/  2024   /  Quick chat with Michelle Bateman

Quick chat with Michelle Bateman

You’ve been a journalist and content marketing writer for many years. What do you love about what you do?
I work primarily in commercial content – mostly content marketing but also copywriting for businesses and writing advertorials for all the big publishers. I don’t only write, but also edit client magazines and big content marketing projects for top-tier companies. The industries I tend to focus on are beauty, health, design and other lifestyle-related fields.

I love researching new topics, interviewing experts and hearing their stories, whether it’s a scientist who has developed a new skincare ingredient, a heritage architect working on a conservation project, or a doctor speaking about the benefits of ice baths (I’m still not sold on them!). I enjoy wrestling with the best way to tell a story – how to structure the narrative and what tone to use.

Working in commercial content, I also find the challenge of commercial considerations to be very rewarding.

I love finding a way to help a business meet its goals while creating stories and content that readers genuinely want to read and engage with.

What have been the highlights of your career so far?
Running a successful freelance business for more than 20 years is my biggest highlight and something I feel incredibly proud of.

Leading content projects for some of the biggest companies in Australia is another highlight. I feel especially proud to have had the opportunity to put three up-and-coming female musicians on the covers of Coles Health & Beauty magazine while I was the editor, including Akosia and First Nations artists Emily Wurramara and Bumpy.

Finally, I still get a kick out of seeing my byline in publications I admire, like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Australian Financial Review.

Have you always worked for yourself? What do you enjoy about freelancing?
Not always, but almost – I’ve been self-employed for a little over 20 years.

I got my first taste of working for myself after graduating from uni, when I co-founded a free street press magazine (this was in the 90s, prime time for street press). Calling it hands-on would be an understatement: we had a small team of writers but I edited it, designed the layouts and even helped sell the advertising. It was a lot of fun and gave me a well-rounded view of publishing but ultimately, I wanted more experience so I worked full-time as a magazine editor for seven or eight years before going freelance in 2004.

Day-to-day, I enjoy the autonomy and variety of freelance work; being able to work my own hours, gain experience across so many different types of content projects and work with a range of talented, inspiring people along the way.

On a macro level, I enjoy that successful freelancing requires a mix of vocational and entrepreneurial skills. I love pitching for new work and still get a thrill every time I win a new client or project.

What skills do you think are the most important for freelancers to acquire?
People and communication skills will get you a long way as a freelancer. Editors and agencies are busier than ever so it’s important to figure out the best way to communicate and work with them, which often means doing so on their terms. If you work directly with clients, you need to understand what’s important to them and how to communicate what you do in a way that will resonate.

Being good at what you do is no longer enough – you must be able to put yourself out there and tell (time-poor) people about it too.

Why do you think the Summit is important for freelancers?
It’s like the saying goes: if you can see it, you can be it.

The Summit is valuable for not only developing the practical skills that are currently in demand in our industry but, just as importantly, to hear how others have done it and the mindset they had along the way.

I mention mindset because it’s such an important factor in success and it can be challenging to maintain a growth mindset in isolation. If you need to reinvigorate your enthusiasm for freelancing, there’s no better way to do it than attending an inspiring industry event like the Summit.

The conference theme is all about futureproofing your career. What steps are you taking to futureproof your own?
Last year I chose to leave the security of a big freelance client in favour of more time to pursue a greater variety of freelance work. So I’ve been honing my pitching skills and focusing on building up a roster of fabulous new clients. Having my eggs spread across more baskets, so to speak, feels like a smart way of future proofing right now.

Do you think the future is exciting for freelancers, and if so, why?
Our entire industry has been going through massive change over the past few years and shows no sign of slowing down. This can feel daunting but with change comes huge opportunities.

Personally, I’ve always enjoyed parlaying my core journalism skills into new areas so the future feels very exciting, especially as we have even better tools (generative AI, workflow planning) to work with.

What are you most looking forward to at the Summit?
I was overseas for last year’s Summit and had serious FOMO so I can’t wait to fully immerse myself this year. The keynote by Austin L. Church is sure to be a highlight. I’ve devoured his book and listened to many podcast interviews with Austin – he never fails to spark new ideas and makes me feel excited about freelancing all over again.

As a bit of a process junkie, I’m also keen for the panel session on day two about systems and procedures for freelance businesses.

Michelle is Day 1 panelist for How to find corporate and B2B content work.

Find out more about Michelle on her
profile page or via her website.

Post a Comment