Part 1: A Q&A with Ty Unglebower

By no means is my opinion the only valid one. By no means are my strategies and ideas the best. So, in an attempt to show you how others have/are going about building freelance businesses, I will be habitually posting Q&A pieces. This piece is part 1 of what will be a multi-part Q&A with Ty Unglebower.

Ty is a 32-year-old freelance writer living alone in Frederick County Maryland. In addition to keeping his own blogs he is a regular contributor to Showbizradio.net and The Brunswick Citizen. He has also contributed recently to FiND iT FREDERiCK Magazine’s Spring 2010 issue. When not contributing to those publications, he is searching out others to which he may contribute his work, creating ghost-copy for private clients, or engaging in writing his novel. When he is actually not writing, Ty spends most of his free time making use of his Minor from Marietta College by performing as an amateur actor on various local community stages. He has thus far made no direct use of his bachelor’s degree, which was in political science.

Jargon Writer: When/How did you first become a freelancer?

Ty Unglebower: In one form or another I have been a freelancer since I was in college (about 9 years ago). I’d be asked to write a little bit of copy for a flyer or newsletter or something like that. My friends knew [I wrote], so I helped out with such things when I could. I did it for free, because that’s how college tends to be. That led to me doing a few writing gigs here and there during summers, mostly the same sort of smaller projects I did at college.

I was looking for volunteer positions about two years ago, and was chosen to write some radio ads for the historical society, which got on the air. That encouraged me to continue looking for other such opportunities. Not many showed up on the volunteer front, but eventually I got paid small sums for various gigs, even though I wasn’t truly a full-time freelancer. Just helping a few acquaintances punch up reports, or write letters, which they didn’t feel they could do justice–one-shot ghost writing sort of things; obtained through word of mouth. But still nothing that made me consider being a “Freelancer Writer” per se.

Then just over a year or so ago I organized a portfolio of sorts, ordered some business cards, set up the separate email account, and went “official” with it all. In the mean time I kept up my blogging (At the time, just the one blog, about my theatre adventures). Not long after, things began to fall into a pattern.

First, the editor of a local theatre website stumbled on my acting blog, (www.offbook.blogspot.com) and asked me to contribute a column to his site. Just a short time later a letter to the editor I wrote to a local paper encouraged the editor to offer me a part-time job as a freelance reporter. And finally, a local magazine editor, who had been an actress in a previous life also stumbled across my blog, and contacted me asking for a pitch. It was around that time that I figured that I may actually have something here, if I built on it.

The fact that my luck has been lousy in the 9-5 job market my whole life helped with the decision as well. That square peg’s feeling of not fitting into the way things work in the workforce, but still having a lot to offer led to the creation of my other blog, Too XYZ. (www.tooxyz.blogspot.com)

JW: What kind of freelancing do you do and within that field, what do you specialize in?

Ty: At present, I do ghostwriting for smaller documents like letters or simple reports for small business people, or other freelancers who don’t write–mostly people I am somehow connected with. But I am not doing as much of that as I once did.

Currently my writing trends toward what I would call human interest journalism; almost by default, as those are the gigs that I have found myself offered in the last years. But I have, and I am sure will do, other things in other genres many times over before I can declare myself exclusive to one specific field.

However, I would define my specialties as both explanatory writing, (I am good at taking a lot of information and condensing it down for a general audience) and opinion/advocacy writing. My goal is to blend my writing passion with my theatre passion and become focused on the arts in my work–Education, advocacy, and examination of the arts.

See here for Part II: A Q&A with Ty Unglebower!  Or, check out Ty’s blogs, Always Off Book and Too XYZ.

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