Freelance Life with Beth Luberecki

To build a career as a freelance writer is easier said than done. Venice-based writer, Beth Luberecki knows from experience. Having been in the field just shy of two decades, she has written for award winning magazines and newspapers across the East coast, and interviewed A-list trend setters like Gwyneth Paltrow and Tim Gunn. We asked Beth to share with us some of the lessons she has learned along the way, and offer some advice to those of you just getting your feet wet.

Do Your Homework. I tend to start online, making sure, of course, to be gathering information from reliable and reputable sources. Industry associations or trade groups can be a great place to get facts and figures, and information on trends. I try to read up on the topic until I have a good understanding of it. And then I like to turn to interviews. To me, there's nothing like talking with a great, knowledgeable source to help you get a firm grasp on an unfamiliar topic. College professors can be great resources for a variety of subjects, as can folks involved with industry associations, people who have authored books on the topic at hand, or anyone who's garnered a good, solid reputation in the field or area you're researching.

Be Versatile with Voice. I try to do my research ahead of time and read other stories from the publication to get a sense of the preferred style. It's important to be able to make subtle shifts in phrasing or tone depending on your audience. When I'm writing for the under-40 readers of Washington Post's Express, that might mean including some pop culture references or being just a little bit cheekier in tone. When writing for an older, more affluent audience, I still try to keep things lively but maybe it's not quite as playful. For a business audience, things might be a little more straightforward and focused more on the facts at hand rather than using lots of anecdotes. When I'm writing for a convention and visitor bureau or publication aimed at visitors, some stories take on a more persuasive tack.

Give it Life. I've found that real-life sources and anecdotes can help make a piece livelier. I try to include anecdotes and real-life stories whenever applicable. This is also where fully understanding a publication's tone and style is helpful. You might be writing about something dry, but maybe the publication is OK with you taking a more playful or light-hearted approach to the story.

Master Multitasking. Being a freelancer is a constant juggling act. It's common knowledge that freelancing means having a workload that can vary greatly from week to week. But in any given work day, it can sometimes feel like I'm constantly changing course. I might be working on a pitch one minute, and then I'm switching gears to do a phone interview about apartment rents. Then I'm writing a piece about beaches, fact-checking a story about graduate school before I turn it in, researching interview subjects for yet another story… You have to be able to jump from one thing to another quickly and make sure you're keeping track of everything that's on your plate.