lots of mini-breaks would actually take my mind off of things too much, so I tend to extend my lunch or coffee break in the afternoon instead.
Which are your favorite 3 websites or apps you’re using on a regular basis?
Whenever I find myself out of words, Wortschatz / Uni Leipzig helps me with synonyms. Mailchimp is a great tool for creating and sending out lots of newsletters for my clients – and the mobile app works great too. My third one is a very basic one: My phone’s flight mode. To be unavailable for calls, texts, WhatsApp or Facebook messages while simultaneously not being able to procrastinate on social media makes me incredibly efficient at work.
Tell us about an exciting project you have worked on which made you proud.
The Vienna Foodie Quest is my passion project - or “Crowd fooding project”, as I like to call it – which I founded in 2015. It’s a charitable scavenger hunt which sends teams on a race through Vienna where they can discover amazing culinary projects and companies in the city. They get to look behind the scenes and taste delicious food and drinks – and the admission for the scavenger hunt is then donated to the Slow Food International Project “10.000 gardens in Africa”. Last year, we were able to finance two gardens in Kenia - this year, we hopefully be able to do even more. The next Vienna Foodie Quest will take place on June 11 – all foodies who want to celebrate Vienna’s diverse culinary culture and support a great cause are most welcome to attend! It will definitely be a day filled with delicious fun. More information can be found on www.foodiequest.at and Facebook.
What about you - are you toying with the idea of going freelance? If so, I'd be happy to help you get started! I recently launched two workshops for freelancers which can help you find your niche, your position, and your strategy. Get in touch with me now so we can change things up in 2016!