Name: Andi Satterlund
Major: English Literature
Current Location: Seattle, WA
Current Form of Employment: Self-employed Writer/Knitting Pattern Designer
Where do you work and what is your current position?
The short version is that I’m a self-employed writer who specializes in knitting patterns and knitting related content, but like many self-employed writers, my current job is cobbled together from bits and pieces. I’m both a small business owner and freelance writer. I run a knitting blog and self-publish and sell knitting patterns through my business. On the freelance side of things, I’m a regular contributor of knitting articles and patterns for a tutorial website, and I also write articles and patterns for various knitting magazines.
I originally began writing about knitting while I was in college, and I continued to do it on the side while working another job. Prior to being self-employed full-time, I worked as an associate editor at a small cake decorating magazine where I both wrote and edited content. I spent a lot of time editing cake decorating tutorials and working on web content. Although cake decorating wasn’t a craft I did myself, the writing skills I had developed in college and through writing knitting content were useful no matter the topic.
What did you do in college to prepare for your post-grad life?
My hobbies in college led me to my current career path. I started writing a knitting blog just for fun, and I developed a bit of a following. My readers were enthusiastic about my work and encouraged me to start submitting it to publications. I had my first pattern published by a yarn company my junior year of college, and it was so exciting to be paid to do something I loved. I continued to do it just for fun until my senior year when I began to worry about finding a job after graduating. I began running my website more professionally and started to try to make more professional connections through social media. I went from treating my blog like a hobby to treating it like a part-time job.
Tell us about how you found your first job, and how you found your current job (if different).
Like almost all of my jobs, I found my first freelance job by networking, and I suspect I got it through having my blog because it’s like a giant portfolio. I was a member of a message board for knitting pattern writers, and someone posted about a yarn company’s new program to work with up-and-coming designers. I didn’t think much of the original post, but one of my blog readers encouraged me to submit a proposal, so I gave it a try. On my blog I had simple patterns I had written before, and I included a link to them in my proposal, which I think helped convince the company to take a chance on me. Having a wide variety of writing on my blog has always come in handy.
What is your advice for students and graduates with an English degree?
Get experience while you’re still a student! Whether it’s an internship, working on a student paper, running a blog, or getting published— all of it is incredibly helpful when you’re trying to get hired. Your degree gets your foot in the door, but your experience is what gets you work, and it’s a lot easier to find the time and opportunities to get experience when you’re still a student.
My second bit of advice is for content creators looking to build a career online, and that is if someone is profiting from your work, you should, too. The “honor” of getting published by another website or company is not worth giving your work away for free. It can actually be damaging to your career because it’s hard to get rid of a reputation for working for free. It’s the 21st century, and you can get your work out there without a publisher, so don’t let someone take advantage of you. Your work has value. That’s why these places want to publish it. They’re just hoping you don’t recognize the value of your work, too.