“Career Diaries” is a column from Step Up Magazine where we feature established professionals on what it’s like--and what it takes--to enter their field. Today we are excited to learn from Cameron Bruns.
Cameron Bruns is a freelance writer who is passionate about nature, wellness, and social good. She is the co-founder and managing editor of Just Us Gals (JUGS), a women’s career blog and networking community. Just Us Gals was named the best blog in Boston by WGBH’s Boston A-List in 2017.
Cameron recently moved to Dublin, Ireland, and enjoys exploring the city and traveling to other parts of Europe as often as her budget and schedule will allow!
Industry: Marketing and Sustainability
Job title: Freelance Content Marketer
Years of experience: 9
Where you went to college: St. Lawrence University
In a few sentences, please tell us what you do and what your job involves.
In the spring, my husband and I relocated to Dublin, Ireland from Boston. Before that, I worked as an in-house content marketer at The Nature Conservancy for two years. Though I loved that job, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to live abroad.
We don’t know how long we’ll be in Ireland, so instead of applying for in-house jobs in Dublin, I decided to launch my freelance business. Working for myself means I can set my own hours, making it much easier to travel and enjoy all that Europe has to offer!
As a freelance content marketer, I write SEO-optimized web content, create and manage CMS pages, and also do occasional design work. The clients I work with are all focused on social good, wellness, and environmental sustainability. Since this is a field I know well, it is easier to write compelling content and, of course, it feels good to work on something that I’m passionate about.
I’m also the co-founder of a women’s career and lifestyle blog called Just Us Gals. I manage a team of nine incredible women that help put together helpful, applicable blog content and a monthly event event series. We’re best known for our ‘Who’s That Gal’ column in which women in different careers share their stories.
What is something you wish you knew about your industry before you entered it?
When I first graduated from college in 2009, I didn’t even know that the field of content marketing existed! I wish I knew that web writing was going to be such a big deal because I would have gotten into it much earlier. Instead, I tried my hand at a few other career paths—one as a paralegal and another as a buyer for an e-comm retailer—before I hit my stride in marketing.
What has surprised you about your industry?
In freelancing, there’s a lot of variety, both in the type of work and the clients. I love this because even though I’m working from home, each day is different.
What does an average morning look like for you?
One of the hardest parts of working from home is staying motivated, so creating a productive routine is very important. I wake up around 8 am (sleeping in is a MAJOR benefit of the freelance life) and get a pot of coffee started right away. I do about 20 minutes of chores around the house to get moving a bit and so that my workspace is nice and clean before I start the day. Then I open up my email and review my google tasks for the day and get started. I take a break from work around 9 am for breakfast. It’s nice to break up the morning a little bit!
What does an average afternoon look like for you?
I work on my freelance writing or webpage building assignments until about 1 pm and then take a half hour lunch break. Since I only spend about 15 mins of this time actually eating, it gives me time to do a few more things around the house or work on travel plans! I go back to work from 1:30 pm until 3 pm and then I head to the gym. Making my own schedule allows me go to the gym in the middle of the day when it’s more empty. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I run three miles and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I swim a half mile. On Fridays, I do yoga at home with the DownDog app. After showering and such, I get back to work until around 6:30 pm or 7:00 pm. By then I’m starving for dinner, and spend the rest of the night eating, relaxing, and winding down. Of course, if I have a major deadline, I make adjustments like spending a shorter amount of time at the gym or starting my day earlier than usual. In general, starting the day by reviewing my google tasks help me prioritize and avoid any major time crunches --- so far!
What are some of your favorite parts of your job and what are some of your not-so-favorite parts?
Not working with people in-person
Figuring out finances and taxes on my own
Insecurity. It takes a little bit of work to find more clients when a project ends!
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
“You’re smarter than you think.”
Like many women in the workplace, I’ve often suffered from imposter syndrome. I was lucky, though, that I had a wonderful mentor in college while participating in an internship at the Environmental Protection Agency in Boston. She taught me not to be nervous about working independently and to be confident in myself. Though asking questions can be helpful, she encouraged me to figure things out on my own, which has helped me become stronger and more assertive than I might have been without her encouragement.
What is your advice to a student who is interested in entering the industry you work in?
Network! Attending events and meeting people is critical to becoming a freelancer. By attending wellness and sustainability happenings in Boston over the past few years, I was able to meet people from businesses and nonprofits that I could later talk to when seeking clients.
What are your favorite business tools/resources and why?
As I mentioned earlier, I completely rely on Google Tasks (updated in Spring 2018) without it, I simply wouldn’t get anything done on time. I also use Google Docs for everything which is key when I travel. It means I can access all of my work from anywhere in the world.
But those are pretty obvious ones. My real secret weapon is Grammarly. Grammarly is a web browser plugin that goes beyond spell check to catch writing errors. As a writer, I try to be careful about my grammar, but when you’re writing quickly, little things can slip by, so it’s wonderful to have a bit of a safety net like Grammarly on my side.