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Writer Alice Hines: Breaking stories as a freelancer.

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Freelance writer Alice Hines has written for i-D, Vice, The New Yorker, and is currently the editor of Vestoj, a platform for critical thinking on fashion. We asked her how she broke into freelance writing to pay off her student loans and become a freelancing Tycoon.

How did you get started as a writer?
I wrote for my college newspaper and really enjoyed it. My junior year I got an internship at Marie Claire France for the fall semester. I saw how a magazine’s editorial department worked first-hand and decided reporting was a career I’d like to try. Then I got a reporting job right out of college (as a business reporter at the Huffington Post) which pretty much sealed the deal. I did leave journalism for a bit, in 2013 when I started to work on online marketing/strategy for the fashion brand Opening Ceremony. I came back to journalism in 2015, when I decided to strike out on my own as a freelance writer.

How did you get your first few clients?
Through contacts from already having worked in journalism full-time. I don’t recommend going freelance before you’ve done that.

What do you like the most about your job?
I love the flexibility of being able to write about a huge variety of topics, from Donald Trump’s imploding modeling agency to reproductive rights in Montana to VR technology in China.

What are your top freelancer life-hacks? 

  • Take easy money jobs (e.g. a two week copyediting gig) when they come up, that way you build up a cash reservoir and don’t ever end up desperate looking for work, and can focus your energy on securing more creative and fulfilling jobs.
  • At the same time, don’t be afraid to turn down work if you’re financially good. That’s the beauty of being freelance!
  • I churn credit cards to get free flights but don’t do this unless you’re very organized and on top of your finances.
  • Additionally, I have a cheap insurance plan which I buy and then get coupons for all my prescriptions on GoodRX.

How do you pitch an idea or article?
A pitch is a sample of the story you’re going to write! Catchy subject line, great prose, a few lines about you and links to your work. Oh, and don’t be afraid to do research beforehand if you’re confident the topic is good – it will make your pitch better.

What’s been your biggest success?
Paying off my student loans with freelance writing income!

What’s been your biggest challenge?
Figuring out what the next story will be – but it’s a fun challenge.

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