Freelancers / Interviews / Writers

Balancing the Grind with Holly Byrne, Freelance Writer & Editor

Holly Byrne is a freelance writer, editor, social media manager and presenter specialising in the lifestyle industry. She was previously the features editor at Home Beautiful magazine.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

At the moment I suppose I’m a freelance slashie – writer, editor, social media manager and presenter specialising in the lifestyle realm.

Like many aspiring journos, my career began at uni – while completing my Bachelor of Journalism at UniSA, I took on internships at Time Out Shanghai and Africa Media in South Africa. Uni is also where I landed my first editorship – as editor of UniSA’s student association magazine, Verse.

Straight from uni, I jumped into breakfast radio – a steep learning curve. Reading the news across regional Victoria and South Australia, I was up at 3am independently sourcing, writing, reading and producing news.

My heart was always in magazines though, so after about a year I packed my bags and made the move to Sydney where I joined the team at Home Beautiful Magazine as editorial coordinator.

From there, I worked my way up to eventually become the features editor which involved planning, commissioning and editing each of the monthly features. I also got the chance to become more involved with the business side of print media, especially the ideation of commercial concepts to take to market. and multi-platform campaigns for clients.

Today you’ll find me writing for titles such as Bunnings Magazine, managing the Instagram accounts of builders and designers, and presenting on camera to help brands create custom video content.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Every single day is different. Just to be even more of a cliché, I generally try to start every day with a solid sweat session – exercise in the morning helps to boost my mood and my productivity.

From there, I could be visiting a building site to check out a home-in-the-making, sitting at my desk all day writing, or interviewing experts for any of the stories I’m working on.

If it’s a sunny day, I’ll try to squeeze in an afternoon swim at the beach and then before I know it, it’s dinner time! In the case of an impending deadline, I’ll be back at my desk writing away after that.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

I don’t think my work could get any more flexible! As a freelancer, I’ve got the freedom to set my own hours, work from wherever I can find an internet connection and take on as much (or as little) work as I please.

In the current climate, this is absolutely ideal – I’m originally from South Australia and thanks to COVID-19 I haven’t been able to get home or see my family since Christmas. Sydney’s Eastern Beaches certainly aren’t the worst place to be stuck in, but as soon as those state borders open again, I’ll be on a plane and spending some quality time in my hometown.

Thankfully, I won’t have to take time off or stop working to do that!

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

At this point in my life, ‘work’ and ‘life’ are really quite synonymous so work-life balance is a total non-essential.

I don’t have a young family to rush home to, I’m living in a separate state to my own immediate family, and my job is quite social – so I never feel like I’m sacrificing a social life.

I think when you really love what you do, and especially with the flexibility of freelancing, the two merge together quite seamlessly.

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5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

When I made the leap into full time freelancing, I learnt hard and fast how important time management and self-discipline can be.

If I’m going to hit deadlines, I don’t have time for ‘writer’s block’ so I had to let go of the inner perfectionist when it came to stringing a sentence together – someone once told me, ‘any words on a page are better than no words, so just get started’ and I’ve been putting that into practice a lot lately.

Once you just force yourself to make a start, it all begins to flow. The sooner you get it finished, the more time you’ll have for ‘one last draft’ before submitting.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

The First Move by Emily J Brooks – It sounds like a self-help dating guide, and I guess it ticks that box, but it’s also a really insightful deep dive into how ambitious women are often penalised in love as a direct result and how important your life partner can be for career success.

It’s filled to the brim with fascinating social research and anecdotes that will really get you thinking.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

As long as I have my laptop, my phone and my headphones (internet connection permitting) I can live (work) anywhere.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

British author, journalist and podcast host Dolly Alderton and/or American cookbook author and NYT columnist Alison Roman – I’d love to know what a day in the life of these brilliant women entails.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to ‘Work-life balance’ – you’ll only find what works for you via trial and error.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.