Today’s guest is Danna Lorch from Brookline, Massachusetts. Danna has been a freelance writer for 11 years, mostly focusing on journalism. She has covered the visual arts, design, architecture, the trades and parenting. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Architectural Digest and many other publications.
Before becoming a writer, she managed nonprofits in the Middle East and Africa. Then, she covered the emerging art scene in the United Arab Emirates for seven years before “crash landing” back in the U.S. for health reasons, with her husband and young son.
Most recently, Danna pivoted to working for higher education clients and now does about 30% journalism, 70% higher ed.
About four years ago, Danna’s husband became really sick and they had to quickly leave their home in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, to move to the U.S. so he could get the treatment he needed. (He is now stable but with some lingering health issues.) Soon after, Danna discovered she had an autoimmune disorder.
All of this has led her to restart her freelance business five times. The current iteration, which she restarted after the pandemic affected her business, has been her most successful. In the past, she’s felt embarrassed to talk about the need to stop and start her freelance journey, especially with so many people sharing their successes on social media. But now, she’s very public about how her personal challenges have affected her business.
After landing an essay in The New York Times after the pandemic hit in 2020, she aimed for several more prestigious bylines to build a strong portfolio. Then, she used that to pivot to higher education. She used the articles she’d written about design, art and architecture as a “bridge” to focus on higher ed clients that have strong niches in those areas.
Danna shifted her mindset to thinking of herself as a business owner. She set values and goals for her business. Now she values finding recurring, reliable work and working with kind clients. She would like her work to be meaningful. And if it can’t be meaningful, it has to pay well.
Danna’s imposter syndrome is often high. She’s had a lot of challenges and taken adventurous leaps and says “when you live your life like that, it’s pretty hard not to sometimes question yourself and feel incompetent.”
Imposter syndrome as a freelancer pops up when people ask, “Oh, are you still writing?” as if it’s a hobby. Danna is also the mom of a young child and says people don’t take “mom businesses” as seriously.
She was also scared to share some of her personal challenges because she didn’t want to be seen as unreliable.
Danna also talks about needing to set boundaries, which she didn’t do in business much before having a child. Now, she sets boundaries as a mom, as an observant Jew and as someone managing an autoimmune disease. She recommends a “tech Sabbath” for everyone!
Biz Bite: Send Handwritten Thank You Notes
Episode #45 of Deliberate Freelancer: You Need to Set Boundaries
Episode #14 of Deliberate Freelancer: Freelancing with a Chronic Illness, with Christy Batta
Episode #67 of Deliberate Freelancer: How to Fight Imposter Syndrome, with Kristen Hicks
Writers’ Co-op podcast
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