Emma is a journalist, sub editor and copywriter. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from La Trobe University.
Emma's love affair with glossy magazines began when she received her first DOLLY magazine at 13 and since then, she devours up to 20 magazines a month (which now have the added bonus of being tax deductible!).
Emma's work has appeared in Notebook, Cleo, Cosmopolitan, Women’s Health & Fitness, Wellbeing, Jetstar, Good Health, HealthSmart, Emirates Bride, Australian Natural Health, Studio Brides, Studio Bambini, Bambini Directory, Perfect Wedding, Masters of Cuisine, My Wedding, Melbourne Bride, Black+White, Diane, Fitness First, Balance, Holidays for Couples, Wellplan, A&K, Fitness Life, Music Australia Guide, En Route, Stratosphere and Body Fit.
1. How did you discover you wanted to be a writer?
Strangely enough it took me awhile to figure out I wanted to be a full-time writer/journalist, although it should have clicked early on as I was always writing short stories and devouring as many books and magazines as I could get my hands on! At 17 I started writing for street presses for free (and for free gig tickets), but I always just viewed it as a hobby. Then I realised, hang on - I can make money from this!
2. In which other fields have you worked? How did you transition into becoming a freelancer?
While completing my degree I did a short internship with Network Ten News, before being offered a job as a production and news research assistant for 5pm News and 9am with David and Kim.
After two years with Ten, I moved to Sydney where I became features writer and sub editor at Studio Magazines, before returning to Melbourne to work for Private Media (http://www.smartcompany.com.au/) as their chief sub editor. During my time at Studio I started regularly freelancing for other magazines, and now I just freelance as much as I can while subbing full-time.
3. What were your first goals as a writer?
When I first started writing at 17 I was doing it all for free so to finally be paid for my first piece was huge at the time!
4. What was your first paid (or breakthrough) article? How did it come about?
I first started getting published in all of Studio magazines as I was their full-time feature writer, but my first commissioned piece was something I did for Jetstar. Because by that time I had a pretty full portfolio I was able to start pitching with work to show editors, which suggested my writing was publishable!
5. What is the most enjoyable article you have written?
I probably enjoy writing first person pieces the most – as it’s from your point of view and you don’t need to find interviewees, research, etc, it’s easy to bang out a piece fairly quickly. I did a story for Wellbeing about my stay at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat, which was fun to write.
6. How can a beginner writer compose a winning query letter?
When pitching to editors keep your email brief and always mind your manners - it goes a long way! Keep pitches to about two or three sentences, with a working title and suggested word length.
7. How has your Bachelor's Degree in Journalism helped you establish your career?
I think these days a journalism degree is pretty much a prerequisite. You can still definitely crack the media industry by working your way up the food chain, or completing any kind of degree really, but it just sets the foundations. You learn the basics and get to hone your writing skills.
8. What's your best tip for beginner freelance writers?
I think you really have to have a genuine love for writing to really make it. You can't just decide to be a writer because you love seeing your byline in a magazine!
The best way to get published and then eventually paid for it is to start out writing for free. There are loads of reputable websites that accept content and once you build up a healthy portfolio, you are much better placed to start pitching ideas for paid work.
Also, scour news sites to see what's happening in the world and then formulate pitches for readers of particular publications based on current events.
And don't get disheartened if your pitches are knocked back or you don't hear anything straight way - editors are extremely busy people and receive tons of feature ideas from freelancers everyday!