I’ve been freelancing for over a decade now. While it feels like a long time, it equally feels like a blur of events, achievements, and tons of busy days. In 2011, I started covering films, then moved into electronic music. In 2017, I parlayed my years-long love of getting high into freelance weed reporting, interviews, and other news endeavors. Along the way, I added freelance copywriting to help cover the bills and stretch my creative muscles.
Freelancing in weed and beyond has been a wild ride, one I’m glad to still be on despite its hardships. To keep up, my typical daily routine has evolved numerous times.
Routines Change. Goals Stay the Same.
No matter the circumstances, every day I do my best to learn about my subject and convey it to my audience through news outlets, brands, or self-published content. When I was younger, I embodied the more classic journo approach, leaning into the breaking news model in particular. I woke early, hitting the news cycles—weed-specific and general news outlets—to find all the information on weed laws, business, culture, or otherwise. For additional perspectives, I turned to social media, in-person meetups, and industry events to get a pulse on the local and larger markets.
The pandemic necessitated a swift adaptation in my fact-finding, shifting from in-person interactions to more digital news gathering using popular news outlets, social media, online presentations, etc. I also relied on online introductions and cold outreach, via email and social media. After dealing with job insecurity in the early pandemic days, I began to do more copywriting to afford living in New York City. The move alleviated my financial worries associated with a journalism career. Around this time, I began to wake up later and steer clear of breaking news and the associated rush to drop the news first on social media. Kudos to those that do this, as it is an important role. But I find that type of work equally appealing as seeing a family member naked. Instead, I like using each day to plot, prep, and execute on days—or weeks—long brewing topics.
Anyone open to splitting time in news and copy should be aware: The increased workload does make writing much more intensive and time-consuming each day. Between writing, researching, outreach, and content creation, I was easily pulling 16 hour days for several days or weeks at a time. This hustle-culture approach may be the norm for some, and if that suits you, by all means, enjoy it. But that saying about all work and no play didn’t make me a dull boy; it made me a shit writer. I took on more than I could chew at times, resulting in a few subpar first drafts and even the occasional sent-back story. If you want to keep a good reputation in writing, avoid doing this. Still, I am proud of many projects during this period, notably Most Affected, a High Times series profiling individuals and families impacted by the ongoing drug war. Long-story short, don’t take on more than you can realistically pull off, even if the money is alluring.
On a lesser note, this era reminded me of the importance of the occasional morning bathroom hotbox sesh. It may sound reckless to productivity, but those tweaks reminded me of the importance of having fun during the day and how it can spark joy and creativity in even the darkest times.
My Work Today
Today, I continue to work a more relaxed beat. I find this approach allows me to get the rest I need and attack my articles and tasks at a pace suited to me. Each day is still packed, and I can easily pull 12-hour days if I push myself. But I consciously do my best to avoid overworking and possible burnout, even if that comes at the detriment of my career or standing in the industry.
This approach allows me to give my all to my work each day, no matter the assignment or task. I still have down days production-wise, but by managing my Google Calendar effectively, I’ve been able to largely stay on track, satisfy clients, and create work I’m proud of. While I still often take on a workload that is almost over max capacity, I manage it better and know when to say “no” to projects, regardless of the payday.
Each day, I gather my pitches, sources, and news online. I regularly speak with sources in media, politics, business, the general public, and elsewhere for leads and information. I read the news, gathering intel from weed media and general news. I rely significantly less on social media for news and just about anything other than a rush of dread to the system.
Interviewing is still my favorite thing to do. I wish I had more time each day but have to be mindful of my time, keeping aware of deadlines and other time-intensive tasks. Still, I can’t turn down a good conversation. For a recent High Times piece, I spent several weeks speaking to pot-consuming parents about weed and their kids. Once I have the details I need, I begin writing the article with a goal of wrapping up a draft in a day if possible. I’m a type-A personality if you haven’t caught on yet. I then edit the article and send it to my editors for review.
All the while, I’m researching new article topics, crossing off other business related tasks, and addressing personal life needs. I still make ends meet working in branding and copywriting, which makes me split my time between news and content marketing. As such, my byline appears less frequently than it did a few years ago. I wouldn’t say I like putting out less news, but after averaging 20-plus stories a month from 2019 to 2022, I’m content with taking my foot off that gas for a while.
The last few years have been 100% focused on weed. But with weed outlets shrinking and mainstream outlets hiring other writers, I’m looking beyond the plant for clients and publications. To garner some attention, I’ve recently turned to YouTube, where I’m trying out alternative creative news reporting through interviews, shorts, and long-form content.
The days are often a jumbled blur, but it’s an organized chaos that allows me to stay up on the news while covering some of the more pressing topics in and around weed.
The Unique Evolution Never Stops
Coupled with the ongoing juggling tasks that include story production, interviews, finding new gigs, industry events, chasing down late payments, panels, pitching future stories, etc., freelance journos face a challenging daily list of to-dos. But, the rewards are no doubt sweet.
Every canceled assignment.
Every rescheduled interview.
Every boof weed sample sent my way.
Every time I grind myself down to a stress migraine.
Every time I get called a shill by a rando on social media.
Every time a cannabis industry leader posts how “weed media is dead,” only for them to pitch themselves for a feature.
I’d do it all many times more. I’ve been to incredible places, interviewed countless interesting subjects, sampled stellar products, and met many amazing people—and it continues to happen all thanks to covering weed and other interesting topics I love.
But it isn’t about me. It’s about having the opportunity to inform the public about the ongoing evolution of weed law, politics, business, culture and so much more. To keep up, writers, freelance or staff, will always evolve so we can effectively and accurately tell the stories that need to be told. If the end result remains, the daily motions can continue to change as needed.