Monday, January 18, 2010

Five Year Mark

Hey, I'm celebrating an anniversary! Five years ago, I quit my full time editing job and became a freelance writer. I'd been freelancing in some form since 2002, but in 2005 I made that giant, scary leap. That picture you see at the left is my very first headshot, taken the spring of 2005. The second is my current headshot, which you see on this blog.

Five years ago, I worked from a one bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a big rambling house in Haddonfield. My desk was shoved into the corner of the living room, which also served as a dining room since the apartment only had a galley kitchen. I was not a runner. I didn't have a dog. The Jersey Shore was just a place I went to every summer. And I was scared out of my mind that I'd pulled the plug on a regular job and paycheck to try something new.

Freelancing's still scary. The Great Recession has not been kind to me, and sometimes I wonder why the heck I bought a house when I never know what my income will be from month to month.

But if I'd have to do it all over again, I would. No other job could have given me the experiences that freelancing has. Without it, I'd have never become a runner, which I started because of an assignment. I'd never have learned so much about the Jersey Shore. I'd never have known half the people I know today. I'd never have such a fine collection of sweatpants to wear to work - in a real office in its own room, one I painted royal blue the day I signed the mortgage papers to my house. The desk, though, is still the same.

So here are 10 highlights from the last five years:

1. First article as a full time freelancer: Profile of Kermit Roosevelt, author of In the Shadow of the Law, for Philadelphia Style magazine.
2. Oddest Moment: Pauly Shore grabbed my foot in the middle of an interview.
3. Magazine you never knew I wrote for: Hooters.
4. Biggest disappointment: A fantastic article I wrote for Wired never ran because my editor left, and his replacement sat on it until it became stale. DOH. I did get paid, though.
5. Coolest interviewee: John Loring, design director of Tiffany's.
6. Life changing moment: Helping Matt Katz propose to his now wife.
7. Longest continuous client: New Jersey Monthly, who was there from my first week, and who I still write for today.
8. Moment that made me cry: My first New York Times clip.
9. Coolest experience, short: Covering the World Series parade.
10. Coolest experience, long: Becoming Jersey Shore Jen. Really, folks. I never set out to do this, but it's been one helluva ride.

But I can't rest on my laurels! No freelancer can. I'll be announcing something fun and shore related soon, so stay tuned!

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Kimmber said...

What an accomplishment! Happy 5 year anniversary.

Kimmber said...

What an accomplishment! Happy 5 year anniversary.

Shann said...

happy anniversary!! congratulations :)

Joy Manning said...

Happy anniversary, Jen! You've been my freelancing inspiration pretty much from the moment I met you.

Brian said...

Congratulations and thanks for sharing your experiences!

Leigh Wetterau said...

Jen, it is a small small world-

If you have a copy of that first article you wrote- look at the picture of kermit roosevelt- my name is on it somewhere- I took that picture! haha That was the first picture I ever had published-

We are obviously cosmically connected.

anyway! Congrat on your 5 years of freelancing!! :)

John T. said...

Keep up the good work, Jen! I enjoy your blog about the Shore. I live in Boston now, but still visit in the summer.

Mary Lebeau said...

Happy anniversary, Jen. And I knew all about Hooters.

mattkatz said...

whoo-hooo! Number 6! Happy anniversary!