A Glimpse of My Professional Life

This began as a ramble at the end of my last post. It really had nothing to do with visiting friends or travel plans, but I thought it was an interesting glimpse at what I do for a living, so I trimmed it from that post and am putting it here instead.

I make my living as a freelance writer and editor, specializing in cars, motorcycles, and powersports in general. Before I started life on the road, I did this as a side gig while sticking with technical writing — software documentation, IT, etc. — as my “day job.” The tech writing was about as exciting as watching paint dry, but it paid well, and the writing on the side kept me entertained and helped pay for my hobbies. I was fortunate enough to land a full-time job doing this for FIXD right before hitting the road full-time. I can do this type of work from anywhere with an internet connection, making it perfect for this lifestyle. After I got laid off this past January, I decided to stick with freelancing instead of looking for another full-time job, which would no doubt be far more restrictive on my time and freedom.

Earlier this week, I got an assignment for ATV.com to write up a news story before a major manufacturer’s upcoming announcement. It’s under embargo, which means I’m not allowed to say any more than that until their announcement happens. The manufacturer gave us all the details in advance, with the promise not to disclose them before a specified date and time. The news outlets they work with can have the article already written and ready to go, then publish it at the same time after the embargo lifts and they make the news public. It’s a very common practice in the automotive and powersports industries. This way, one news outlet doesn’t have an advantage over another, getting the scoop or breaking the story first. We all get a fair shot at it. That’s why, for example, when Ford unveils a new version of the F-150, every automotive website posts an article about it at exactly the same time. If a website breaks the embargo and publishes the info too early, they’re pretty much blacklisted and don’t get included in future advance information like this. It’s in everyone’s best interest to play by the rules. So there’s a little “inside baseball” about how my profession works.

I lost track of what day of the week it is, and thought yesterday was a weekday where I’d be working throughout the morning on my various freelance gigs. It’s not. So instead, I’m writing this, as well as the embargoed article for ATV.com. I don’t have to finish it until early next week, but since I have the time now, I might as well. Having this one finished will free me up to focus on my next article, a feature for ADVRider. It’s not under embargo, so I can talk about it freely. The main reason I’m driving from Florida to New England with a side trip through Alabama is to visit the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. (Avoiding the traffic mess of Atlanta doesn’t hurt, either.) This will be a feature article about notable adventure motorcycles the museum has in its collection. I’d be going there anyway just for my own interest, but it didn’t take much discussion to interest the editor in this idea, so now I’m going there for my job as well.

This is a wonderful benefit of living on the road as a writer. As I travel to different areas, I can visit and write about far more places than I could if I lived in one area. My visit to the Grand Canyon, for instance, led to a feature article, also for ADVRider, about how to visit and explore it on a motorcycle. I didn’t go there with that article in mind, but in chatting with my editor, we came up with the article idea together. My visit to Pikes Peak also led to a feature article, but we planned this one in advance. I would’ve done it regardless of any article, but it’s even better when it becomes my job. Even though I’ve been doing it for a while, I still can’t believe I get paid to do this.

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