Interview: Sarah Ayoub

Sarah's blog, Wordsmith Lane, is one of my absolute faves, featuring writerly advice, beauty reviews, source call-outs, interviews, magazine insights and more. She kindly shares her wisdom here...

Sarah Ayoub is a freelance journalist, commentator, copywriter and researcher based in Sydney, Australia.

Her work has appeared in various print and online publications including Madison, Sunday Magazine, ABC Unleashed, Notebook:, The Punch, Shop Til You Drop, Cleo, Frankie, Yen, Girlfriend and more, and she has spoken at numerous industry events with the Emerging Writer’s Festival, The Walkley Foundation and Vibewire.

In addition, Sarah has appeared on national television, radio and on forum panels as a commentator on various social/political issues, and was the co-publisher behind the establishment of one of Australia’s largest online youth magazines,  Trespass. In addition to blogging about the writing life and her pursuit of style, smarts and savoir-faire at Wordsmith Lane, Sarah is working on her first YA novel.

Sarah has a Master of Media Practice and a Bachelor of Media in Print Production, and is now engaged in a postgraduate research position at the University of Sydney, where she is writing a thesis on the Australian media’s role in the glamorisation of gang-culture among Sydney’s Middle-Eastern community.

1. How did you discover you wanted to be a writer?

I was obsessed 
Lois & Clark when I was in primary school, so that piqued my interest in the journalism thing. I ended up doing a media degree and was intrigued by PR, but I loved feature writing more and hated my intern work in PR. At the time, I loved buying so many magazines and I realised that what I wanted was to write for them, so I just started doing work experience all over 
and it went from there.

2. In which other fields have you worked? How did you transition into becoming a freelancer?

I have worked in
magazine advertising, public relations, retail, copywriting and now in faith education.
 But I have been doing the freelance thing throughout all the jobs. It was not something I transitioned into. When I was doing work experience, I realised that it was going to take me forever to work my way up to a point in magazines when I would be able to write features myself. So I read about writing pitch letters on the internet and just had a shot it from there. The first article I ever pitched was the first article I got paid for. I was really lucky, but I was also pretty determined.

3. What were your first goals as a writer? For which publications did you aim to write?

My first goals were just to get published, in all honesty. I didn't care where. I was once hired to be the editor of a small, street-press publication run by some events dude about end of year parties and formals. I worked on it for two weeks, doing absolutely everything - layouts, commissioning, writing, styling, product call-ins etc. During that time, I'd leave work complaining to my boyfriend about my sleazy boss, who I now am smart enough to know was verbally assaulting me and making inappropriate comments of a sexual nature. I left after two weeks, but I was still so excited when the magazine came out, because I had made it. Unfortunately, he had listed someone else as the editor, and my work was still there, albeit uncredited. That sucked, but staying there and still following the magazine demonstrated how keen I was to write and see my work in print. As for publications, I guess writing for mainstream Aussie magazines and NIMs (Newspaper-Inserted Magazines) w
ere my main aims. I still have a lot of goals I am yet to achieve.

4. What was your first paid (or breakthrough) article? How did it come about?

I was 21
years old and enrolled in my Master of Media Practice at University. I was doing a subject called 'Advanced Writing for the Media', and we had three assessments that year. The first was writing a pitch, so after I did the assignment I sent it as a pitch to 
Girlfriend. Our second assignment was to write it. After I wrote it, I made a customised version for Girlfriend (who had by then commissioned me for the story) and they published it in their August 2007 issue. It was about not lying to Centrelink and the payback (pardon the pun) that comes when you do. I still remember it 
quite fondly, hehe! 

5. What is the most enjoyable article you have written?

That's a tough question, because when you freelance yo
u have the option of picking and choosing what you write about, because you're your own boss in that circumstance. Probably one for 
CLEO, where I interviewed mums and daughters about their generation gaps based on where they had grown up. I wish I'd a longer word limit - the piece was pitched as involving the grandmother as well.

6. How has your blogging enhanced your freelancing career?

To be honest
, I don't think it has enhanced it. Unlike 
Girl with a Satchel, for example, my blog doesn't draw industry peeps. It's more for those aspiring writers who want to break into the industry, and they are usually girls in their late teens and early twenties who don't necessarily have a lot of footing in magazines, where they can commission me for stuff. But I guess interviewing a new writer on most Fridays means I get to know more freelancers, and we can commiserate on the unpredictability of our work!

7. What's your best tip for beginner freelance writers?

Pitch. Don
't feel bad about the rejection, but take it as part of the industry. And read 
Wordsmith Lane of course, especially this post.


  1. What a wonderful post! Sarah is very forth coming and sounds wonderful not only as a writer but as a person. As an apiring writer I'm definitely going to check out her blog... Thanks for sharing someone so interesting with us readers. XO HHL

  2. I gave you an award! Head over to my site to accept it. Have a great week!


  3. Sarah was definitely very giving of her time and her blog is endlessly useful and entertaining.

    Wow, thanks for the award, Mommies 2 Cents!!! I have been secretly coveting that one on other people's sites, as it has such a pretty button (I'm all about the pretty pink cuteness). : )

  4. Thank you for this interview, it's wonderful!



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