Follow up interview with freelance journalist Suzanne Baum
18 months ago, we interviewed freelance journalist and mum of three Suzanne Baum about her post-children career.
Since then, Suzanne’s career has gone from strength to strength, with stints on national TV and articles in Daily Mail. So we caught up with Suzanne to find out what changed, and what advice she has for other freelance mums. (You can read our original interview here)
What’s changed since your last interview?
Since my last interview I have gone back to full-time freelancing. As now my youngest is at school it is much easier to do this, and it feels good to be back working around the clock.
It’s not so much a juggling act anymore as my older kids are so much more self-sufficient now they are teenagers and I always make sure I’m home to see the kids in the evening.
What type of work have you been doing?
After filling a maternity role as features editor on a weekly local newspaper for a year, I have been doing so much varied work on a weekly basis it has been very exciting.
I am currently writing for Femail at Mail Online (the Daily Mail’s website) which I love as the job has so much variety. Mail Online is the most-visited English language newspaper website in the world so it feels great to be a part of it. I have covered everything from dressing Kate Middleton-style to going to sleep in my makeup to see what effects it has on the skin.
On a more serious note, I have been fortunate enough to shift on the news desk of This Morning which was by far the most enjoyable and interesting job I’ve experienced. Live TV is thrilling and from my experience there I hope to become a regular freelancer on the news desk when they need cover.
I’ve discovered the world of blogging and have been a regular blogger for the parenting website BritMums. Having always written and had a passion for writing on travel, I have also contributed to The Travel Magazine.
Writing on the world of parenting and family issues has meant I have shifted at the amazing kids newspaper First News which was a real eye-opener as it was unlike any publication I’ve written for before. Aimed at kids, it was an interesting challenge to change my writing style to that which would appeal for youngsters and it was great to be a part of such a fab editorial team.
How did these amazing opportunities come about?
Working for the above places has not just landed in my lap – I spend hours emailing and contacting commisisoning editors and making touch with editorial staff. Fortunately, having been in the industry for 20 years, I have a vast contacts book and with a good CV and cuttings behind me it certainly helps.
Has the way you find work changed over the years?
I haven’t really changed the way I work, although I use social media now more than ever. I find it’s a huge help with my work, from finding case studies to being a case study myself.
In fact, I am a regular on Good Morning Britain and have often appeared on the programme to discuss topical issues. The team there I have worked with are great and I’ve learnt a lot about talking to the camera without fluffing my lines.
Twitter remains a constant source of help, and although I’m not addicted I do check it hourly! And Facebook has some great tools for journalists, with many groups like The No 1 Freelance ladies buddy agency and Journoanswers being extremely resourceful.
How do you find stories?
I’ve become an expert at pitching stories, and depending on the publication I am always looking for topical issues or news hooks to link too. Femail has been great to work for as I have a huge passion for lifestyle news and being an avid reader of the section am always aware of the kind of stories they place.
Funnily enough (or not so much for my husband!) I have often written on personal issues. As a partner in a top law firm I’ve probably not helped him in his career very much, as now when his name is googled he is not so much a specialised intellectual proeprty lawyer but husband to Suzanne Baum! I think it’s time I stopped writing about him…!
What advice do you have for other freelancing mums?
Try and connect with like-minded people. Freelancing can often prove lonely so I have found shifting in an office is a lot more fun than sitting home alone on the computer.
And don’t be disheartened if you have a lull in your work. Freelancing can involve a lot of stop and starting, especially in journalism, so keep focused an don’t be disappointed if your emails go unanswered.