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EP 220: Relaunching as a Content Editor After Freelance Writing and Editing, with Elisabeth Galvin

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Elisabeth Galvin is a content editor at Diversity Network, an organization committed to equality, diversity and inclusion and creating a better workplace for all. We met Elisabeth when she invited Carol Fishman Cohen to join her in a fireside chat session at Diversity Network’s Inclusion 2021 virtual conference. Elisabeth has worked as a journalist and author in the US, London, Australia and Hong Kong and took a nine-year career break during which time she was a freelance writer and editor. Elisabeth discusses how she got her freelance jobs and expanded her network so that she could write for a range of magazines and newspapers. She also talks about her recent relaunch, how she overcame some initial challenges during her transition, and the work she does at Diversity Network. (Shoutout to Loralee Hamilton of Oracle at timestamp 17:04)

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Carol Fishman Cohen: Welcome to 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch the podcast where we discuss return to work strategies, advice, and success stories. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, CEO, and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. Today, we welcome Elizabeth Galvin. We met when Elizabeth reached out to us to see if she could host a fireside chat session with me as part of diversity networks inclusion, 2021 for virtual conference. And we'll talk about that more. It was a great experience and I appreciate being invited. And then Elizabeth told us she was a relauncher. So we were extra thrilled about that and asked if we could interview her for this podcast. As a journalist and author, Elizabeth has worked in the U S, London, Australia, and Hong Kong for a range of magazines and newspapers.

Elizabeth took a nine-year career break from the traditional workforce. During which time she was a freelance writer and editor. In this episode, we'll speak with Elizabeth about her experience, freelancing and learn about her transition to working as a content editor for Diversity Network and organization, committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion, and creating a better workplace for all.

Elizabeth, welcome to 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch.

Elizabeth Galvin: Thank you very much. Absolutely delighted to be here. And it's really funny being interviewed actually, usually I'm the one doing the interviewing, so it's quite nice to be on the other side of the table.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yes and you interviewed me. So it's fun for me to be interviewing people to have that opportunity.

Can we first start by asking you to tell us a little bit about your background and what you did before your career break? And then what prompted you to step away from the traditional workforce?

Elizabeth Galvin: I was a magazine editor and writer in London. I started, as soon as I left university, it was all I wanted to do from when I was eight years old.

I was wanting to be an author or a journalist. And, began on women's magazines and lifestyle magazines, and then, went into entertainment, as well and contract publishing, and also worked for an airline magazine as well. And I was fortunate enough to do that in Australia, London, and Hong Kong. And in Hong Kong, I met my husband and we started a family and that's when I began freelancing.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And so you've really, you've lived all over the world. It seems and so you were on career break, you were freelancing. What does that mean to be freelancing? And does that mean you have to suddenly start publicizing yourself as a freelancer? Do you have to set up a website? Like how do you even start freelancing as a writer?

Elizabeth Galvin: Actually as in all impoverished writers will know. We don't get paid very much so I was ever since I began as a journalist, I was quite glad when I went for my first interview, actually, they said they were going to pay me because I wasn't expecting to get paid. As a journalist, everyone freelances, or I can't speak for everybody, but many people were freelance as soon as they start their jobs because that supplements income and also to make it slightly more interesting.

When I first started, I was working on a trade magazine, but I wanted to work for consumer magazines. So I would freelance for women's magazines. And then eventually that's how I got my (inaudible). But so very used to freelancing really, and it's basically, being as persistent as you can. So sending lots of ideas to the editor and targeting publications that you're interested in writing for.

When I had my career break, I was really fortunate actually and found that I could freelance for all sorts of magazines. I never would have got a job on staff with because they probably only have one person or two people and doing that particular job. So I was really fortunate enough to write for a Tatler in Hong Kong, which, and Steve Watson pages is such a thrill.

So I suppose it is a bit of self promotion. It's all also about who, and once I established my career for about 10 years. By the time I had gone freelance. So I had a reasonable number of contacts in my little black book. But actually at that time, social media probably wasn't as prevalent as it is today.

But so I did a few years later, I did begin my own website and Instagram and social media accounts, but, it was good old fashioned word of mouth and, going for a drink in the pub afterwards that sort of got the work going.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Wow. And then once you are established, you write an article for a publication and they like it.

Then you have a little bit of a relationship with them and you can pitch more to the editors or does it not work like that?

Elizabeth Galvin: Yeah. Unless you make a really awful mistake, which luckily so far I haven't done. So yes, it, and also that's how I actually got all other work as well. So tackler has a bridal magazine too, which was absolutely a dream come true to work on.

And that said, it's got my name from the tablet contact. So yes, in a way to expand your network, if you, write for one particular publication, which also has others in the same stable, and as long as you don't make a mistake, hopefully they ask you to come back again.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Alright, so you've dropped a few hints here, but are there certain types of topics and certain types of articles that you like to write about?

And then do you become known for being a writer on those topics or do you try to get assignments as varied as possible?

Elizabeth Galvin: When I first started, I worked on a complimentary health trade magazine, which was wonderful. I really enjoyed that. It was such a good introduction into journalism and health is something I'm personally interested in as well as professionally.

So I was a health journalist for a long time and (inaudible) subject that, more and more people are interested in aren't they? And, so there's always lots of research and plenty going on in that area. So I think overall I've always been interested in health. They're the magazines I buy and that's the subject I'm really interested in health and sports and fitness.

But, You can't pick and choose sometimes as a journalist. And I remember even pitching to a men's top shelf magazine and they did say, make sure you read the publication before, here's some to read this weekend. And I was so embarrassed. I had to leave them outside my apartment door in a bag because I couldn't even bear to have them in my apartment.

So I went sheepishly back and said, actually no I'm probably not the person for you. But then, it's different opportunities. Isn't it? When I was in Australia, I was fortunate enough to work on a television and entertainment magazine, which opened my eyes to film critiquing, and television reviewing.

And that's when I got my job in Hong Kong as well. So I did something a bit different than which was fantastic and know, I can never watch a film in the same way again. Now I'm always thinking of what to take notes. And somebody bought me a really useful pen, which had the lights on it. So I could write notes in the cinema with that.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Oh, that's a good idea. I did one film review because there was this movie called The Intern, which was about Robert DeNiro taking as a 70 year old intern taking this, job. I guess as an intern and Anne Hathaway startup. And so I wrote a review of that for Harvard business review and I realized I had to see it more than once I went back to see it a second time. Because I just want to make sure that the things that I was writing about where were actually happening and I didn't make anything up or gloss over something. Yeah. So I only did that once, but I learned that. So how did you get that first job in the film and TV publication?

Elizabeth Galvin: I was working in the middle of central Australia, actually as a journalist and photographer in Alice Springs, which is the equivalent of kind of the grand canyon. So it's very, red and dry and dusty and there was one newspaper. Actually, there were two newspapers, we had arrival, but it was an amazing place to live because, there were lots of indigenous people there, lots of (inaudible) art and traditional ways of living and, because it was so remote, it was thousands and thousands of miles from anywhere. And there was lots of catalysts stations and the children would learn their lessons through the school of the air, which is the world's biggest classroom. So they had to speak on the radio and speak to their teacher and maybe there's zoom now, but at the time, romantic and amazing place to live.

And actually prince Charles came to visit while I was there and I covered his Royal visits. And so it was a wonderful experience. But after two. It was quite an isolating place to live, especially as a young person and I was ready to explore the city. So I came to Sydney and I was fortunate enough to have a contact, actually big, a magazine publishing house in Sydney, Australian consolidated press, and I got a few interviews and was fortunate enough to work on the, satellite television entertainment listings magazine, which was largest high circulating magazine, in Australia a bit like the reader's digest space it has very wide circulation. So that was wonderful experience. And I got to watch lots of television, which I enjoy.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Wow. So that sounds like you went from one extreme to the other in terms of your living environment, and just your life experience there. So you mentioned at the beginning that one of the first freelance assignments you had, you were surprisingly paid for it. You weren't expecting to be, how did you figure out what to charge and did they just say, this is what we're paying you or was there ever a conversation about it?

And then as you were more experienced, were you able to charge higher rates?

Elizabeth Galvin: That would be the sensible thing and being a finance expert. Carol, you'll definitely be in touch with them, I was, I just, they said we pay you how much I think it was per word. And I said, thank you very much. I'm delighted to do this. So (inaudible) figured into my equation, unfortunately.

Carol Fishman Cohen: That's really important for people to know, sometimes that, that's the way it works. So you mentioned that very briefly that now you have a website and you're on Insta and some social media. Can you get into a little bit more detail there? Like how often do you post and or did you post before you have had your current job and how would you advise people who are freelancing now to use social media to help them get more assignments?

Elizabeth Galvin: My current job is content editor, which I think is a fancy way of saying a sort of online journalist. And I'll have to say my skills are still very interpersonal. So I really much prefer speaking to you like this, Carol.

Ideally it would be face to face in a real environment. But obviously social media does have its place and LinkedIn has been a very useful resource, particularly as a journalist, it's a golden ticket to get access to people. Which is amazing. So I would say LinkedIn has been my number one place for both finding out about jobs and writing stories and making contacts.

Also Facebook, I would say when I was looking for work, I did send messages to people who were all around the world, the friends that I'd met over the years and just told them I was looking for work. And that helped as well. And I think also remembering all the contacts you've worked with, if you've made a good impression when you were younger, before you left the workforce, people will remember that.

It probably seems like such a long time ago since you left your job, but people who haven't taken a career break, to them that history will mean something different. But if you've made a good impression, you've worked hard. They'll remember you and it's worth reaching out and contacting them.

And social media is a good way to do that I suppose because their recent contact details will be there. But I do enjoy speaking on the phone or having a zoom call or face to face (inaudible). Cause I think that does help, seeing people's faces and, reconnecting in that way, remembering personal details about them or their family or what they are into.

And I think that helps to build a relationship with people again.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Very consistent with what we say about being frozen in time, that people remember you from the past. Even if you don't think that will actually happen, you get back in touch with them. They remember you, and they remember you as you were when you were working with them or going to school with them.

So let's talk Elizabeth, about your decision to return to the full-time workforce. Did you just wake up one day and decide, you know what I'm ready and it's time, or was it gradual? And then what were some of the steps you took that ended up with the role that you have now at Diversity Network?

Elisabeth Galvin: I suppose actually I might just talk a little bit about something extra, as well.

I remember going to a talk by, agendas called miss money penny used to write the financial column for the financial times and she can (inaudible) Hong Kong. And she said she was a trailing spouse. So she traveled all around the world with her husband. And she was in Hong Kong the same time as me. And she said, do you know sometimes when you are taken to different countries and you can't, I was fortunate.

I would say Jen was such a fantastic career because it is very portable and you can do it from anywhere. And it lends itself very well to freelance and flexible working but for her as a financial person that didn't necessarily work for her. So she said, what was really important was to think a bit more broadly.

And she did some courses, she did a master's I think, and some research and kept her skills going that way. And also it was personally satisfying as well. So actually when I, when we moved back to the UK from Australia, there was an opportunity for me to write a book and it worked perfectly again, I had two children by that time and it was something I could do at home.

And at two o'clock in the morning if I had to. So that was really brilliant. So I would say that was a very useful thing to keep going in the background as well. It was an opportunity. It paid even less than journalism, so I'd never been able to do it as my full-time job, but because I was working part-time it worked brilliantly.

And actually now I'm just about to have my second book published and I've started a third. That sometimes it's where thinking laterally about your career and what would be useful to keep bubbling away if you can, before you relaunched properly. But the reason why I sort of relaunched was because my third child is going to start school next year. And I thought I should perhaps take miss money penny's advice, and make sure I've honed my skills a bit before I start applying for jobs. And my husband doesn't share the same view as me that, it's a delight to be paid for something he thinks you should earn that in a proper way, especially when you have family. I was thinking of ways to become more commercial really and content editing and online journalism is certainly the place where there are perhaps more jobs than traditional magazines these days, and also public relations and, conferencing and things like that. So I cast my net widely and contacted all my friends, including a school friends who is actually a university friend as well, and asked her for... she worked out, 20 years before me that, journalism and public broadcasting doesn't necessarily pay as well as other types of work. So she had hone test skills and become a marketing and public relations expert and gave me some really good advice and including the fact that she was looking for somebody to work with her.

At the same time a friend had told me about iRelaunch and also another local company near where I was currently living in Connecticut. And so I started looking at the website and the friend who told me about it had just started, working. I think she, her, Lauralee Hamilton.

She works and benefited from your workshops at work, as well as the iRelaunch program.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Hi Lauralee, we just want to say hi to you. She, Lauralee relaunched through the Oracle career relaunch program, which is a direct hire program where you're hired as an employee from day one.

Elizabeth Galvin: Yes. She Lauralee really opened my eyes to the iRelaunch program and the idea of going back into the traditional workforce, I had been freelancing for a long time, but I suppose that's quite a different proposition than having a part-time formal job. So it was really useful to think about work in a different way and think about the skills that would be useful for me to acquire particularly things like Google calendar, Google meet and all these sorts of technological things, which I hadn't come across really when I was writing my book with my pen and ink and paper.

That's that's what I'd say to answer that question.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Okay. So how long did you look for roles before you found this opportunity? And what was involved in the interview process?

Elizabeth Galvin: I found the role in minus nine months actually because my daughter still hasn't started school. So it was actually, it came a year early.

I thought it would take a year for me to upscale and learn some more (inaudible) perhaps get a certificate or a post-graduate diploma. But timing wise, fate was on my side and fortune. And, it does actually make a difference working with somebody who you have been to the same school as under the same university, because even though he hadn't done exactly the same courses, we knew each other.

And that was a shortcut to how we thought. And, obviously Diversity Network is all about diversity of thoughts and diversity of people say, ironically, we are probably two quite similar people working together, but we have a team of other diverse people. So it actually happened very quickly.

There was, a formal interview, but it was more of actually have a trial for both of our sides to see how it would work. And, to find out if I could handle the, work-life balance. And if I was a suitable person for the role, I haven't been sacked yet. I've been working since May.

So hopefully that...

Carol Fishman Cohen: So this was a classmate of yours or someone you knew from before. And then the idea was let's just try this out and see if it would work?

Elizabeth Galvin: Yes. Yeah. So we knew we met each other when I was, when we were 16, we stayed in touch and then actually happened to go to the same university and stayed in touch all the time.

Carol Fishman Cohen: So Elizabeth, it was a little bit of a trial run at the beginning. And like, how did you figure out what to do? Like in your first few

Elizabeth Galvin: It was strange really because there was no way I could have ever been into the office with my Diversity Network colleagues because they're all based in the UK and I'm in the United States.

So I suppose I would always have to work remotely, but it was strange not to go into that first day in the office. And first step starting after nine years of not being in the workplace. So the first day I remember, having very long conversations over Google meet and speaking in detail about the role and watching, and reading what my predecessor had done.

And she very kindly shared some notes with me. But I remember at the end of the first day having to have a lie down, it was so intense, the amount of knowledge and the sort of not catching up of nine years worth of technology and terms and having to even use a different font.

I was so used to writing in times new Roman, for my books and suddenly I had to write in Canberra because that was a more accessible font for all people who use Diversity Networks material. So things like that, you think, oh, I've kept going. I've worked for a long time. I've never really stopped working.

I was freelancing, but actually, and there is a lot to learn for me. There was a lot to learn, getting back into the workplace, but also it was a bit, you know I feel very fortunate that my boss took, took me on trust and trusted the I'd work hard. And I think those technological barriers can be overcome if that's the thing that employers are worried about, which I think is consistent with, iRelaunchers as well, they all things that can be learned and it's through practice.

And as we just did our inclusion 2021 conference where we had 85 speakers. So I had to send out approximately 170 Google calendar invites. So that was really good practice. And I can do it now. It's being patient, having a patient boss, but also being willing to learn as well and having the confidence that you can do even if the first day is exhausting and you feel like your brain's about to explode it won't, it can cope.

You can come back tomorrow and learn a bit more.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yeah. I was going to ask you about the diversity inclusion conference, because I wanted to know, first, what does a content editor do day to day? And can you walk us through a typical day and maybe there isn't one because you had the conference and now you're doing something else, but can you talk a little bit about how your role is evolving depending on what is going on in the organization at the time?

Elizabeth Galvin: The content editor is a fancy way of saying online journalist, really?

So Diversity Network, as you said, is a conference company for diversity and inclusion, webinar. And it's for HR and diversity and inclusion professionals to learn from. So the conference we had was 85 speakers speaking on different aspects of diversity inclusion. You spoke about Relaunchers.

There are other people speaking about the gender pay gap or the speaking about racial equality or they speaking about accessibility in the workplace. And so as a content editor, it's very broad and you're right there isn't probably a typical day. It's a broad job description, but it's basically communication.

So from social media sites, writing stories, picking up on diversity inclusion stories of the day, or if there are different weeks, for example, last week was European fertility week. And one of our speakers at inclusion was speaking about the importance of fertility in the workplace and why actually it is, an issue that does affect six out of 10 couples.

And so it's likely that there will be people in the workplace, undergoing, the fertility journey of some sort. I read an interview, did an interview with her and that's how fertility week, last week, next week we're having a racial equality day. So it was my job to prepare the speakers, find four different speakers who'd speak on different aspects of racial equality and then pre-record their presentation so we could generate a full transcript of the session, to allow everyone to access it for maximum accessibility. And then also interview them as well about themselves and the work they're doing and use that video or podcasts stories, or written stories as well.

Carol Fishman Cohen: So you had to get up to speed really quickly on interviewing people on video and everything that's involved with the producing of that. I don't know if you get involved in the editing, but certainly, I know that you interviewed me and we did a session together. So was that a pretty steep learning?

Elizabeth Galvin: In some ways there were things to learn, particularly with the technology. And there were a few hairy moments. Unfortunately, one of our panels didn't the file got corrupted and we had to do it all again at very short notice. But, I would say as a journalist, the skills are quite transferable.

It would be helpful to have had some broadcast. Particularly to stop saying, or, or your readers will be listening to all my albums in there.

Carol Fishman Cohen: I have not heard too many ums or even any of them.

Elizabeth Galvin: But yes, it was a steep learning curve in some ways, but actually the skills are transferable.

And I suppose it's just having that confidence to believe that the foundation that you've been doing for years is useful. It is applicable, but it's just a slightly different medium.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Well, Elizabeth, can you tell us a little bit more about how people can find out information about Diversity Network and any other events that you have coming up?

Elizabeth Galvin: I really appreciate that question. Thank you. We're a free network for people to join. We have about five and a half thousand people around the world, mostly D I diversity and inclusion professionals and HR money. And our website is www.diversity-network.com. And we have usually an event a month and it's absolutely free to join and it's free to attend the webinars.

As I said, the next one is next week, on the 16th of November and it's about racial equality. And then in January we have a fertility afternoon and February, we have a mental health conference. They're all free to join their online. If you register for them, you can access the material on demand afterwards.

If the time zone is slightly different from where you're living in the world. And again, all the information is on the website, diversity- network.com

Carol Fishman Cohen: Excellent. Thank you. Elizabeth, I want to end by asking you the question that we ask all of our podcast, guests, and that is what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience?

Even if it's something that we've already talked about today.

Elizabeth Galvin: I think there's never been a better time to go back to the work place. We're very fortunate. I think at the time, at the moment, the hybrid model of the future of work means that flexible working and hybrid working is going to be the future of the workplace, which is brilliant for people who may not be able to go into the office full time, or may be looking for more flexible working at least to start with. And I would also say, have confidence in yourself as well. I was very inspired by your TED talk. I'll never forget the before and after picture of you. You said you enjoyed your time at home, but you did look a different person when you were driving your family around.

You had no doubt that you'd get back into the workforce and you have become so successful in perhaps a slightly different way from what you were doing before. But, it probably, for me, it seems such a big gap and a chasm to cross to get back into that professional workplace, even the things that you wear or the routine that you have.

But, it's really not in any technological things you might be worried about or skills is a challenge perhaps to learn them, but it's something that's very fulfilling. And I think you also don't have to compromise either. It will be possible for you to find a role that suits you in the way you want to work and to maximize your skills and to develop your skills as well.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Thank you for saying that. I'm glad that Ted talk was inspiring. And I feel very connected to every relauncher who's going through this journey and it's always gratifying to reconnect and connect and reconnect with Relaunchers, especially Elizabeth, like you, talking very specifically about your journey back and these different touch points at which iRelaunchers was in the mix. So thank you for mentioning that and thank you very much for joining us today.

Elizabeth Galvin: I really enjoyed speaking with you. I feel very grateful to iRelaunch and it's actually really nice to reflect on my career and what I hope to achieve in the future as well.

So thank you very much for the opportunity.

Carol Fishman Cohen: And thanks for listening to 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch the podcast where we discuss return to work strategies, advice, and success stories. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the CEO, and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host for more information on iRelaunch conferences and events. To sign up for a job board and access our returned to work tools and resources go to irelaunch.com

And if you liked this podcast, be sure to rate it on apple podcasts and your favorite podcast platform, and be sure to share this podcast with a friend on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media. Thanks for joining us.


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