Claire Halliday

I studied creative writing and screenwriting and sold my first feature article to The Sunday Age - about people who clean up crime scenes for a living - almost 20 years ago. Since then, I've had more than 1000 feature articles published in a range of publications, including the Herald Sun, Australian Women's Weekly, GQ, Marie Claire, Australian Men's Style, Rolling Stone, The Australian, Sydney Morning Herald, Voyeur, Australian House & Garden, Insite, Sunday Life, The Independent on Sunday (UK) and many more. As a copywriter, my business Copy Queens, delivers all kinds of written communications that help businesses and corporates connect with their audience. My fifth non-fiction book, Things My Father Taught Me, is out in August 2017 and features interviews with a bunch of people, including George Calombaris, Rev Tim Costello, Anthony Callea, Matthew Reilly, David Koch, Em Rusciano, Catriona Rowntree, Ann Peacock and more - all talking about the impact their dad had on their lives. Listening to people share their stories is one of the best parts of my work - I love it. Years of doing sensitive stories for newspapers has helped me understand the best way to interact with interviewees - putting them at ease to help me tell their story in the most powerful way.

my core skills

articles

speechwriting

LinkedIn profiles

media releases

video scripts

Q & A

Whats the best thing to happen to you in your career to date?

Writing features for newspapers and magazines has given me the opportunity to meet amazing people and witness incredible things. Interviewing celebrities can be exciting (and challenging!) but my favourite stories are of everyday people dealing with extraordinary situations. I've been nominated for writing awards (and won some) for various features, over the years, which is great - but the opportunity to simply have someone trust me enough to tell me a difficult personal story is something I always see as the real privilege of what I do.

What does a typical work week look like for you?:

Almost my entire freelance life has been juggled as a busy mother - although as more children have been added to the family, that juggle has become even more intense, at times. Two things I love about writing full-time? Flexibility is important - and I love the idea that each week brings something new. Whether I'm interviewing new people, researching something interesting, creating killer media releases to help business owners have their shot at the media spotlight, getting to be a fly on the wall at an event or experience I could never have been part of in 'regular' life, or enjoying the indulgence of creating more descriptive writing, writing is what I love to do. A typical week includes several walks to my favourite cafe with my dog (I call it 'thinking time'), at least one latte a day and anywhere between 1000 - 10,000 words produced - depending on what I'm working on and the depth of what's required.

Describe your working environment in a few sentences..

When I'm working on a book, I tend to allocate a couple of hours per day to find a quiet table in a favourite cafe. People-watching helps things flow for me, and having coffee close by doesn't hurt either. When my week is filled with more corporate/business work, I do most of it from my office at home -with just my dog and cat for company. The good thing about writing feature articles is that it gets you out of your comfort zone regularly and adds the spark of seeing new places and meeting new people. It's a great balance with the consistent income from business clients. Consistency buys me creativity.

What sets you apart from other freelancers in your industry?

Experience, I guess. I've been doing this for almost 20 years. I've studied creative writing, but done the bulk of my work as a non-fiction writer. I've been incredibly prolific and had lots of articles published in a wide range of magazines and papers - and with 5 non-fiction books that have been primarily interview-based, I've developed a genuine skill for helping people share their stories in a very raw and real way. With my copywriting work, what sets me apart from lots of my competitors is that I combine a solid knowledge of marketing skills with proven storytelling skills from my journo days. It all adds up to help me work efficiently and effectively - to hone in on the important elements of a story and understand how to communicate that story in a powerful, clear way.

What are the tools of your trade?

My laptop, my car, my mobile and a digital recorder. Pen and notebook might be considered old school by some but I use them daily to take notes of things I observe when I'm interviewing people and writing features.

Do you collaborate with others? If yes, how does that works?

I do a lot of work with brand agencies who deliver other elements of creative storytelling for clients - whether that's through graphic design of a logo, photography or video, web design for digital marketing, or editors who work for publications. There are lots of different ways to collaborate. I love writing video scripts, so I can help a videographer put together a powerful pitch for a client, I can help digital marketers work with their clients to create an effective blog content schedule and I regularly work with other copywriters who have niche skills (medical copywriting, for example) in specific areas I don't work within. Having other copywriters at my fingertips with specialist skills helps me look after my clients better and lets me focus on the stuff I do best.

Whats been the biggest freelancing lesson to date?

Making sure I invoice for a deposit before I start work. Cash-flow is king in small business. Ever since I began invoicing my business clients for a 50% up-front deposit, managing life as a freelancer has been less stressful. In the world of publishing, you're usually only paid on publication - which can be months after you deliver - so mixing that up with some commercial clients keeps things ticking over smoothly and gives you the stress-free freedom to take the time to write things well.

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