Welcome to my first ever blog. Fortnightly I will be taking you on a backstage tour of my design business, showcasing a snapshot of how I create my designs, behind the scenes photoshoots, my inspirations and exclusive interviews with an amazing network of independent creatives.
As this is my very first post, I thought it would only be fitting to interview the talented journalist Jo Dunbar (who just happens to be my sister in law), who boasts an impressive portfolio, having written for Good Housekeeping, Grazia, Cosmopolitan, Mother & Baby and Prima to name a few.
Grab a cuppa and enjoy!
“Seeing your name in print never gets old”
I spoke to writer Jo Dunbar about her dream commissions, overcoming writers block and her love of glossies.
I’m Jo, I live in Newcastle (Geordie by marriage) and I’m a mum of two boys. Aside from all that, I am a freelance journalist and I write for a mix of places ranging from women’s glossies, online lifestyle platforms and national newspapers. Though I started out in entertainment journalism, today I write a mix of opinion, health, parenting and bridal features plus the odd opinion piece too. Aside from journalism, I also re-write business and web copy and offer editorial consultancy too.
What inspired you to work in your chosen profession?
I’m that sickening person who always seemed to know what I wanted to do. Words, English and reading have been my passion since I was a little girl and after I did a magazine work experience placement at the age of 15 and saw the bright lights of London, there was no turning back!
What is the favourite thing about your job?
It’s such a cliché but my work can be so varied that I never get bored. I love writing and I love that I can usually find a way to balance my career with family life. I get a buzz out of taking on new business or seeing my features in a new publication or writing for a different editor.
Name a person or business that you admire or inspires you (and why)?
There are many writers and journalist I admire but I do have particular respect for Ellen Manning who has moved seamlessly from a top reporting job covering royal weddings, huge court cases and the Olympics to becoming an authority on food and writing fabulous lifestyle copy. I went to university with Ellen and I have seen how hard she’s worked and also how professional she is. She deserves all of her success.
Best piece of advice you have been given
"Know your worth"
Often when quoting a new client for work it can be tempting to undersell yourself and go for a lower sum when in actual fact, they are paying you for the skills and experience you have to do the job efficiently and well.
What is your biggest success story or proudest moment in your career so far.
Seeing your name in print never gets old for me. I think securing names like Dame Judi Dench, Jane Fonda, Dawn French and Julie Walters as cover stars for Good Housekeeping were moments for me. I’m also proud to have worked for the Mail on Sunday straight out of university and for almost four years. Last year I had my first byline in Grazia which was a big deal to me, similarly when I had my first parenting feature published not long after having my first baby.
What subjects would you like to write more about?
I’d love to do more parenting stuff and health too. But similarly, I really enjoy a page-based rant, so I am keen to do more opinion pieces too!
When you have writers block, how do you get back on track?
Coming back with fresh eyes is vital. Whether that’s taking another look the next day or after a coffee and a screen break.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
As is the way for many freelancers, work can frequently be feast or famine. So I am either swimming in deadlines and being offered more copywriting work or tapping my biro on my desk and lamenting the end of my career! These days I try to take quiet spells in my stride and make hay when the sun shines when I am busy. Having two children means I am at the mercy of school days, but a routine helps and obviously in lockdown the work/life lines are blurred quite a bit!
Where do you get your information or ideas for your articles?
I’m a big believer in writing what you know. Since having children, parenting ideas come to me naturally. Often conversations with friends can spark an idea if a few of us appear to be experiencing the same situation. But there’s no substitute for reading as much and as widely as you can.
What would be your dream commission?
I’d love to do more for the glossies. I’m passionate about staying loyal to print and having had a couple of bylines in national papers recently, I’d like a few more! My dream commission would be a feature that comes so naturally it almost writes itself and when published, taps into the psyche of other women.
What is your favourite book?
This has just leapfrogged up to the top of my current favourites list: American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. A brilliant book by a brilliant writer.
What is your favourite quote?
"Shy Bairns get Nowt"
It’s a popular North East saying meaning, basically, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It can be applied to many areas of life but especially to freelance working and touting for new business or securing the right fee. I’ve got better at being upfront about these things as time has gone by!