How Jennifer Johnston gained the confidence to become a freelance writer

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Success: Learning the practical skills and gaining the confidence to pursue a career as a freelance writer – regularly getting paid for her stories.

AWC courses completed:
Travel Writing
Profile Writing
Copywriting Essentials
Freelance Writing Masterclass Program (current member)

Background:
Jennifer Johnston is living proof that you never stop learning – in fact, she has built a career on it. Having completed a postgraduate certificate in creative industries, she realised that while she had a lot of theory, there were many gaps with regard to practical skills. On the long-time recommendation of a friend, she chose a short online course in Travel Writing at the Australian Writers Centre – and wished she had taken her advice sooner!

What Jennifer learnt from AWC:
“It’s just so practical, the information was great, the feedback was from Sue White, who was the online tutor for the Travel Writing course, was invaluable. I just loved the fact that after you graduate you get into a closed support group, over the years that has been extremely beneficial to me and my writing.”

She went on to add courses in Profile Writing and Copywriting Essentials – further strengthening her skills. “The most useful information from the courses are their relevance in this day and age. Through the Australian Writers’ Centre I discovered my passion is real and it can actually be recognised out there.”

Initially, Jennifer thought blogging was the only place where she could share my stories – unpaid and with limited exposure. However, by improving her craft, she discovered that people were willing to pay for her freelance articles, which in turn reached a larger potential audience. “I’ve got a lot out of it and it’s really enhanced my writing.”

The result:
Jennifer has since been published in a range of publications including Queensland Homes, Qweekend, The Collective magazine, plus websites such as Unsealed 4X4, with more travel stories coming soon to the online space. And she credits the practical nature of AWC’s courses with helping her get to this point. “The courses that I’ve done have had a huge impact because it’s actually made me go forward and approach publications that I probably wouldn’t have been confident to approach before.”

But Jennifer also wanted to keep improving, which is why she enrolled in AWC’s Freelance Writing Masterclass Programa membership-based online mentorship, built to improve the skills of freelance writers in real time. From weekly refresher lessons to pitch assistance, live video sessions (with program creator and AWC founder Valerie Khoo) and an active online community, this program has helped hundreds of new freelance writers hone their craft.

“Being part of the Masterclass is one of the best decisions I’ve made this year,” says Jennifer. “I recognised there were a number of areas in my writing that I needed to improve, so joining the Masterclass was a ‘no-brainer’. I knew it would be an opportunity to gain even more relevant and practical writing tips, but the biggest clincher was the chance to receive support from the AWC CEO Valerie Khoo. 

“We have access to a closed community on Facebook where the support from both Valerie and the other writers in the group have been invaluable. The refresher modules are spot on with their information and they can be listened to at any stage. If we did all that was asked and suggested in these modules, Editors would be chasing us for work, rather than the other way around!”

It was Valerie’s precision ‘red pen’ feedback that helped mentor Jennifer through a drawn out writing assignment that she feels would never have made it to publication had it not been for the support and guidance of the program. “I feel being part of Masterclass as freelancers we are not floating out there on our own; we have access to editors and writers with a depth of knowledge that is a gift that cannot be quantified. Genuinely I can’t recommend the Masterclass Program more highly.”

And finally
Jennifer had always been passionate about writing but had never pursued it in the way that she has been able to in the past few years. But now, the sky’s the limit. “I’d like to see this as my career of choice for the remainder of my life. Because it fits in with everything, you can do it from every location and it’s just something that gives me joy.”

And she is quick to recommend the role that the Australian Writers’ Centre has played in her new life. “It’s hands on, it’s practical, it’s relevant, it’s just amazing to be a part of a collaborative group that supports each other.” 


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