Danielle Norton was halfway through the AWC's Food Writing course when she managed to sell her first two recipes to an online magazine. Not bad for a former school teacher who, by her own admission, was naive about the media industry. Now a veteran of six AWC courses, Danielle is an established freelance writer and copywriter, and she is sought after by editors for her travel and parenting articles.
“Every course I take gives me another skill or opens another door for me which means it is unlikely that I’ll ever go back to a classroom,” Danielle says about her new career.
From newbie to first successful pitch
Danielle loved her job as a teacher, but after her kids fell ill she made the decision to step back from full-time employment.
“As a single parent, it was a huge decision that I knew would have a serious financial impact on our family but there was no way around it, the kids needed me,” Danielle says. “I decided to take a year off working and focus on home.”
It was during this time that a friend suggested she write an article about her recent trip to Samoa, but she found it harder than expected.
“My friend encouraged me but I found that writing a travel story was more difficult than I’d imagined. When I got home, I signed up for the Travel Writing course. After the second lesson the story fell into place and was published exactly how I’d submitted it.”
Danielle is obviously a fast learner. Before taking her first AWC course, she had no idea that newspapers and magazines accepted pitches for stories.
“I’d never considered freelance writing. I didn’t even know it was a possibility. I thought every story written in a newspaper or magazine was written by a staff journalist,” Danielle admits. Now, she is commissioned by editors to write articles and is even invited on press trips.
Danielle's hard work pays off
As soon as she realised that travel writing was a possibility, Danielle pursued it with gusto. She has now been published in magazines and websites such as Escape, Jetstar Magazine, Pacific Island Living Magazine, Island Spirit, The Age/Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Traveller, and International Traveller.
After that first Travel Writing course, Danielle went on to complete Freelance Writing Stage 1 and Copywriting Essentials, diversifying her writing portfolio, which proved handy during the travel restrictions of 2020.
“I worked very hard to become a travel writer for the three years leading up to COVID, but I have diversified a bit. About half of my work is copywriting, and the other half is a mixture of travel, food, news, education and parenting stories,” Danielle says. “Now I work full-time as a freelance writer. Writing edges into all the corners of my life and my kids complain that I’m always at my desk.”
Never one to rest on her laurels, Danielle decided to enrol in Food Writing to see if she could expand her writing portfolio even more.
“When I took the food writing class online with Carli Ratcliff, I realised that freelancers could sell recipes to magazines. I was over the moon,” says Danielle. “I love cooking and writing about food and chefs, so it’s another string to my bow.”
Part of the writing community
Danielle is very much a people-person, and that's a skill she's been able to utilise in her freelancing.
“I love interviewing people and writing about them and that’s been one of the true highlights of this new career. Learning about others and sharing their stories is a real pleasure,” she says.
As a successful graduate of so many of our courses, Danielle has learnt the skills and tools to establish her freelance career. But it's also the friendships she's made along the way that have been important.
“The other fabulous thing about the AWC is the supportive community of writers I encountered. Some of these writers have now become my confidants, and are true friends,” Danielle says. “I love the collegiate nature of the graduate Facebook groups and really appreciate that we help each other as we navigate our new careers.”
Although she has been freelancing for a few years now, Danielle still gets a kick out of every article that makes its way online or into a magazine.
“Whether my stories are for online or for print, I’m always thrilled to see them published,” she says. “The AWC courses have given me the strategies and the confidence to pursue a writing life.”