Introducing Jodie Tweed Norquist
1. What kind of work were you doing or had you done prior to becoming a full time freelance writer? I worked as a reporter for nearly 15 years for a regional daily newspaper and served as editor of the newspaper’s quarterly health magazine for my last 1-1/2 years at the paper. I mostly covered education, health and government stories, but I also wrote quite a few human interest/lifestyle features. I’ve also worked in radio, public relations and as an assistant at a national television show while in college.
2. What education beyond high school do you have? I have both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mass communication with an emphasis in print and broadcast.
3. Do you have children at home? Yes. My daughters are 2-1/2 and 5 and keep me quite busy! I also have a 20-year-old daughter away at college.
4. Is freelance writing your full time income or just a part time income source? Right now I consider myself a part-time freelancer, but some weeks I’m really busy. I quit my newspaper job two years ago to become a stay-at-home mom to my young girls, who are now 2-1/2 and 5. As my girls grow older, I’m hoping to grow my business into a full-time job.
5. What age bracket did you fit in when started freelance writing? Between 30 and 50.
6. Are you making as much or more a year than you did before you started freelance writing? I am making nearly the same annual income as I did as a full-time reporter, but I’m working on average about 10-25 hours a week. I am confident I could easily boost my income far beyond that, but my priority right now is raising my girls and sometimes I have to step back and not work so hard so I can enjoy the time I have with them at home. My 5-year-old starts kindergarten next fall, so I’m trying to find that perfect balance between writing and being a mom. Some days, I do well at this. Most days, eh, not so much.
7. What types of writing projects have you done? What makes up the majority of your work currently? Right now I am writing a lot of features for magazines and newspapers, but I also have steady clients whom I provide weekly or monthly blog posts and other web content. Last year I wrote about 550 stories, blog posts and columns. That seems like an insane number, even to me. But I still consider myself a part-time writer. My husband is a photographer, and we often go out on stories together as a team, which is fun.
8. Do you do most of your writing during business hours or outside of business hours? Two days a week my girls are at preschool and/or their grandparents’ house, so I try to get as much writing done and interviews in as possible, in between sorting mountain-high piles of clean and dirty laundry. I do a lot of my writing at night after they go to bed. I have to make this schedule work right now, and so far it does. I used to work irregular hours as a newspaper reporter, and more often than not, I would call my girls at home to say goodnight to them, just before I headed out of the office to cover a school board or city council meeting. It made me incredibly sad, and I’m so fortunate that now I can write when they are asleep in their bedrooms right down the hall.
9. What do you love most about being a freelance writer? My dream has always been to be a stay-at-home mom and freelance writer, and I feel very blessed to be doing what I’m doing. Doesn’t mean my life is perfect. I haven’t quite figured out how to achieve life/work balance like I should. But in most cases, everything I do now is on my own terms, and I love that.
10.What is your least favorite part of freelance writing? I would really love large chunks of uninterrupted time to be able to write, and that’s not often possible right now. Disney’s “Frozen” movie has a running time of 102 minutes. That’s usually how much time I’ve got!
11. If you could write about anything and be paid for it, what would it be and why? I enjoy learning about other people’s lives, so I enjoy writing human interest features. I love writing about people who are following their own dreams; they inspire me.
12. What words of advice do you have for someone considering freelance writing as a career? Be persistent and don’t give up. It took me at least 10 months after quitting my newspaper job before I started seeking online writing jobs. I was intimidated by the various freelance bidding websites and lacked confidence in myself. Jump right in, make mistakes and just try. What do you have to lose?
13. Where can you and your writing be found online or in print? I am a frequent contributor to a few regional magazines, including Lake Country Journal, and several newspaper-based special publications, including Her Voice, HealthWatch, Business Traditions, Love of the Lakes, Brainerd Schools magazine, etc. I mostly work as a ghost copywriter for many companies throughout the country and Canada, writing blog posts, SEO-based web content and other writing.
Jodie and I met through a mutual friend who suggested I might be able to help Jodie get her freelance career off the ground. Now we’re good friends and contributing writers to some of the same magazines.
What surprised you most about Jodie’s freelance journey?