Meet Carli Philips, an Australian freelance writer covering travel, fashion, design, lifestyle, and interiors both locally and internationally. Carli’s work has appeared in a range of impressive publications including Elle Decoration, Grazia, Harper’s Bazaar, Business of Fashion, Belle, Inside Out, Monocle, The Australian and Wish.
To learn more about how freelancing works, we caught up with Carli to hear her story and find out how to best pitch freelance writers.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a journalist?
Initially I studied architecture but quickly realised it wasn’t for me so switched to a Media and Communications course. I had always been obsessed with magazines and my hope was that I would get a job in the industry. I interned at a few publications and the newspaper where I wrote in exchange for bylines. I also worked in PR for bit which gave me great insight to what it was like on the ‘other side.’ I travelled extensively and made invaluable contacts that often led to some great freelance writing gigs.
Many people don’t understand the role of a freelance writer. Can you tell us how you work with various titles?
As a freelancer, I am not really bound by working for one title or company which means I have the freedom to write for various publications.
I write across premium design, fashion, travel, homes, and lifestyle but my angle and tone of voice is tailored depending on where the story is being published. I have long-standing relationships with most of the magazines I write for, so I am either commissioned to write a piece or I pitch an idea directly. I am also the Melbourne contributing editor of Belle, a role – and magazine – that I love.
I also do some copywriting on a project basis.
Can you tell us about your typical day?
Without fail, I go for an early walk to get a coffee while listening to a podcast. I work my own hours from home which can be both a blessing and a curse. I get distracted easily and like to work in complete silence.
Some days (pre-Covid) I’d be on a house shoot, recce or interviewing someone in person. Other days, I am writing or researching. I try to do a yoga evening class and always read a book before bed.
“I am interested in hearing about brands doing new and innovative things, or heritage brands working on collaborations. When I’m sent pitches, it’s great to see supporting images and a compact press release.”
What are the most challenging and rewarding parts of your job?
Freelancing means that work ebbs and flows which can be tough. Commissioning budgets are getting tighter by the day which can be really challenging as a freelancer. This means that my pitches and content need to be really relevant and oftentimes exclusive for my editors to give it the green light. But it’s always really rewarding to see a feature story in print. I’m old school and still love getting a hard copy magazine from the newsagent!
What makes a brand stand out to you? Do you prefer to be pitched or do you like to ‘discover’ brands yourself?
I am interested in hearing about brands doing new and innovative things, or heritage brands working on collaborations. When I’m sent pitches, it’s great to see supporting images and a compact press release.
But I really love discovering brands and personalities myself – especially when they are media shy or keep a low profile. I’m based in Melbourne so sometimes we get forgotten with the print titles largely based in Sydney. There are so many treasures down here so I love to support the local design community. I also like to keep tuned in to Aussie’s doing incredible things internationally.
I rely heavily on Instagram and guzzle all the lifestyle sections and supplements of the big US and UK newspapers and magazines.
What makes the ‘perfect pitch email’ in your opinion? Can you share any details about your role/writing that would be helpful for publicists pitching you personally?
Keep pitches tailored to the topics and titles a journo writes for. As I write in the luxury space, a certain level or exclusivity for a feature story helps. An Australian brand/personality gaining traction internationally always piques my interest too.
I often get asked whether something has run which can be frustrating – if you’ve pitched it, you should be across it.
How do you use Flaunter and why do you think it is a great industry resource?
I don’t have access to a photography studio so easily accessible, good quality shots available without emails back and forth between PRs is invaluable.