Women Who Work: Freelance Writer and On-Air Host Hilary Sheinbaum
Hilary Sheinbaum is a brilliant freelance writer and on-air host. She has contributed to national, regional and online publications, including USA TODAY, Marie Claire magazine, Travel + Leisure magazine, amNew York, ELLE.com, and Yahoo.com. She has also been featured on FOX News, Inside Edition, The Insider, HuffPo Live and People.com as a Lifestyle and Entertainment Expert.
What made you want to start your business (or side hustle)? What inspired you to do so?
I always wanted to write. In college, I contributed to my school newspapers (at Florida State University and The University of Florida). When I graduated, I freelanced for Us Weekly out of Miami as a Stringer (reporter). Upon moving to New York, I took a job as a publicist. A few years into my PR career, I started blogging for The Huffington Post on the side, and, eventually, I decided I needed to pursue journalism full time.
How do you explain what you do to others?
Haha! It depends on who I’m talking to. My parents are just starting to understand it – 5 years later. I tell people I write stories for the various publications I contributing to (i.e. USA Today, BravoTV.com, Women’s Health Online, and more.) Sometimes they ask to read my work, so I’ll send links. I often interview celebs, so my family thought my job description was “hanging out with famous people” for a bit. I’m sure some friends think I eat for a living – my Instagram is predominantly pics of the plates situated in front of me… the notion is half true.
How long have you been doing this?
What is a day for you like?
I never have a typical day. I always wake up by 7 a.m. or 8 a.m. and workout – that’s the only definite in my day. I’m a big fan of SoulCycle, Barry’s Bootcamp, Flybarre and Physique57. After that, I shower and go on with my day. Sometimes I’m writing about food, or fitness, or interviewing a source about Brad Pitt… it just depends on what’s happening in the news that week.
How did you go about starting your career? What were some of your initial steps that you took?
I started blogging while I was still working in public relations. It definitely helped me become comfortable finding a voice and figuring out what I enjoyed writing about.
What are your biggest responsibilities?
My biggest responsibilities are making deadlines, invoicing, and paying my rent. And feeding myself. Of course, I pitch ideas, write stories, edit, promote on social media, and network with sources…the list goes on!
What has been the hardest part of your transition?
At first, it was finding a community of people to work amongst. You have to find friends with similar schedules! Being alone in an apartment all day is not easy, or fun.
What has been the easiest part of your transition?
It’s pretty easy to take personal phone calls during the day. Not always, but most of the time.
What do you think is the most important characteristic to have for someone who wants to take a similar career route to yours?
You have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable (or at least open to it). The highs are high and the lows are low. There’s no cookie cutter way to do things – you have to be willing to figure it out on your own.
What do you wish you knew before starting out on your own path?
I wish I knew not to be as hard on myself. When you’re a team of one, sometimes it’s difficult to remember that there’s only so much time in the day to accomplish a never-ending to-do list.
Did anyone help you in developing your own business?
My editors and freelancing friends. I love them.
What is your favorite thing about the industry you work in?
I get to learn something new every. Single. Day. And that’s pretty awesome.
What are some tools that you can live without?
Computer, cell phone, agenda/date book.
What do you have on your desk right now?
My cell phone, my computer, a FIJI water and a KIND bar wrapper (I was hungry)…
What do you want other women in similar situations to know about your chosen career path?
If you’re thinking of going freelance, just do it. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll learn and grow and be successful. If you fail, that only means you’ll find out sooner than later that it isn’t for you.