Blog Remote work

The Shift: Issue #17 – Job hunting, The Social Dilemma, a history of Silicon Valley, slow journalism, how do we live ‘a good life’ in 2020?

I had a chat with two recruitment agents this week. Things are picking up – briefs are coming in and companies are hiring–mostly remote work. Employers are investing in remote training for staff and reassessing office space, so remote working is here to stay. Both were furloughed and are just back at work.

It’s good news for multi-skilled freelancers – we’ll be more in demand as employers may want fewer people on the payroll. We’re also flexible, agile, and used to working remotely.

Skills check–MS Office, Photoshop, InDesign (you can download the free trial for 30 days and do a YouTube tutorial to learn the basics). Google Analytics, HTML, SEO, & social media.

I made a one-page CV on Canva–wasn’t sure if it’s long enough, but they liked it. “It’s good to have it condensed on one page and you can expand as required.”

I had to give my elevator pitch and some adjectives people would use to describe me. Also, share what I’ve been up to over lockdown and how I’ve adapted to remote working. No change for me there, but it’s a big shift for many—they both said this is the first time they’ve worked from home.

Technology has made job-hunting easier since I started working for agencies in London (endless typing and PowerPoint tests, registering in person with my clips, and being told to turn up at 8.30 am, ready to work). Now you can sign up for job alerts, do a video pitch, create an online portfolio, learn via YouTube tutorials, and find project work via freelancer job platforms or social media. You don’t have to live in an expensive city to work for a corporate—you can live somewhere cheaper and still be on the payroll.

1# LinkedIn for Journalists Program–I did a webinar this week to find out how to make the most of LinkedIn–finding story ideas, trends, advanced search, Premium benefits, newsletters, and how to get your content in their trending news. Interesting to see its transition from job platform to a content site and it’s worth joining if you make content. You get a free upgrade to Premium for 12 months, webinars, access to the community group and can apply to publish a newsletter (invite-only).

LinkedIn for Journalists Program

2# “REALWORK, the online co-working space for women who want the accountability of an action-based co-working space with an expert and dynamic founder in the centre.” This is Fleur Emery’s new start-up, aimed at founders of businesses, women who have left companies or mat leave and want to be their own boss and freelancers. It’s a three-month rolling programme: Slack channel, workshops, online courses and Zoom classes. Selling online courses is hard work–it’s all about marketing, so the online workspace/community for women seems to be a winner – the timing is ripe.

Fleur talking about RW on the Courier podcast.
Sign up here

3# The Social Dilemma: “An eye-opening look into the way social media creates addiction and manipulate our behaviour, told by some very people who supervised the systems at places like Facebook, Google, and Twitter”.

“It will [make you] immediately want to toss your smartphone into the garbage can […] and then toss the garbage can through the window of a Facebook executive.” It asks lots of questions about data mining, which you may be aware of, but “few of us realise how deep the probe goes.”

Quotes—“If you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product.”
“We’ve gone from the information age to the disinformation age.”
“The product that these tech giants are selling is the gradual, imperceptible change in your behaviour.”

The hero is Tristan Harris, co-founder of Center for Humane Technology, who used to work at Google.

Some good tips on how to regain control of your phone. Say no to cookies, turn off notifications, remove apps you don’t need, and use alternative search engines like Qwant.

An excellent, thought-provoking documentary, but it’s a shame to dramatise it. I tried to sell it to the teen by saying everyone’s talking about it, new horror film, etc.

“No one’s talking about it, except middle-aged jobaholics on LinkedIn.”

Twitter thread by Michael Shermer
Watch on Netflix

4# Silicon Valley Historical Association–I’d love to write a book about Silicon Valley and interview some female entrepreneurs out there. This is a significant starting point for research: a non-profit whose mission is “to research and record the history of Silicon Valley and to provide information about this unique and important culture to educational institutions and the public.”

“We began filming high-tech entrepreneurs and inventors. We asked the interviewees about their beginnings, the struggles they faced, their mentors, their lucky breaks, and their visions for the future. With their stories, we hope to educate the public about the unique people and supportive environment in Silicon Valley that has made it possible for many of the technological changes to take place that we are seeing in the world today — the computer, the Internet, genetic engineering and breakthrough medical technologies — just to name a few.”

Silicon Valley Historical Association 
The Entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley (Audiobook)

5# The Correspondent–an online platform for unbreaking news, collaborative, constructive, ad-free journalism. Their goal is to change what news is about and how it’s made and funded. Lots of excellent articles to give you the context behind the headlines. Like how the biggest story in the UK is not Brexit (it’s life expectancy). I’m enjoying The Good Life podcast with Emily Dreyfuss, a San Francisco based tech writer. How do we live a good life in 2020? There’s much talk about tech & how it’s made our lives easier, yet we’re still not happy…

It’s the future of journalism, and I’m happy to support it. Happy 1st birthday!

Intro to The Correspondent


The Rise of Email Newsletters (here are some you’ll love…)

The email newsletter is having a moment. Just reading about how they are part of the ‘Passion Economy’ in this month’s Courier. I see a new one launch every day, and women are on it. They’re a more intimate form of communication with people who actually want to read your stuff. Mine will focus on writing, creativity and work culture.

What else do I want this year? More fun. Deeper connections. To prioritise my own projects and happiness (getting up an hour earlier to work on my own stuff). To sort out my health. I have rheumatoid arthritis and want to find out what’s causing it and get it into remission. It’s no fun when your fingers keep getting stuck when you write for a living. Over the past year, I’ve been working with Gayle Merchant on my nutrition and have just done a comprehensive gut test to try and get to the bottom of it! (literally – stool samples in mum’s fridge over Christmas). I also want to feel stronger, so as well as running, which keeps me sane, I want to try some weightlifting this year. 

I also love a good tattoo so have decided to go for it and get a full sleeve 🙂

More travel. To read a book a month. Better paid work. I’ve signed up to the Hoxby CollectiveThe Dots, and I’m checking out The Allbright, a members’ club for women. Interesting event programme and some inspiring women on board – member spotlights. It would also be great to have a regular coworking space in London. 

So, if you want to take your working life up a notch and set some goals this year, check out The Professional Freelancer by Anna Codrea-Rado. How to set freelance goals you’ll actually stick to, and the importance of distinguishing between outcome goals – things you don’t have any control over like “getting a book deal” and process goals – actionable steps you can control like “emailing five agents this week”. Why it’s important to do both. Here’s some more freelance friendly content to check out, via @JessicaAnneLord.

What I’m reading

How to escape your phone and other life hacks

Family life suffers from always-on work culture

‘I quit life as a BBC journalist to live as a jade carver in China’

Resounding NUJ victory in landmark equal pay case. A wake-up call to all employers!

Little Black Book – A Toolkit for Working Women

DCW chief Swati Maliwal hospitalized after fainting on 12th day of hunger strike

Bittersweet legacy of a blazing talent – Motherwell: A Girlhood

Elizabeth Wurzel and the illusion of Gen-X success

CES 2020 – all the latest news and highlights – the joy of tech!

What I’m listening to

#237 Emma Forrest: Writing & Transcendental Meditation. Dreams and creativity. Keep a pen handy. You are most creative when you don’t realise you’re doing it.

Lana Del Ray – Norman Fucking Rockwell

Where I’m going

StartUp 2020 – the UK’s biggest start-up show of the new year.

The Allbright

Nicci Talbot is a freelance journalist and copywriter. She can be reached at or follow her on Twitter @niccitalbot.

Photo by Lee Soo hyun on Unsplash


Copywriting: Wealth from Words

NUJ training with Eugene Costello and Nick Saalfeld 

Copywriting and branded content creation pay two or three times more than conventional journalism and there is near-insatiable demand for skilled practitioners. Join Eugene Costello and Nick Saalfeld to learn how to delight clients and what it takes to command truly stellar day rates.

So, I went along to find out more… a really enjoyable course, funny, entertaining and inspiring with lots of anecdotes, jokes and useful tips. Eugene focuses on B2C work and Nick, B2B and thought leadership so good insight into the pros and cons of both and different rates of pay.

Key takeaways: Do corporate work. There’s lots of it out there and it pays well. Know your worth and charge a decent day rate. Don’t do piecemeal or project work – sites like People Per Hour and Upwork are saturated. Look for niche areas like tech/blockchain, where there isn’t as much competition. Focus on building a relationship with a client. I also love the idea of having a ‘capability statement’ instead of a CV.

Types of copywriting:

·      Advertising

·      Business writing

·      Blogging for clients

·      In-house journalism

On finding work:

·      Contact small businesses and individuals with high net worth and ask if they need help

·      Contact advertising agencies via LinkedIn

·      Facebook groups – A Few Good HacksJourno ResourcesNo 1 Freelance Media Women, & copywriting groups… Eleanor GooldJackie Barrie

·      Have your own website with slides/logos on it featuring your best clients and an online portfolio. Blog about the companies you’re working with or want to be. Eugene got an in-house journalism gig with Octopus Energy by writing a blog post about their excellent customer service… which caught the eye of the CEO when he shared it on Twitter… a charity donation and eventually, some work!

·      Serendipity – be out there talking to people, go to meetups – Nick runs one for Pharma professionals in London, carry business cards

·      Find your niche – for Nick, it’s thought leadership. Think about where your work fits into the company – do your research and then produce 10 pieces. Move from piecemeal to transactional work to relationship building and make yourself valuable. He jumps at the chance to go in-house, meet people and work out how he can contribute. “Get out of the transactional crap into long-term value work.”

·      Create a ‘capability statement’ instead of a CV, a two-page document showing clients, sectors, logos, agencies worked for, reference examples, 6 referees, commercial boilerplate. Nick has one and updates it every three months. “It knocks the socks off a CV!”

·      Nick also hires writers and looks for: critical thinking, logic and structure in complexity, curiosity, conscientiousness, business sense, horizon scanning, adaptability, flexibility, creativity, emotional intelligence, self-motivation, prioritisation and time management, embracing and celebrating change

·      Learn about new areas where there’s less competition – e.g. cryptocurrency, tech, blockchain

·      Content management agencies – worth signing up for but be selective as the pay can be terrible. Check out and

What can you earn?

·      You get what you expect – rates can vary between £150-500 a day

·      On knowing your worth – Eugene asked for £500 per day at Octopus Energy and thought he’d fluffed it as things went quiet… but he held out rather than going back with a lower offer and they offered him £400 per day to be their in-house journalist

·      If there’s something they like about your work don’t be afraid to ask for more. It’s a good thing to try and hold your rate

·      Avoid project rates or piecemeal work – develop a sense of your own value

On writing:

·      Forget the tone of voice corporate bullshit. Speak to people as humans. Be warm, personal, concise, & write as you speak. Innocent Drinks had a revolutionary way of communicating with consumers

On freelance journalism:

·      “Writers are going down the rabbit hole of chasing ever-diminishing work.”

·      “Print journalism has trodden journalists down until they have no respect left for themselves.”

On copywriting:

·      “It’s a nice life. I can cherry-pick between commercial work, which is well paid and other work – features, press trips.”

·      “Anyone can write and get Grammarly. Clients are paying you for your intelligence, ideas, and perspective – not to write!” They pay you to turn up on time, get on with the team, make coffee etc. Consider how you make people feel and know that ALL your interactions matter

·      Ethics – only work with clients you feel comfortable with.

Also, at £15, this course was a steal and far cheaper than equivalent commercial courses I’ve seen advertised. One of the many perks of being an NUJ member!


Photo by Hannah Grace on Unsplash