If you’re looking for a senior writer who gets strategy or an experienced editor who will add value, contact Jane Clement. She specialises in writing and editing corporate, business to business and executive communications that are strategic, complex or niche — sometimes all three. Find out more at www.clementcommunication.com.au
Q: You’ve been freelancing for 30 years, congratulations, what a milestone! How did you start out on the freelance path?
A: Luck, planning and expediency. I emigrated from the UK to Perth and, although I was an experienced TV producer, there were no jobs. I was chatting to my hairdresser (as you do!) and he put me in touch with the local ABC Radio drivetime presenter, whose producer had just quit. The show was daily, live-to-air current affairs — my strength in television — so it was a natural fit. Being a freelance radio producer launched my freelancing life.
From there, I moved to Sydney and various gigs as a public relations manager, copywriter, video producer and event organiser. So now I was a PR freelancer. I stepped back into full-time work as Creative Director at a technology marketing agency but was made redundant two years later. I missed the freedom of freelancing so I set up Clement Communication Pty Ltd, offering the full range of PR services. In 2005, I decided to focus on what I loved most — writing and editing. I’ve never looked back.
Q: What services do you offer, and has that changed much over the years?
A: I focus on corporate writing, B2B copywriting and CEO ghost writing, with an emphasis on complex strategic projects — annual and CSR reports, tenders and awards, speeches, thought leadership publications, white papers, corporate profiles and so on.
It used to be all about print (which I still love) but I adapted my services as new formats emerged and added long-form blogs, LinkedIn profiles and websites to the mix.
Q: How has the freelance landscape evolved in Australia over the past three decades?
A: Technology has changed everything. When I arrived in Australia, I’d never used a computer because they were so rare.
As technology evolved, freelancing got easier. My first desktop computer meant I could throw away carbon paper and edit documents easily. Email eliminated hours of wrangling a fax machine. The internet replaced the library as a research tool. Mobile phones and laptops were a complete game-changer, because now clients could always reach me.
As the freelancing infrastructure improved, more people were doing it and more organisations accepted it. When I started, freelancers often worked in the client’s office so they could see us slaving away. Those days are over now because remote working is mainstream. There’s never been a better time to freelance.
Q: What does a typical working week look like for you?
A: I don’t know – I don’t have one! Last week I was blogging about workplace diversity, writing real estate awards submissions and condensing a survey of insurance CFOs. Next week I’ll be scoping a technology website and researching life sciences topics for a BSB EDM campaign. That variety is what I love about freelancing.
Q: What have been some of the career highlights over the years?
A: I headed up a team of five freelancers developing a communications strategy for the Sydney Olympics and wrote some of the public information collateral. I was fortunate to attend the Games and knowing I’d contributed made it extra-special.
Right now, I’m proud of writing and editing the annual social responsibility communications for an oil and gas client I’ve worked with for five years. A basic report has evolved into an entire suite of reports, newsletters, case studies and microsites. To be part of something that is so successful it gets bigger every year is very rewarding.
Q: What is it like to be a more senior freelancer in an industry now dominated by millennials?
A: My attitude is: adapt or die! I was at a copywriting conference recently and was the oldest person there, but I still learned a lot.
It’s a two-way street. I’m active in industry forums, advising younger freelancers who are unsure about client management, pricing or other things that come naturally to an industry veteran. In return, I get a fresh perspective on old topics and tips about new apps or SEO trends.
Q: How have you managed to turn your experience into a competitive advantage?
A: By being authentic, knowing my market and emphasising my points of difference. I figure that if my maturity is an issue for a potential client, we’re not a good fit.
I’m upfront about the range of experience I have and how that adds value. If it’s corporate writing, I bring an understanding of business strategy. With B2B copywriting, I know marketing in depth. If it’s a large document or website, I can advise on structure and work with designers. Of course, I can just write or edit, but if there’s an opportunity to add something extra, I point it out.
Q: And how have you positioned yourself in a market that favours generalists?
A: It’s a work in progress because I’m a born writer so I love playing with words. There’s a bit of me that doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed in case I miss out on creative copywriting opportunities. However, I understand the power of owning a niche.
I’m developing a marketing strategy that will move me away from presenting as a generalist — look at me, I can do everything! — and really emphasise areas where I have an edge, which is heavy-duty writing and editing that other freelancers find to difficult.
I work as a freelance writer, editor and consultant for large corporations (e.g. IBM, ANZ, Ernst & Young, Woolworths), medium-sized companies, government departments and agencies. I help them with all kinds of corporate communications, B2B and consumer marketing campaigns, employee communications, CEO ghostwriting and public information projects.