Name: Lucy Ruthnum
University Degree: 2.1 BA Hons English Language and Communication with Eglish Literature
Career title: Journalist, freelance writer, travel blogger
Meet Lucy Ruthnum, award-winning travel blogger, who discovered her passion for writing and journalism when working at her local newspaper. Although she was passionate about her role, the pressure within the industry, inspired her to take a break, travel the world and start her career as a freelance writer.
Lucy Ruthnum is a pure example of a career girl who had her life planned out but wasn’t afraid to take a detour and discover her ‘new’ career path by taking risks.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself, your corporate career journey, and what inspired you to start a career as a Freelance Journalist?
A: When I went to university, I planned to come out a teacher, it was all I had wanted to do since I was a little girl, but in my final year of university everything changed. I realised teaching was not the job for me and started trying to gain as much writing/journalism experience as possible. I wrote for student publications such as Kettle Mag and This Festival Feeling (which I later became editor of) and went for work experience at More Magazine and my local newspaper.
A week of work experience at the newspaper and I walked away knowing exactly what I wanted to do, and with my first front page under my belt. The newspaper asked me to contribute a weekly column and when I graduated, I had my first job in journalism. Working at the newspaper for the next 4 years gave me so much experience learning on the job while the role also gave me room to grow and branch into website management, social media and marketing roles. It was during this time that I set up a travel and lifestyle blog which would later win an award and help me travel around the world. It was when I decided to go travelling that I decided to become freelance and I’ve spent the last three years of travel setting up my freelance business.
Q: What are some of the challenges you have experienced within the industry as a young female Journalist?
A: I feel very lucky that from the very beginning of my career as a journalist I have been judged purely on my talent as a writer and my skills. By getting my job through work experience, my employers have seen what I can do and were impressed from the beginning which really helped me to avoid the struggles of just qualified journalists. I don’t feel that I have been treated much differently due to my gender, but I have faced challenges.
My main one was definitely dealing with working in a company which was having financial difficulties because this later led to redundancies – journalism is a hard industry in this regard. Because while your job might be safe, as mine was because I was the junior, it does mean that you may be one of the few left behind to absorb the crazy workload. At our most pressured, I was doing the full-time workload of five members of staff in the time I should have been spending on my already large workload. It was intense and stressful, especially considering I was paid the least out of anyone in the office. I loved my job but in the end, the situation pushed me to quit for travel and to go freelance – best decision I ever made.
Q: In your opinion, what are some of the main skills every career girl should acquire to become a successful Freelancer?
A: There are no end of skills a freelancer should acquire. It’s a constant learning process and the more you know, the more you can charge and the more work/opportunities you will gain! My biggest recommendation – whether you are a writer or not, start a blog and build an online portfolio, set up social media profiles and get your name out there as a business. Teach yourself website management/design, social media, SEO, know how to manage money and sort your taxes, photography, build your contacts, research, I could go on. The list is endless. You basically need to have the attitude that you always need to know more, because if you don’t, along will come someone else who does and they could take your livelihood.
Q: You are also an award-winning travel blogger, which is an amazing achievement. What inspired you to embark on this ‘travel’ journey?
A: My travel journey started as a completely separate thing to my blog, and the blog just got taken along for the ride. I decided I wanted to travel the world solo, I booked flights to Asia and Australia, then the blog naturally changed to focus more on travel and charting my journey. I had only been writing about travel for six months but then my blog won highly commended in travel despite being the smallest blog among those nominated. It was a huge confidence boost and inspired me to push it even further. Since then I’ve travelled all over the world with it working with huge brands and companies, and it has continued to grow.
Q: On your travel blog, you encourage the idea of ‘solo travelling’. In which way does this concept (solo travelling) contribute to an individual’s life and career?
A: Solo travelling was genuinely the most important and valuable thing I have done in my life. The three years I spent travelling independently have completely changed me as a person, I’ve really grown into myself and have learnt so much along the way.
I’ve always been a confident and independent person, but since travelling solo and almost losing my life on more than one occasion, I really have a new respect and perspective on life. It gives you the time and space to really get to know yourself away from societal pressure, to follow your dreams and passions instead of a set career plan and makes you think outside the box. If I had stayed in the UK, I never would have approached freelance life in the way that I did – travelling gave me the inspiration to create a career out of thin air and to pursue a life that I wanted to live, instead of the one I ‘should’ have been living.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring career girls who are still a bit unsure about their career path (For example, some might hesitate on whether they should take a year out to travel the world, and others might want to take the step to become a ‘Freelancer’)
A: If you’re not 100% sure what you want to do in life, I would wholeheartedly encourage you to take time out. Whether you travel, study some more, follow a passion/hobby or try something new – there is nothing wrong with taking the time to decide. Everyone always feels so rushed and pressured to get that perfect career and family immediately instead of asking themselves if it’s what they really want!
For me, travelling was perfect because it helped me decide that although I love journalism, I didn’t want to be employed anymore, I liked the freedom and the money of freelance, plus I loved having more time for other projects such as my blog. For other people, an internship/apprenticeship might be the way to go, or they might fancy a complete change. The options are endless, but my best advice: follow your gut.