#002 – How Ann Friedman built a career as an independent journalist

Click here to listen to Episode 2 of The Substack Podcast


If you’re looking for examples of writers who have earned their independence, you’d be hard pressed to find better than Ann Friedman. In fact, Ann hasn’t just earned her independence—she has built it.

For this episode of the podcast, I spoke to Ann about how she has crafted a journalism career on her own terms, combining freelance writing for major national outlets with a weekly newsletter and Call Your Girlfriend, a podcast she co-hosts with Aminatou Sow.

We discussed how, in her 20s, she scored a dream job as editor-in-chief of GOOD magazine, only to see it fall to pieces when the company’s owners—young startup founders with inherited wealth—decided that the magazine business couldn’t scale fast enough to meet their goals. It was a culture clash of the highest order, Ann says.

“For anyone who is impatient, for people with a lot of money, and without a lot of experience in the hard, slow work of building something, the kind of short attention span factor of extreme wealth plus a tech mentality of ‘You’ve got to be growing exponentially at all times otherwise it’s not a success’ is a formula for a lot of frustration.”

Ann also talked about why independence matters to her, why it’s okay to ask people to share your work with others, and why she’s considering updating her website with a “douchey tech label” like ‘serial media entrepreneur.’

“What everyone tells you about how hard it is to make a career as a freelancer is true,” Ann says, “but I also think it’s easier if you see yourself as a business and are investing in things that you own.”

I enjoyed the conversation and hope you will too.

– Hamish

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