Nina Hendy is an Australian freelance business and finance journalist. She writes for a range of publications including The Financial Review, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and a range of specialist finance and business publications.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I always wanted to be a journalist, started out hounding my local daily newspaper during the school holidays as a teen, landing a coveted cadetship writing news and real estate. I moved between newspapers before accepting a role as a police reporter, covering courts, breaking news, sport and everything in between.
After a decade working for newspapers in-house, I moved into a business magazine as a senior journalist, leaving to start freelancing five years later. I’ve specialised as a business and finance journalist for more than a decade now, writing stories in the business and finance realm that interest me.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Efficiency is the name of the game, so I always make sure I head into my office knowing exactly what I’ve got to get done that day.
I usually have a few interviews scheduled, and I’ve got to keep on top of my inbox, because things move fast and last-minute changes are common.
Unplanned things inevitably crop up throughout the day, which I always leave capacity to handle. This could include queries from clients, calls out of the blue from PRs or editors or occasionally, requests to handle breaking news. And editors need responses to questions fast.
I head out to collect my kids from school in the afternoon, catch up with them, and head back into the office for a while longer.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Absolutely! Freelance journalism is built for flexible and remote working.
I stumbled across freelancing when working for newspapers and decided that was exactly what I wanted to do.
The concept of being able to write for a range of publications and be in charge of my workday sounded too good to be true. I’ve worked hard to make it happen over the years, mapping out an approach that works for me while also being able to cover the stories that matter to me, while also being mindful that my time is valuable and I need to be strict about the rates I accept.
The key to making it work is availability. Responding quickly to commissions and emails from editors has helped me build a successful freelance business.
I can also take days off when I want, I get to be there for my kids, throw dinner in the oven between interviews and accept commissions while watering the garden. I’ve got an incredible husband, and we share the load. Having a cleaner also helps keep our lives together.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance means working on your own terms. Taking a morning off when you need the break. Blocking time out of the calendar for your family. Working remotely and taking your work with you if you head away for a weekend or making the choice to leave it behind.
Freedom is about flexibility and being able to live in paradise while still writing for some of the most prestigious news publications in the country, and world. And being able to say no to work offers that don’t excite you.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Yes! My husband took long-service leave recently and it was a game-changer. It enabled me to accept work from new editors and experience what it was like to just focus on my work.
I’m always looking for ways to be more efficient. I’ve switched from a transcription service to an AI transcription service, and I make sure I put every single task in my calendar and invoice as soon as I send each project through to the client, so I don’t lose track.
I’ve also hired a new accountant, and she’s brilliant. Changing up the people you work with brings new energy to your business.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Stop complaining about the paywall. Organise a subscription to a reputable news outlet, and stop relying on free news. You’ll know what’s going on in the world and have access to some of the best journalism in Australia.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
My laptop, desktop PC and iPhone 12, which take top quality photos if you’re covering breaking news without a camera. I recently shot the Prime Minister on my iphone and the pics ended up running in major news outlets.
I have a lot of apps I use for work, including a few different recording apps, Xero, Canva, lots of news outlets and Zoom, of course.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
The founders of Eggy are great – worth contacting them. Tell them I sent you!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Don’t try and copy someone else’s approach to escape the daily grind. What works for someone else won’t work for you. Stick to what you’re good at, learn how to say no and be prepared to work hard to establish yourself.
It’s a process of trial and error to make sure you’re offering an amazing service to your clients while also enjoying your work, and the rest of your life.
I thank my lucky stars that I’ve got my professional independence every single day, but it’s been hard work to get here and always looking for ways to challenge myself and get better at what I do.
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