This is the time of year when we think about setting goals for the upcoming 12 months, and what we’ve achieved over the previous ones.
As a freelance, you’re constantly on the lookout for new work opportunities. Since I’m based in Southern Spain, many of my clients are also located in Andalucia, with products and services such as property, food, wine, travel and tourism, and hotels. So far so good; but it’s not just about the right topic – the economic side is important too. Therefore looking for work further afield, where pay is more generous, is another part of being an expat writer.
In my case, my proudest achievement in 2016 is writing for several new high-profile clients. This is in addition to translation, proof-reading, editing and copywriting work, plus being a city guide, as well as more articles for the multi-award-winning Sunday Times Travel Magazine, along with my long-standing role as Consulting Editor at Andalucia.com.
As my blogging during 2016 was sporadic at best, I will also mention interesting places I visited, but haven’t had a chance to write about yet.
I was approached – via LinkedIn (if you’re not listed on this professional networking site already, you should be) and also recommended by a respected Spain specialist writer (thanks Annie) to contribute to a new Google app, Google Trips. This was done via an agency called EnVeritas, providing a city guide to Seville in collaboration with fellow blogger Mary Biles. After very positive feedback on my participation from the project editor, and a strict confidentiality agreement which meant keeping schtum for months, it was exciting to see the app launch in September.
Towards the end of the year, an editor from LP got in touch to ask if I wanted to work on a project about Seville. A no-brainer when it’s such a respected and well-established publisher of travel guides. First article? Top 10 ice-cream shops in the city, which involved plenty of tastings, sometimes enthusiastically helped by my helado-phile daughter. I’ll be updating their Seville pages over the next few months, so keen an eye out!
I’ve already written for the Telegraph, but now I’m writing reviews for their hotel section, Hotelegraph. The most memorable of these was the brand new Mercer Seville, a super-stylish five-star palace hotel which I was the first journalist to stay at and review, thanks to building a relationship with the PR company in New York. Welcoming and elegant, the Mercer hits a new groove in Seville with its chic furniture and sumptuous décor – every piece is from a top European design house – and rooms with all the latest mod cons including Nespresso machines and shower toilets. Plenty more hotels lined up around Andalucia for this year.
Major Spanish olive oil producer
Without revealing its name, as requested by the agency involved, I am the UK Social Media Manager of a Spanish olive oil company which started selling its products in the UK last year. Working for a Spanish media agency, with all communications in Spanish, is a first for me, and has presented its own challenges. I am used to talking and writing in Spanish, but this is another level and it is pushing me, which is a good thing, obviously!
I’ve found it rewarding and interesting to explain about Guy Fawkes night and Pancake Day to astonished Andalucians. And it’s also inspired me to go into the kitchen more willingly (sometimes), to try some of the tips and recipes featured.
I also visited a number of places which still have to be blogged about although I’ve written about some in magazines, and all have appeared on my Social Media channels.
This vast Moorish citadel on a hill above the eastern port city from various periods is still being excavated by archaeologists. It was used as a location for Game of Thrones series six.
Beautifully restored medieval castle in a small riverside town near Cordoba, which will also be seen in upcoming episodes of Game of Thrones.
Alcazaba de Alcalá de Guadaira
Fabrica de Artillería
Old ammunition factory in Seville – being restored for visits – cannons used all over the Spanish Empire were made here.
Monasterio de Tentudia
I did manage to blog about this extraordinary place in Badajoz, Extremadura, the region north of Andalucia. Read about it here.
Palacio de las Dueñas
The late Duquesa de Alba’s palace in Seville, full of fascinating memoirs of this iconic figure. Read more here.
What about goals for 2017?
Yet again, do a digital photography course; see more of Andalucia, especially Medina Sidonia (Cadiz), Medina Azahara (Cordoba), and Las Alpujarras (Granada/Almeria); visit some gourmet fish restaurants – Acanthum in Huelva, and Aponiente in El Puerto de Santa Maria.
Yet again, blog more often, especially about our menagerie of animals. Current count 13: 5 cats, 2 dogs, 2 fish, 1 lovebird, 1 gerbil and one donkey.
On a personal level, I want to (finally) master meditation, something I first tried nearly 30 years ago in a Buddhist monastery in Dharamsala, and most recently as part of a mindfulness course last year. But I don’t have the mental discipline, so I’m working on that.
According to WordPress, this is my 200th post, so here’s to the next 200, and a happy, healthy and peaceful 2017!
If you want to check out what’s going on in Seville, look at my Scribbler in Seville Facebook page.