My Working Life (and a big change!)

For the last two and a half years, about half of my work week has been devoted to writing articles for a Canadian Magazine called Fine Lifestyles. It’s a group of glossy publications distributed across Central and Eastern Canada (and two US cities) that features a mix of small businesses, travel and home design, with a leaning toward the luxury market — hence the ‘Fine’ in ‘Fine Lifestyles.

Since starting with the company in 2013, I’ve written somewhere around 230 articles, published in cities like Halifax, Winnipeg, Edmonton, Regina, Swift Current, Saskatoon and Santa Fe. It’s been a good gig. From my home office in Portland, I’ve been able to conduct all my interviews via skype, write the articles, communicate with my team of five editors, six other writers and a bunch of sales reps, and meet my weekly deadlines…with a schedule that’s fairly flexible, accommodating the freelance copywriting and editing I do for my own clients.

I’ve learned a lot. I’ve written a lot. I’ve created strong relationships with editors and developed my portfolio exponentially. And earlier this fall, I made the decision to move on.

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Editorial piece for The Royal Winnipeg Ballet. I interviewed the director.

You know when you’re ready to make a change, but instead of doing it, you find yourself waiting until the ‘right time’? That’s been me for the last several months. So a few weeks ago I decided the ‘right time’ to leave was…when I decided it was right.

I came to this decision for a few different reasons. These are the top 5:

1. My freelance business has been growing steadily since I started it three years ago and I’ve got wonderful clients in various industries that I work with on an ongoing basis, providing brand development, marketing strategy, copywriting and editing, promotional content and all kinds of word-savvy guidance. I love building these relationships, helping my clients succeed in their businesses and supporting them as they grow. It’s something I’m really passionate about, and I want to dedicate more of my energy to this part of my career.

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Profile on Saskatchewan musician Jeffery Straker.

2. I live in the amazingly creative and vibrant city of Portland, Oregon. But writing multiple articles each week for magazines that primarily focus on people, businesses and cities in another country left me feeling disconnected — from the work and from the place I live. That’s not to say I won’t continue working with international clients in my freelance business, but I also want to interview and write articles about people in Portland. I’ve lived here for three years, but as a writer working from home (in part for a Canadian company), I’ve felt like a bit of an outsider. And between the Fine Lifestyles gig and my freelance client work, I haven’t had a lot of writing juice left over to devote to local opportunities.

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Profile on Toronto fashion designer Matthew Gallagher

That said, in August I started writing for AboutFace, a Portland interview magazine. It’s been so refreshing getting to talk with and write about creative people who live and work here. I’ve got three interviews coming out in the fall issue (with three inspiring women who own local businesses) and have started working on my first assignment for the winter issue — a three-page feature on a local painter. This has led to opportunities to meet these people in person and tour their work spaces. (Rather than doing all my research online/behind a screen.) It’s been an excellent path to breaking into the local publishing industry and creative community, which I’m also very passionate about.

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Galapagos Islands travel editorial

3. While some of the work I did with Fine Lifestyles was editorial (such as the pieces I’m featuring photos of in this post) the bulk of it was advertorial. This means that clients pay to advertise in the magazine, with their ‘ads’ being written in the style of an article.

The process went like this: I’d get the assignment from the editor (who got it from a sales rep), contact the client to book an interview, research their business and prepare the interview, conduct the interview via a skype phone call, write the advertorial (usually 500-750 words), send it to the client for approval, make any changes they requested (which sometimes required chasing them down via phone and email to get their response), and upon getting final approval, submit it to the editor.

The deadline for turn-around time was six business days, and I always had several assignments on the go at once. I genuinely enjoyed some of the topics (design, wellness, entrepreneurs etc.), and gained the experience to write about almost any industry out there (Pet grooming! Smart technology! Home security!), but a lot of the assignments weren’t overly interesting to me. I started to feel a bit like an advertorial factory, pounding them out on my laptop. More and more, I found myself wondering, “Is this really what I want to spend my time writing about?” When the answer is ‘no’ often enough, it’s time to let go. (Hmm, maybe that’s a good mantra for life: When the answer is no, it’s time to let go…)

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Manitoba MudRun editorial

4. My blog is evolving. Over the last few months I’ve been getting a lot of requests for collaborations/interview features etc. from all kinds of people, particularly local Portlanders. While I am very choosy about the content I want to share here (and always will be), I love collaborating on interesting projects and am excited to see where these new opportunities could lead. Stay tuned!

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Luxury Kitchen feature…inspired by the kitchens of Gwyneth, Martha, and Nigella. This was fun to research.

5. I believe in spending what the wonderful writer Alexandra Franzen refers to as ‘life minutes’ wisely. How do I want to feel in my life every day? Connected, creative, joyful and purposeful come to mind. Was I feeling those things with the gig I’ve left behind? Sometimes. Not often. Not enough. I believe I will feel how I want to feel more with the new directions I’m taking.

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Feature editorial on how yoga benefits the mind

As most of you reading this know, Canada made a bold move on Monday and elected a new prime minister. My ears were glued to CBC all day and evening as the votes started rolling in, and when it was announced that our previous (awful) Prime Minister would no longer be in power, I felt truly inspired. (Despite my first choice not being the ‘winner’.) The country came together and took a massive step toward deeply-needed change. In his speech that night as Prime Minister-elect, Justin Trudeau said “In Canada, better is always possible.”

I think that’s true for people, too. In making this recent change, I’ve let go of something that was no longer contributing to how I want to feel and where I want to go. In its place is a lot of possibility…that’s already transforming into reality.


What about you guys? Anything you’ve said ‘goodbye’ to recently…or are considering letting go? Do you use the way you feel/want to feel as a guide for making decisions?

I would love to hear about your experiences, if you feel like sharing. (Your comments always help contribute to that feeling of connection that’s so important to me, so thank you.)

Happy Wednesday, friends. More soon!


p.s. Have a project that needs some writing or editing power? Learn about how to work with me here.


  1. Wow I couldn’t relate more!! I am also going through the biggest career change in my life it is terrifying and exciting and I can’t wait to do it! I’ve been away from home in vic doing training in Waco Tex. Life is throwing me every curve ball at this point its been difficult but for some reason good or bad things have been falling into place. I am not sure where I am going with this but ur post really hits home. Thank you for always sharing and thank you for being so great. I will always remember the short but awesome time we had in Portland as random as it was it’s one I look back on a lot! Cheers to you you and your new endeavour, I wish you all the happiness in the world!

  2. Taitly!!! Huge cyber hugs of congrats to you. You have so steadily been working at your dream(s) and its so inspiring to hear about this next move. It takes guts to make power moves and you, my lovely, have guts and grace. Can’t wait to read your work in About Face! xo pj

  3. So proud of you Courtney! moves are hard but you don’t grow until you push yourself out of your comfort zone. so excited to follow along in your new adventure!!! congratulations!

  4. Congratulations! I had a blog that I hadn’t updated in a year, and just let the domain expire. It’s bittersweet, but clearly, it wasn’t a priority anymore.

  5. Congratulations Courtney. I’m very proud of you. You will achieve great things by following your heart and passion. Much love. Auntie Nita

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