I've worked with Jenni Gritters at several media companies now, including Upworthy and Wirecutter, and I have no qualms saying that she is probably the best editor I've ever worked with. As such, I can't say I was surprised when I learned that she pulled in $120,000 in her first year as a full-time freelancer.
Jenni is certainly a hustler, but she's a gracious soul who's eager to share advice and help others to succeed as well (even if that means setting timers for me to indulge my weird ADHD research wormholes). So she and her friend/fellow freelancer Wudan Yan decided to start a podcast called The Writer's Co-Op, examining the ways they both got started in freelance journalism, as well as the trials and tribulations they've stumbled on along the way. They're also chock full of experience and advice about how to actually run your business, including planning for taxes, time management, and budgeting out how much money your actual time is worth (including all that paperwork and booking you forgot to factor in).
Here's how they describe it:
The idea for this podcast was born in the middle of the desert last fall when I (Wudan) pulled up to a rest stop in the middle of a long drive. In the months leading up to that moment, I had noticed more and more people reaching out to me for freelance help. And nearly all the questions that I was fielding were related to the business of freelancing: what terms to negotiate in a contract, how to get paid on time, how to demand late payment, and more. I kept sharing the same advice over and over, and Jenni and I also talked about similar issues from time to time. Instead of sounding like a broken record, I wondered if this advice should live somewhere.
I texted Jenni something along the lines of, “Yo, should we start a podcast about the business of freelance writing?”
And she said, “Yes, yes we should.”
Since then, we’ve received a grant from the National Association of Science Writers to fund season one, which allowed us to hire audio extraordinaire Susan Valot to edit us. (We’re very much audio newbies.)
The Writer's Co-Op just completed its first 10-episode season; they also have a Patreon that gives you access to worksheets and Excel documents and other bonus content to help you get ahead in that freelance life. My personal relationship with Jenni aside, I have found this podcast to be remarkable informative, comforting, and accessible. Jenni and Wudan speak honestly and openly about the privileges that have helped them take some risks — even things as simple as spouse-provided healthcare — as well as the things that have made it more difficult for them (including but not limited to gender and race). The episodes are about a half-hour long each, and they're surprisingly refreshing and inspiring. I tend to find most professional advice content like this feels like a pyramid scheme; like of course they're not going to share with me the real secret to their success. But Jenni and Wudan want you to succeed along with them, and they even give you some of the tools you need for that. And I think that's pretty awesome.
Image: Indi Samarajiva / Flickr