After ten years of freelance life as a writer and online editor for national press I decided to go in-house, full time and permanent. A big move. But it was a decision I’d been contemplating for perhaps 18 months or so, and finally the right job came along, as commercial editor at Hearst.
People usually do it the other way around – they’ll spend years grinding away at the 9-5 and finally release themselves to new and more flexibility ways of working through a freelance role. For me it was the opposite.
I’d spent years carving an amazing freelance career that worked with my passions in health, beauty, fitness and wellness. I’d worked my way up from beauty writer/assistant to web editor and digital director and eventually set up my own digital consultancy advising small to medium brands on digital and social media projects.
I had freedom, flexibility, fun, countless perks and great contacts but I knew it was time to switch. Here’s why…..
✨I wanted a new challenge
After years of establishing myself within health, beauty and wellness I didn’t want my next move to be too far away from these subjects that I loved. But I needed an environment that would open up new learning opportunities.
That’s one of my rules of thumb on deciding whether to stay or move on: is there more to learn or have I reached a plateau? I definitely felt like I’d reached a plateau with the type of work and contract roles I was getting.
I’ve always been good at forging new paths or diversifying my skills but this time I knew the next role wouldn’t be wildly different or teach me anything significantly new. There was nothing wrong with those roles but it wasn’t a path that would help me grow personally or professionally.
📈I wanted to future-proof my career
Over the course of a decade I became quite adept at reflecting on where I was professionally and find ways to keep opportunities flowing. Branching out and diversifying into digital and commercial work (I originally started out on print editorial) definitely helped make freelance life more successful as I had my fingers in lots of different pies, but this time I needed a bigger change.
I took a mental snapshot five years into the future and knew I had to future-proof my career. One option was to grow my freelance business into a bigger brand but I knew this wasn’t a direction I was interested in. The other option was to fill in gaps in my CV to ensure I had a whole spectrum of professional experience to take me into the future. I had plenty of experience working with start-ups (mainly in the beauty industry) but I had no work history with larger corporates so I kind of knew what I had to do.
✋🏽I wanted to stop hustling for work
This point was part of my five-year vision into the future. Did I still want to be looking for contract work every 12-18 months? No. And how did I feel about doing more editorial, which I loved, but with rates so low they can barely pay a mortgage? Definitely wasn’t keen on that. So I no longer wanted to hustle.
💵I wanted HR and payroll
I’d had my fair share of chasing invoices big and small. Late payments or at worse, no pay, was definitely something I was happy to leave behind in return for a guaranteed drop of money into my account each month, no pleading needed.
🤓 I wanted processes and systems
Seems like an odd thing to want but after years of free, fluid and organic ways of working I actually just wanted a good process to follow. At the time I loved the ad-hoc working style adopted by small organisations and start-ups and for a long time this work culture really suited me, but eventually I started craving structure and organisation. I simply wanted to learn more organised and more efficient ways of doing things.
👫I wanted to work with more senior people
I was often the most senior person on a team, sharing my digital skills and experiences with others and for several years I loved doing this. I enjoyed training up junior staff and writing strategy documents and toolkits for brands and PRs but I reached a point where I knew I had to learn more myself.
I wanted to be in an environment where there were people more senior than me to learn from. I’m slightly obsessed with learning so this was a big pull.
💥I wanted to work on bigger projects
Small organisations usually means small budgets. I had plenty of ideas and creative solutions but the issue of limited resources would always hold us back. For years this didn’t bother me but eventually I wanted to work on bigger brands and bigger budgets, not just for the kudos and clout but to challenge my thinking and ways of working.
Essentially what all of these points boil down to is a need to keep learning, growing and evolving, as a person and in my career, which is pretty much essential for work survival (and in general life!).
I wouldn’t change a single thing from my years as a freelancer – even the trials and struggles, especially in the beginning years, all lead to an accumulation of valuable experience.
Eight months in, I’m still super happy in my role at Hearst – I’m commercial editor for Women’s Health, Runner’s World and other titles – as I take on all the amazing health and fitness branded campaigns, from Nike and New Balance to Imodium and Deep Freeze. It brings together all my interests and professional skills and gives me the large scale experience I was so keen to find.
I’m not as restricted as I imagined I would be either, as our projects and campaigns change so regularly and each one is entirely different; plus we have the capacity to be as creative as we want. A dream set up.
So it was totally worth holding out for the right role in the end!