Like so many people, the COVID-19 pandemic made Pascale Hughes reevaluate the way she worked, and the work itself.
“I was looking for a bit more flexibility,” she says. “Working from home made me reassess perhaps what my priorities were and that a lot of the things that initially drew me to journalism — such as going to interesting places and doing interesting things — wasn’t what was actually happening.”
Pascale is a former journalist with bylines for the BBC, The Independent, The Times, and The i, where she was a full-time staff writer for five years. But despite the desire for more freedom in her career, freelancing wasn’t really a viable option. Having been freelance when she first got into journalism, she was all too familiar with the challenges of finding clients, securing work, and most importantly, getting paid a livable amount.
“I considered going freelance but it wasn’t something that was ever financially possible,” she says. “I was freelance at the start of my career and I found it quite difficult. When you’re freelance at 22 it’s just really stressful the whole time! It was the constant uncertainty of not knowing if you’d make any money next week or next month.”
Last year a friend introduced her to Passionfruit, which Pascale says is exactly what she needed. She took on content writing projects and although it initially started as a way to earn extra income to supplement her journalism, Passionfruit quickly allowed her to leave her full-time role and take the plunge into freelance life.
“I was working with some really interesting people at a really exciting stage of their business journey, so I was finding that was what I was enjoying working on more. So late last year I decided to leave my staff job in journalism and make content writing my full-time profession. It was totally Passionfruit that enabled it.”
Today, Pascale is working from a sunny beach in Brazil (a cliche all freelancers strive to partake in) and has found that flexibility she craved. “It’s definitely nice to be able to pick your own projects. I feel like I’m really in control of my work, when I work and how I work. Your time is your own and my work is actually a lot more focused.”
She adds that Passionfruit has made finding clients a lot easier. “You don’t have to spend your time looking for the work, you can just get on with the work. It’s crazy that before Passionfruit you had to find your clients yourself”. Ask any newbie freelancer and they’ll tell you that finding clients is the biggest challenge of freelancing — it takes a lot of networking and even more rejection. And honestly, who has time for that?
Another challenge of being freelance is fostering confidence in yourself and the value you can bring to a client, but Pascale says she’s learned how to pitch herself thanks to Passionfruit. “One of the really useful skills I’ve gained through Passionfruit is knowing how to sell myself to potential clients, and that becoming something not daunting, but instead something I feel quite comfortable in doing,” she adds. “You can definitely see my improvement in the Chemistry Calls, now I don’t feel too worried about them and I know what I am going to say, so that has definitely been a really useful element.”
Passionfruit not only allowed her to pivot (and in some ways, upskill) from journalism into content writing, but it has given her the chance to work with clients across so many different industries — from an ed-tech startup and a US-based bookkeeping service for creatives to a VC fund and even an AI-powered construction company. “You’re always having to learn about something quite quickly because you don’t have all that assumed knowledge to rely on.”
Working on shorter projects with so many different companies is a way for her to keep things interesting, always learn new things, and stay engaged with the work.
Flexibility? Check. Meeting interesting people? Check. Seeing interesting places? Check.