/  Editing   /  Meet the speakers: Carrie Hutchinson

Meet the speakers: Carrie Hutchinson

You’re a senior editor, journalist and author. What do you love about what you do?

The variety of work. Even in a single day. Today, I’ll answer this questionnaire and keep thinking about my presentation at the Summit, finish a travel story, and begin writing some web copy and Facebook posts for a client. I spend some days working in my home office, a couple of days working in a client’s office and sometimes I work while travelling. It’s always changing.

What have been the highlights of your career so far?

There is so much career to choose from… A couple of years ago I won the International Food Wine Travel Writers Association Excellence in Journalism Award, which was really exciting. I’ve been to some places as a travel writer I could never have dreamed of going had I not been invited. But I think working on some incredible client publications – and embracing new technology and platforms – gave me a new lease on career life when I was at a crossroads and wondering what to do next. 

Working on some incredible client publications – and embracing new technology and platforms – gave me a new lease on career life when I was at a crossroads and wondering what to do next.

What skills do you think are the most important for freelancers to acquire?

Marketing yourself! Obviously, you have to keep up with whatever is happening in your field, but unless people know what you can do, it can be hard to meet your perfect clients. The other aspect of freelancing life you absolutely have to master is knowing your worth and quoting accordingly. This has nothing to do with what everyone else is charging and everything to do with the amount of money you want to earn.

Here’s a quick way to work out your internal hourly rate (always quote a project fee if you can)…

The amount of money you want to earn in a year / (52 weeks – the number of weeks you want to take off each year / number of hours a week you’ll work = hourly rate

$100K / (52 – 6 i.e. 46) / (4 days a week x 4 hours a day i.e. 16) = $135 an hour

Why four hours a day? Because you’ll likely sit at your desk for eight hours, but you have to take into account time for planning, admin and, the freelancer’s curse, procrastination.

Why do you think the Summit is important for freelancers?

Apart from the fact that it’s brilliant to be able to chat to lots of other people who have taken the same path as you – and who often work in quite solitary ways – you can never stop learning. I’ve been in the industry for almost 30 years and every time I do a course or go to a conference, I discover a new way to make my working life better and more efficient. 

You can never stop learning. I’ve been in the industry for almost 30 years and every time I do a course or go to a conference, I discover a new way to make my working life better and more efficient.

The conference theme is all about futureproofing your career. What steps are you taking to futureproof your own?

Until a couple of years ago, I was working in print. There are obviously still print journalists and editors around, but the job market in that realm has been drying up for years. In the past year, I’ve added basic SEO to my copywriting, which has been invaluable, plus I’ve been trying to improve my skills making reels and using Canva.

You have both edited magazines and been a long-term freelancer. What insights does that give you? 

Being an editor has taught me how to be a good freelancer. There is nothing an editor loves more than a freelancer who ‘gets’ the publication, pitches great ideas (not too many), and hands in copy that needs almost no work (i.e. it’s on time, lands on the word count and has been fact-checked and finessed). It’s also taught me editors are human. If you’re sick or have something going on in your life that means you can’t hit a deadline, let them know early enough to implement a back-up plan. They understand; they’ll have been in the same position themselves. Just be reliable. Often, that’s all an editor needs.  

There is nothing an editor loves more than a freelancer who ‘gets’ the publication, pitches great ideas (not too many), and hands in copy that needs almost no work.

What are your thoughts on AI / ChatGPT?

I’ve not played around with it very much. It sounds like a dream come true for people who need copy, but I’d be careful with it. It’s merely an aggregation of what’s already on the internet, so it can include errors and might not have the latest information. You could perhaps use it as an outline then add your own research and information from experts you’ve interviewed. Where it will never replace a good writer is when it comes to publications and clients who want stories and copy with personality, a unique viewpoint and a specific TOV. Maybe AI will be able to replicate that one day, but it’s not happening yet.

Do you think the future is exciting for freelancers, and if so, why?

It’ll be an exciting time for freelancers who treat their freelancing as a business. Content is king, and if you can show potential clients how the work you produce can help their business you’ll always have work. That means having a great website, keeping LinkedIn up to date, working social media, finding a great accountant and looking after your finances from the start, putting yourself out there (at conferences, on podcasts, as a media expert) and, really importantly, looking after your own physical and emotional health so you can work to your best potential. 

Content is king, and if you can show potential clients how the work you produce can help their business you’ll always have work.

What are you most looking forward to about the Summit?

Catching up with everyone! I’m in Melbourne and a lot of my friends and colleagues are in Sydney. There’s no way I can stress enough how important it is to have people around you who know what you do – let’s face it, most of our family members don’t – so you can download, chat about the good and bad of work, and have a laugh.

Comments
  • Richard Asher
    1 year ago

    Nice to see you pop up Carrie, I remember doing a few columns for you on Get Lost – good to put a face to a name!

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