What journalist Suzanne Baum did next
Two and a half years ago, we interviewed freelance journalist and mum of three Suzanne Baum, 44, about her post-children career.
Since then, Suzanne’s career has gone from strength to strength, with regular stints on national TV and senior editorial roles on a number of leading magazines. So we caught up with Suzanne to find out about how she juggles work with parenting and what advice she has for other freelance mums.
What’s changed since your last interview?
Not a lot has changed financially (freelance journalism is not what it used to be when it comes to big pay checks)! However, the fact I have accepted this means I always am in regular work and have had amazing opportunities the past few years – many at senior management level.
My sons are aged 17, 15 and eight so my time is a lot more flexible which has led to amazing job offers as I’m not so tied down anymore. However, having just seen one child through his GCSE year and another about to follow suit the older ones still need me around so I always only commit to a job if I am home by 6pm to be as supportive as possible (and to make sure they are revising!).
What type of work have you been doing?
Throughout my 20-year career in journalism I have made some brilliant contacts who I have been working for on all sorts of different projects. I spent last year working on the features hub across Good Housekeeping and Prima magazine which was brilliant as I was brought in to help drum up excellent case studies and stories for the titles.
Around that I have been a regular contributor to the Lad Bible’s Pretty 52 site and have continued being a regular shifter at ITV morning programmes. I absolutely love working on live television and get a real buzz reporting on breaking news. There’s been many a time I’ve roped my family onto both GMB and This Morning when we’ve needed to cover a story. In my role as a parenting journalist also I am often asked to appear on other programmes, including Sky.
More recently I have also stepped in as deputy editor on the lifestyle magazine At Home and oversaw our latest two issues that were celebrity edited by Jo Frost and more recently, Lorraine Kelly. It was a brilliant opportunity to hone my editorial skills and to basically support the editor in putting together a first-class magazine.
The publishing group also produce the National Express magazine, The View, which I am very much involved in, and also the year-old Balance magazine where I just got one of my most favourite jobs of all time interviewing Andre Agassi for our January cover star.
I’ve also kept up my passion for travel writing. My work is regularly published on the Britmums website, and I have just returned from a press trip to Orlando which I wrote for the Huffpost.
How did these amazing opportunities come about?
Through hours and hours of emailing colleagues and contacts. Fortunately I am on the radar though, as in journalism if people know your byline it helps. I also think being a mother helps a sit means I can relate to young kids easily so if reporting on a sensitive story I know how to deal with it
I also belong to a fantastic journalist Facebook group that often posts shift jobs.
Has the way you find work changed over the years?
Not really, although of course social media offers a huge resource if you are seeking freelance jobs. I no longer have to spend hours trying to find the perfect case study as it’s much easier to link up with people through Twitter and Facebook.
I’m a very late comer to Instagram so am yet to work out if it is helpful in my work.
What advice do you have for other freelancing mums?
There’s a lot of support out there and jobsites that will enable you to work around school hours. 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.
My biggest advice if you are starting out as a journalist is to intern as magazines and newspapers are always looking for an office assistant/runner etc. It’s a great place to get your face known and learn how an editorial desk runs and you will always get an opportunity to see your byline in print which is the best stepping stone to making a career in it.