Emma Wilkinson Wrote the Book on Freelancing — and Made an Impossible Portfolio Page Come True
14 years of freelance writing, more than 800 articles from 10 different publications: Emma Wilkinson had practically given up on ever creating a portfolio page containing all her work. Until she discovered it could be set up in just a few minutes with the right service.
Hi Emma, great to have you. Thanks for agreeing to share your experience with Authory so far. Please tell us a little bit about your background as a journalist.
I have been working as a journalist since 2002 and I have been freelance for 14 years. I am based in the UK and specialise in health and medicine (my undergraduate degree was in Biomedical Sciences but then I did a Journalism MA) and a lot of my work these days is for specialist publications and medical journals. I do everything from short news stories written during shifts to profile pieces, more in-depth features and investigations.
Name: Emma Wilkinson Authory page: authory.com/EmmaWilkinson Number of articles: 881 Number of publications: 10
I am also an Associate Lecturer in Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University where I teach a range of topics including news writing, digital journalism, moral panics and communicating medical stories.
More recently, my colleague Lily Canter and I wrote Freelancing for Journalists, an authoritative and practical guide that has also grown into a podcast, fast-growing Facebook community and an online course offered in partnership with journalism.co.uk.
You have been using Authory for a few weeks now. What did you look for initially?
From the start of my freelance career I’ve always been very busy juggling multiple different bits of work. For three years I was working half the week in London as a health reporter for BBC News Online while working as a freelance for specialist titles from my home in Sheffield the other half.
As a result I had never managed to keep on top of my portfolio. It was just too much work to do manually especially as it can be hard to keep track of when articles are published. I had tried other portfolio sites but they missed lots of my articles — perhaps because they were for specialist titles — or managed to confuse me with other journalists of the same name.
“I had never managed to keep on top of my portfolio. It was just too much work to do manually especially as it can be hard to keep track of when articles are published.”
Add in three periods of maternity leave in 5/6 years and I’d given up ever having a proper record of my work. It seemed unachievable by this point and even if I started from scratch collecting everything from now on (which still seemed an impossible task) there would be well over a decade of ‘missed’ work.
It was frustrating because through my work on Freelancing for Journalists I had been paying more attention to my ‘brand’ and I had redesigned my own website which listed some recent articles and projects I’m particularly proud of but there did seem to be this gap. I had no way of showing the breadth of my work and how experienced I was without spending days and days trying to sort it out. Then another journalist mentioned on social media they had been trying Authory and in two days it had found more than 600 articles they had written and I was intrigued.
And how has Authory worked for you? Have your expectations been fulfilled?
I have to admit to being a tad sceptical as I thought I would hit the same problem I had with other portfolio services; that because I wasn’t mainly writing for mainstream media outlets like national newspapers it wouldn’t pick up my work.
So I got in touch and you reassured me that you could still get hold of articles behind paywalls and for any type of publication so I thought I’d give it a go. I am very happy to report that it worked fantastically well and I now have almost 900 articles going back through all of my freelance career including all my BBC work which surprisingly was always a struggle to find.
“Authory worked fantastically well and I now have almost 900 articles going back through all of my freelance career.”
I have to say I am massively impressed, it was all done so quickly and now it just ticks over and will always find and update my work. I don’t have to think about it at all. I still include a selection of key articles on my website but now I also link straight to my Authory page to showcase my whole portfolio.
There are other benefits I didn’t expect including being able to more easily find examples of work I’ve done for teaching purposes or entering awards. I haven’t yet played around with all the features because it has done the one thing I needed it to do but I imagine the analytics could be interesting as I don’t normally get to see that kind of information as a freelancer.
You have written for a really wide variety of publications, from outlets with broad audiences like the BBC to special interest magazines such as BMJ and the Chemist+Druggist. Did this come with specific challenges?
I do love that my working life is so varied — having this portfolio career means I am never bored. But I think the main challenge has been because I do so many different things I’ve always had a lot on my plate.
I will frequently get to the end of a day having fully intended to do all those little admin jobs that as a freelance you have to keep on top of but running out of time and having to move them on to the next days list, and then the next day. I don’t want to work 18 hour days so something has to give.
There is also the challenge of how to present yourself to the world. I am a health and medicine specialist but that doesn’t mean I just write articles that only doctors would read. With my Authory profile, you can look at my work by publication depending on the sort of thing you are interested in.
Your experience as a freelance journalist is truly vast. In fact, you’ve started to teach others about freelancing. Is there a benefit about Authory that is especially suited for freelancers from your teaching point of view?
Through Freelancing for Journalists and everything I learnt while co-writing the book (which took three years from concept to publication) I have come to understand a lot more about the importance of branding and being able to present what you do and have ownership of that.
“I have come to understand a lot more about the importance of branding and being able to present what you do and have ownership of that.”
Freelancers often have a lot of strings to their bow and have to do everything themselves from IT to HR to accounting. For me Authory has provided a really simple way to link my entire portfolio to my website and it means that editors who don’t know me can quickly see what I’m about.
I can now concentrate on doing my work and not have to worry about constantly updating my website. It is all happening without me having to do anything which is great.
What would you say to your journalist colleagues about Authory?
If you’re like me and you struggle to keep up to date with your portfolio, even if you gave up on that years ago, Authory is well worth considering. Also it means you won’t lose work if a website you write for shuts down. I’m extremely glad I decided to give it a go and I only wish I’d come across it sooner!
“I’m extremely glad I decided to give it a go and I only wish I’d come across it sooner!”
— Emma Wilkinson, authory.com/EmmaWilkinson
Emma and thousands of other writers and journalist are using Authory to take control of their content and their audience. Join Emma with a free 14 day trial at authory.com