Six years in: Reflections on full-time freelance life

February 20, 2024
Side-by-side headshots of Stacy, a white woman with brown hair, in 2018 and 2023

I recently updated the head shot over on my writing portfolio site, as well as on this blog.  For the past six years, I'd been using a photo from the law firm I used to work for—I got a new head shot for the firm website shortly before I quit, and they kindly let me use it for my next chapter.  It was a great photo, but it's been six years since it was taken.  It feels a little strange that I've been doing the full-time freelance thing long enough to need a new head shot.

I re-read last year's freelance update before starting this post, and for the most part, I've continued on the same trajectory.  I'm thrilled to be regularly covering the Twin Cities food scene for local media outlets including the Heavy Table and Racket.  In 2023, my income increased 18% over the previous year, largely due to an hourly raise at my paralegal gig.  My workload is still a mixture of journalism, copywriting, and paralegal work.  If you're regular reader, you already know that I traveled a lot in the past year—Mike and I took a Mediterranean cruise and a trip to Hawaii, Josh and I went to Portland, Oregon, and I did a press trip to Baltimore.

Stacy blowing into a long metal pipe
One of the coolest experiences I've had on a press trip: glassblowing at Corradetti Glassblowing Studio & Gallery in Baltimore

My proudest accomplishment in year six of full-time freelancing was working on my first-ever book project: I wrote the Minnesota chapter of Fodor's American Spirits: Exploring the Best Wineries, Breweries, and Distilleries in the USA, which will be released on November 19, 2024.  Another highlight was this blog.  I've gotten back on track with regularly publishing travel and Twin Cities dining content, plus the occasional recipe.  Tangled Up In Food has more web traffic than ever, which is heartening to see in an era of SEO-optimized AI content.  Finally, I started another writing project—Still Proofing is a newsletter and blog with essays about identity, ritual, and spirituality, through the lens of my experience as a Jewish convert.

Stacy's hand holding a miniature beer goblet filled with a dark brown stout
Drinking the world's cutest beer and researching for Fodor's American Spirits

However, the media landscape is incredibly precarious.  Even though I'm a freelancer, the increasing pace of media layoffs directly affects me—freelance budgets are being reduced or eliminated, and each round of layoffs creates more freelance journalists vying for fewer and fewer opportunities.  The number of publications and clients that I write for decreased last year, with the loss of a longtime copywriting client and some other copywriting and journalism opportunities drying up.  I'm only able to cobble together a writing career thanks to my paralegal gig and the security of Mike's well-compensated salaried position with benefits.  I'm making things work for now and for the foreseeable future, but I'm unsure if that will be the case two or three years out.

In the meantime, I'll keep chugging along—I'm grateful that I've had the opportunity to build a career that's such a good fit for me, and each year I get to keep doing it is a gift.

Stacy hugging a very large tree
I think this photo is a metaphor for how life is short, we're all pretty small, and hopefully you can just enjoy the ride

Further reading: