6 ‘Cool Mom’-Approved Nursery Trends

There’s a lot of unattractive nursery furniture and decor out there. At 29 weeks pregnant, let’s just say I’ve spent a good chunk of that time looking at baby gear, and I’ve seen a lot of banal stuff out there. It takes some digging (and avoiding big-box baby stores) to discover unique and whimsical items that will give your nursery a stylish, one-of-a-kind feel.

In my quest to create a nursery, I’ve taken it upon myself to find balance between cutesy baby stuff and adult-friendly decor. After much thought it occurred to me that I didn’t want to be sitting in a childish safari-themed room, and would much rather be spending my time (who am I joking … 24/7) in a room where I will be physically and emotionally comfortable. I know from mom friends how hard those first few months are on your body and mind, and I wanted to create a room that not only caters to all baby’s needs, but mine as well.

It’s important for me to create an environment that lifts my spirits and keeps me comfortable throughout the day while nursing and hanging with my girl. I know there are going to be really tough moments where I’ll be feeling anxious and frustrated, and being in a safe, comfortable space as a new mom is important. So, I’m in the process of creating a feminine room that is both child- and adult-friendly. It’s happy and whimsical — not overly girly and not too childish.

In my quest to find a mommy-baby balance in the nursery, I noticed some really cool decorative trends. Here are a few that I think are worth sharing.

  1. Llama Decor

Source: Anthropologie.

Llamas are the new unicorns, and thank god. You can’t toss a pacifier without hitting some unicorn-bedecked item in a kids’ store these days.

When quilt shopping for our little girl, I came across this kooky llama quilt (seen above, $98-$178) via Anthropologie. How fun! Anthro clearly is embracing this silly creature, as you’ll find llama decor throughout out their site — mobile ($56), pouf ($128), growth chart ($68), coin bank ($24), etc. Seriously, so much. If you troll their site, you’ll find llamas aplenty.

Etsy also has their share of llama items — llama crib sheet ($30), swaddle blanket ($37) and prints you can frame ($6).

2. Modern Cribs

Source: Pottery Barn Kids

Modern cribs with clean lines are all the rage. Pottery Barn Kids’ Modern Baby line includes beautiful cribs like the convertible Lolly crib (seen above, $399) by Babyletto, which I purchased for our nursery.  West Elm and Crate & Kids also carry some great contemporary styles by Babyletto, Stokke and DaVinci Baby.

If you are in the market for a bassinet, check out the SNOO Smart Sleeper ($1,295). We scored one on Black Friday when they were hugely discounted. The bassinets are supposed to be a total game changer with sleep training. And as someone who loves sleep, I’m willing to splurge here.

3. Handmade Mobiles

Source: Etsy.

While hunting for nursery decor, I came across so many precious handmade mobiles. This knit kitten mobile (seen above, $151) on Etsy caught my eye. I also love Serena & Lily’s felted elephants mobile ($148), along with this cloud and star mobile ($59) and minimal wood mobile ($39) on Etsy.

The Moms On Call Basic Baby Care book (which I highly recommend BTW) notes that babies learn by association, and therefore you shouldn’t hang mobiles over the crib. Babies need to associate the crib with sleep time, not playtime. So if you are going the mobile route, perhaps hang it over the changing table instead. It will make butt-wiping more enjoyable for all.

4. Boho Crib Skirts

Source: Serena & Lily.

Serena + Lily’s macrame crib skirt (seen above, $78) is so much fun! Can they please make this for grown-up beds?! Crate & Kids has a cool one decked out in navy pom-poms (on sale for $39.97 now!) and this linen skirt with fringe ($28) on Etsy would be fun for a more subdued natural-looking nursery. I’m a fan of Anthro’s dyed tassel skirt ($78), but I feel like you can create this look yourself for much cheaper.

Crib skirts obviously aren’t necessary (all you really need is a fitted crib sheet), but I think that if you find something special like the ones above, it’s totally worth gussying up baby’s bed.

5. House Beds

Source: Etsy.

I was pleasantly surprised to find such a large inventory of house beds on Etsy. I like this one (seen above, $245) for its sheer simplicity and affordability. (If you or your partner are handy, you can create one for a fraction of price though!) Resting on the ground, it’s toddler-friendly, so little ones can get in and out of bed easily.

Also, I’m a big fan of daybeds in the nursery. We got an IKEA daybed that pulls out into a queen for our baby’s room, so that my husband and I have a place to nap and relax while taking care of our girl.

6. Campy Themes

Source: Crate & Kids.

Crate & Kids has a bunch of cheeky themes that break the mold of traditional nurseries. For instance, this camper play tent (seen above, and now on sale for $169!) takes the whole forest theme to a new level. You can even complete your setup with a campfire and log set ($69), log seat ($59) and toy camping set ($59). How freakin’ adorable is that? I can’t even.

. . . 

T-minus 74 days until my due date, so I still have plenty of time to finish nesting and decorating the nursery. I’d love some decor tips and product recommendations! Thanks friends! xo, marissa

The tao of books: Stop styling them and just let them be

This post has been a long time coming. Because, well, I feel for books. They are sacred and have a special energy to them. They deserve to be acknowledged and showed off in ways in which we can use them and love them. (Yes, I’ve been watching Marie Kondo. Her Shinto ways have rubbed off on me.)

A few blog posts ago I wrote about god-awful design trends, and in that piece I listed “backwards books” as one of my decorative pet-peeves. Out of the five fads I listed, most readers reacted to this specific design trend — and clearly people were just as appalled as I was!

Since then, I’ve taken note of bad book styling fads that are happening via Instagram and lifestyle blogs. And you’d be surprised to find out that people are doing all sorts of silly things to display their tomes. Backwards paperbacks are just the tip of the iceberg. Looming under the surface is a behemoth of #shelfies that will give any bibliophile a heart attack.

With that said, I am forewarning you: the following images might send bookworms into a catatonic state. So prepare yourselves. Take a deep breath. Slam a beer. Take whatever measures you need to get yourself through this.

  1. Backwards Books

This is the image I posted on the blog that caused outrage among my bookie friends. Spines backwards with pages facing outward — total sacrilege.

2. Books In Fireplaces

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I am in disbelief about the controversy around books displayed backwards. I have seen a lot of comments that are cringeworthy across multiple accounts. 😞 Here’s my thought on that. If you want to display your books this way, do it! If you like to see the spines, show the spines. YOU do YOU. Most of these books were given to me by someone who planned to put them in a burn pile. But I saved them. I love showing the natural discolored & tattered pages. To me, I gave them a new purpose. New life. This arrangement of books may not be appealing to all, and that’s ok. This is the place I share my home decor, baking, and style. My passions. Again, YOU do YOU. This is just a friendly reminder to always be kind. The people behind these accounts are REAL people. ❤️ Hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend. Xo http://liketk.it/2zr6k #liketkit @liketoknow.it #LTKhome #sodomino #housebeautiful #bhghome #mystyle #homedecor #homeinspo #homeinteriors #popofcolor #swcolorlove #plantlady #inspire_me_home_decor #mydomaine #rslove #shiplap #shiplapwalls

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This one is a double-whammy. Not only are these books backwards but they are stored in a fireplace! You might as well just soak them in kerosene and call it a day.

3. Jenga Tower of Books

Consider this: You need the book at the bottom of that stack. Enough said.

4. Color-Coordinated Books

The rainbow book styling trend has been happening for maybe 8 years now, and I’m surprised it’s lingered this long. I can’t imagine hunting for a book in this colorfully chaotic situation. How are you supposed to find what you are looking for? For instance, on our bookshelves everything is organized by subject matter and author so we easily can find what we’re looking for.

Jane Austen should be hanging out with her compadres Daphne du Maurier and the Brontë sisters, because they are bad-ass British betches who wrote about love. Jane Austen shouldn’t be snuggled up next to depressing Leo Tolstoy just because they both have blue spines. What an asinine thought.

. . . 

As you can see, book styling is a very personal and polarizing topic. As an avid reader who lives in a  house where there are books in pretty much every room, I believe in just letting books be. You don’t need to create intricate sculptures out of them or start displaying them in odd places like your staircase or furnace just to be cool and trendy. Put them someplace nice and thoughtful where you can use them as God intended. Amen.

xo, marissa

Surprising 2019 Design Predictions

Courtesy of Muuto.

January signals new beginnings, and in the design world that means publications are putting out trend forecasts that predict everything from colors to decor. For the past month my inbox has been inundated with lifestyle e-newsletters telling me what’s new and hot for 2019, so I figured I’d do a little roundup of trends that piqued my interest, both positively and negatively.

Read ahead, and if you are a design pro — or an admirer like me — I’d love to hear your thoughts on this year’s trends.


>> Washington Post <<

The Washington Post chatted with Houzz’s editor for this year’s design forecast. The website’s predictions are based off of activity on their site and tips from industry experts. Houzz’s list hits on some pretty obvious trends that currently are happening, like dynamic backsplashes, moody colors,  dining benches and free-standing tubs. I got excited when I saw  “tuxedo kitchens” on the list and then after reading further, realized that it’s just a fancy way of referring to kitchens with black cabinets and white decorative details. Hasn’t this been happening for a while? I think this look is more timeless than trendy. Hence referring to the style as a classic ensemble like the “tuxedo.”

I also was surprised to see “four-wall accent color” on the list. What could this possibly be, I pondered. “Instead of a bold-colored feature wall, homeowners are opting to paint all the walls,” writes the author of the story. I hate to break it to ya, Houzz, but painting all the walls in a room is not a trend. It’s a standard practice that’s been happening for eons.

>> Lonny <<

Lonny published a trend roundup based off of Pinterest’s top home trends report, which was an interesting angle to take on. After all, Pinterest gives you a good look at what all the stay-at-home moms and lifestyle bloggers are interested in. The list includes bold wallpapers, cactus arrangements  and geometric paint — all decorative elements that make me think of a millennial lifestyle influencer’s Instagram feed. Things I found exciting were mustard yellow, natural swimming pools (my inner Floridian approves!) and textile art.

>> Domino <<

While Domino wrote a similar story to Lonny based off the same Pinterest report (can anyone say press release?), they also published a series of in-depth posts on specific trends for 2019. These include curvaceous coffee table, plywood, European-inspired kitchens,  and a popular seat called the Jeanneret chair.

Ahead of the gang, Domino also published a story back in September on trends to watch for this year based off of attending big international design shows. Predictions include sustainability (dramatic eye-roll), high-end Scandinavian furnishings (think Muuto, not IKEA) and ’70s-inspired hues like orange and yellow.

>> Remodelista <<

Remodelista had the most peculiar and thought-provoking roundup of trends for 2019, ranging from fringe-skirted lounge chairs to oversized pendant lamps. I appreciated how specific the editors were with decor. Some peculiar trends though made me take a double-take, namely handmade soap dishes and quirky rattan lamps. Say what?!

>> House Beautiful <<

House Beautiful broke down their design roundup by subject matter. Bathroom trends to watch for are concrete, unique mirrors and industrial-inspired hardware. In the kitchen, the forecast includes matte black (there’s that tuxedo kitchen again!), stonework and beadboard. And color-wise look out for muted pastels, terra cotta and mushroom (AKA gross beige — which is hard for me to believe).

. . .

I have some fun posts planned for the future. Since I’ve been busy nesting and preparing for the arrival of our baby, I think it would be fun to write a post about nursery decor trends. There’s some cool stuff out there!

I also have a post in the works against book styling. Quite a few people reacted via Facebook to my last blog post, specifically calling out how outrageous the backwards books trend is. I’m going to take all that energy and run with it, because you won’t believe the crazy ways in which people are styling their books.

I’d love to hear what you are interested in reading about! xo, marissa

Stop trying to make fetch happen: 5 design trends that need to stop now

As I mentioned in my inaugural 2019 blog post, I’m going to start using this blog as a counterpoint to other lifestyle publications out there. So with that said, we are just going to dive in, okay? Because I can’t wait to get started.

With most design sites talking about the top trends to expect in the new year, I’d like to take some time to discuss current design crazes that are actually crazy. Out of all the interior blunders out there, I decided to mention five prevalent fads that I think aren’t visually appealing and don’t work functionally.


This post originally was inspired by the above image, which kept popping up in my Instagram feed. After feeling personally victimized by this image (just kidding, but not really), I started noticing other “color blocking” images on social media. After seeing around five of these photos in one week, it occurred to me that this is actually happening: people are painting half their walls (trim, doors and all!) one color and then the other half another color. How disorienting and silly.

It looks like the point where the vanilla meets chocolate in a carton of Neapolitan ice cream. Is there a strip of strawberry pink at the top of the wall, I wonder?

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STILL ORCing my butt off! What are you guys up to this weekend? You already know where I’ll be … 👷🏼‍♀️🛠✨⁣ ⁣ Gotta run!!! ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ Image via @wendyswansonphotography⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #oneroomchallenge⁣ #mypinterest⁣ #doingneutralright⁣ #pinkinmyfeed⁣ #boholuxe⁣ #lovewhereyoudwell⁣ #apartmenttherapy⁣ #ownyourhome⁣ #mybohoabode⁣ #interieurinspiratie⁣ #dslooking⁣ #hometohave⁣ #ambularinteriorsaintgotnothingonme⁣ #interior_and_home⁣ #smpliving⁣ #homeinterioruk⁣ #homedesignideas⁣ #mynordicroom⁣ #easyinterieur⁣ #rshome⁣ #breinspired⁣ #mydecorvibe⁣ #sunsetmag⁣ #myhometrend⁣ #originmagazine⁣ #diynetwork⁣ #liketkit ⁣ #LTKhome ⁣ ⁣ Shop your screenshot of this pic with the LIKEtoKNOW.it app. http://liketk.it/2y2V8 @liketoknow.it @liketoknow.it.home

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What I want to know is: how long is this trend going to last? If it is short-lived, do homeowners really want to be repainting their walls again in the next year or two? It doesn’t seem like something that is here to stay.

I welcome interior designers to intelligently comment on why this doesn’t work visually, because my ice cream simile is far from profound.


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The art above the bed is a metal mesh embroidered piece that I did a while back, but I’m thinking of doing a Queen torn handmade paper collage. What do you think? Yay or nah?❤️❤️❤️~ . . And in other news, did you catch the live story from @zigzagstudiodesign that we just did? She announced the winner of the giveaway that she sponsored for me! She saved the live story, but spoiler alert… it’s @whynotknot ❤️❤️❤️ congratulations! It was so much fun having @zigzagstudiodesign host this for me! It was SO much fun that I hope to do another hosted giveaway in the future!! ~ . . . . . #sunsetmag #myoklstyle #apartmenttherapy #roomhints #sodomino #inmydomaine #mydomaine #ispyraddesign #homewithrue #handmademodernhome #midcenturyboho #myserie7 #sorealhomes #realliving #omysa #prettylittleinteriors #thenewbohemians #adoremagazine #rugmadetheroom #stellarspaces #homesohard

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Now this is just bananas. Why on earth would you drape a rug that you walk on over your bed, a place where you rest your head? Reasons you shouldn’t do this at home: 1.) Health-wise, this isn’t hygienic. This is me assuming the rug has been walked upon at some point in its existence. 2.) Functionally, it’s difficult to snuggle under a stiff rug. Nobody can get tucked in properly like that!

Maybe I’m missing something though: it looks like this look is cat-approved.


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Lodge life. #touristswelcome 📷: @nicole_franzen

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I guess you could call this look avant-garde? This Berkshire Mountain lodge embraces a crude look with exposed cider blocks, unfinished walls and boarded-up windows. While I do enjoy raw elements like untreated wood, this goes a little too far for me. Rather than a relaxing retreat this space looks like a room where a bunch of angsty teens might hole up for a night of binge-drinking and chain-smoking.

Villa Moelven, a beach house located outside of Stockholm along Sweden’s coast, is another example of this trend. This space appears a little more “finished,” but the abundance of raw wood still seems excessive and aggressive to me.


First off, I think it’s really hard to achieve a good-looking all-white space that is clean and sophisticated. You must have a great eye for design. You also have to employ lots of texture, play with dimension and consider proper lighting.

To me though, most all-white spaces read as cold and clinical, sterile environments that are void of warmth. I’ve noticed that most minimalists choose this monochromatic scheme. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: you can still be a minimalist and embrace pigment. As Nathan Lane so famously says in “The Birdcage,” “One does need a hint of color.”

Maybe I should write a blog post dedicated to nailing an all-white space. Thoughts?


I saved the “best” for last. As a bibliophile and lover of words, this design trend might just be the bane of my existence — storing books backwards, pages facing outward. It’s pure lunacy.

Functionally, it doesn’t make sense. I mean how on earth are you supposed to find that Jane Austen novel? There goes an hour of your day just searching for one little book. Aesthetically it looks bizarre. Your friends are going to think you lost your mind.

If you are embracing this trend at home, I warn you against taking any Instagram #shelfies. Last year Apartment Therapy posted an image on their Instagram account of a shelf filled with backwards books and there was a huge public outcry. (Does anyone else remember this?!) Fervent readers left hundreds of comments, and I found myself falling down a social media rabbit hole reading everyone’s sentiments. My favorite commenter suggested that it looked like whale baleen. She wasn’t wrong.

Thanks for taking the time to read my first design post. This piece took on a more feisty tone than usual since it was a critique. But know that in the future you can expect to find posts written in an array of voices as I take on different attitudes. In response to this post, I’d love to hear your thoughts on these fads or even current crazes you wish would disappear. Many thanks, marissa

What to expect from this blog in 2019


Hi Friends + Fam,

For years I wanted to launch a lifestyle blog. So in 2016 I purchased a URL, came up with a cute name (HappyHyggeHome), and then for the next two years I pondered branding, content, design, etc. After years of doing nothing, I finally realized I lacked the vision and confidence to get it off the ground. So, I deleted the URL and moved on.

But after saying goodbye to my nonexistant website, I still felt a longing to create a place online where I could jot down all the ideas that are confined to my head. The other evening when I was tossing and turning with my pregnancy insomnia and general discomfort, I experienced an inward eye moment. It occurred to me that 1.) I can write about whatever I want to without all the hoopla of fancy branding; 2.) I already have a blog (this one!) where my thoughts can live; and 3.) I can be my authentic self right here. What an amazing, freeing realization. I suddenly couldn’t sleep because I was excited!

So rather than creating a “branded” lifestyle site, what will I be doing with this here blog? The thoughts on this blog will be a reaction and counterpoint to millennial lifestyle websites that exist today, specifically in regard to home design and style, which is where my head and pen have been at for the past few years.

Recently I’ve noticed professional publications dumbing down their content for the 20- and 30-some audience. As a millienial who works in the realm of lifestyle publishing, I’m personally insulted by this. Current shelter publications assume its younger readers don’t know chevron from herringbone and modern from contemporary.  Ahem, we do. Those of us who are passionate and curious about design don’t want our content to be diluted. We don’t want blog posts and stories that read like “Lifestyle for Dummies.” We want the real deal: smart stories about inspired design.

I’ve also noticed that shelter publications catering to the millennial crowd aren’t cherry-picking spaces that are worthy of being showcased. Instead I find myself staring at homes that lack in taste and personality, and instead are carbon copies of the same tired, unoriginal trends that exist on every other blog.

With that said, here are a few thoughts on topics I’d like to address on the blog in the near future:

-stop trying to make fetch happen: 5 design trends that need to stop now
-the tao of books: stop styling them and just let them be
-an argument against IKEA hacks

I’m also giving myself room to write about whatever the heck I want to, beause this is my blog and I do what I want. So blog posts also may be about recipes, vacations, cats … who knows! Basically, you can expect to find any lifestyle topic that I already professionally write about (architecture + interiors, arts + culture, food + drink, travel, weddings, etc.) on the blog.

What do you think current lifestyle websites lack that you’d like to see here? Let me know. I’d love to hear.

Happy New Year! xo, marissa 

6 ways to market yourself as a freelance writer

It’s hard to find the time to market yourself when you’re busy writing. The more prolific and successful you are, the less time you have to update your website, push your stories out via social media, and network with colleagues at industry events. But, if you carve out a little time in your routine every day (30 minutes tops), your efforts will go a long way.

As a freelancer who is stuck working from home, here are a few things I’ve made a point to do over the years to help market myself:

1. Put your stories out there. Update your social media with your stories as they are published. With time management in mind, I say “as they are published” so that you don’t sit down one day at your computer and have 20 stories that need to be tweeted out. By constantly adding to all your channels (I’m talking all channels — Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) you are increasing your clout and letting people know that you are creatively rich and busy doing your job.

2. School yourself. Over the years I have both attended and taught workshops. It’s good to attend writing classes to help fine-tune your writing, sharpen your editing skills, hear your words read aloud and open yourself up to criticism. If you have the knowledge and experience, teaching writing also is rewarding because mentoring and educating is important for the greater community.

3. Join committees and boards. Make connections with folks in the community by joining committees and boards. Here in Richmond, I’ve made all sorts of great contacts through serving on Faison Center’s junior board and The Visual Arts Center of Richmond’s Craft + Design Committee. The people you meet through other organizations will remember you when they need help with communications, or they might refer you to a friend in need.

4. Keep your portfolio up to date. Back in the day I used to update this WordPress site with every single story I wrote. What a waste of time! Last year a friend turned me on to Contently, an online portfolio that is extremely user-friendly. Just like Pinterest, you copy and paste a web link onto the site and it automatically generates a headline, dek and photo. Rather than wasting time creating a blog post about the stories I write, I now take five minutes each day to upload story links onto my portfolio.

5. Be the conversation. Post relevant content about your industry on LinkedIn. Tweet your reaction to a story on Twitter. Write posts relating to your field and expertise on your blog. As a writer you need to be an active participant in your field, so walk the walk and talk the talk.

6. Do a good job. You could have 10,000 Twitter followers and a killer online portfolio, but honestly, the best marketing is having a good reputation among your colleagues. Recently I’ve gotten some awesome new gigs because editors have passed along my contact to colleagues who were in need of writing and editing help. An editor saying “This writer does a good work” goes a long way. So do a good job. Be nice. And karma will bring you good fortune.

What are your marketing tips? Would love to hear them! Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Best, Marissa

Female Freelancer: Writer Sarah Howlett gives the 411 on trade publications

As a remote writer, I connect with all sorts of talented freelancers through the interwebs. Recently Boulder, Colorado journalist Sarah Protzman Howlett and I found one another and connected over our mutual love of writing and Colorado. While Sarah does a variety of editorial work from writing to copy editing, I wanted to focus this week’s Q&A on one of her specialities — writing for trade publications. Trade publications are a different beast than consumer publications, so I figured this would be a nice opportunity for Sarah give us a little background on the trade pub world.

Publications you’ve worked with: WWD, Oprah, Prevention, 5280, 5280 Health, 5280 Home, Colorado Health & Wellness, and a slew of trade magazines you’ve never heard of.

1. Tell us about your journalism background. How did you get your start in the industry?

After I graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism, my first job was on the copy desk at The Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction, Colorado. After 18 months, I took over for the arts and entertainment reporter, where I covered music and theater, and appeared on TV, radio, a web series, and wrote a column about being single in a small town.

After a few years, I got the New York City bug and, once there, caught a lucky break with an assistant job at a men’s fashion trade that folded in 2008. Unbeknownst to me, my boss was aware we were going under and had already put me up for a job on the copy desk at Women’s Wear Daily (WWD). It was an awfully sad time in journalism, seeing so many colleagues and friends laid off who, frankly, were a lot more talented than I. I worked at WWD until moving to Denver in 2010. 

2. How and when did you launch your freelance career?

I freelanced on the side when I lived in Manhattan, often covering home décor and Broadway theater for a free publication called New York Resident. (I think I answered a Craigslist ad to get that gig and was maybe able to pay my utilities with what I earned, but it was sorely needed extra cash!)

In 2010 my then-fiancé, now husband and I felt ready to move on from NYC and move to Denver, near my family. We wanted kids in a few years’ time, so I built up a roster of freelance clients with the idea that I’d be established after a year or so and work part-time once I was a mother. Our twins were born in 2013, and it has been a privilege to have the flexibility that comes with working for myself.

3. It sounds like a bulk of your work and income comes from trade publications. What are trade publications and how did you segue into that world?

It was a total accident. I wrote a piece for a trade magazine in the pool and spa industry to help out a friend who was on its staff at the time. When it ended up losing its associate editor some time later, they called me. I have had that job, working remote, since 2010 and they’ve been very good to me. 

4. What kind of subject matter do you write about for trade publications?

I often write trend reports (for instance, new technologies gym owners might consider to boost membership) or profiles on small-business owners. I love talking to anyone who is passionate about what they do; it gets me really interested right away, regardless of whether I’ve never heard of the thing they’re talking about until I started the story!

5. How is working with trade publications different from working with consumer publications?

Instead of, say, a magazine like Shape, which anyone interested in fitness would read, trades are speciality publications for those who make their living in the business of fitness. Where Shape writes about how to flatten your abs, a fitness trade publication might write a feature on the latest fitness equipment, and whether owners/operators who have upgraded have found it worth the investment.

6. Do you have to pitch trade publications the same way you’d pitch a consumer publication? 

No. Most trade editors assign to experienced writers who are capable of learning on their feet. They don’t expect most of their freelancers to have the highly specific knowledge about their given industries, so they’ll often help you with sources and industry terminology. I’ve certainly pitched to trades once I’m familiar with an industry’s trends and pressing issues. When I’m interested in writing for a new one, I send an email introducing myself. There are some great LOI (letter of introduction) templates on freelancer websites.

7. What kind of advice do you have for writers who want to work with trade publications? Where can they find trade publications to scope out their content?

Advice: Always focus on your hourly pay and not the per-word. Signing a contract for $2/word feels awesome, but when you’re eight months into reporting and on your sixth revision with your third editor, the hourly can end up pretty bad. (Don’t get me wrong: If you sell a pitch to a huge mag when you’re just starting out, definitely do it. A great clip is a great clip.)

Most trades I’ve written for pay anywhere from $.25 to $1/word, and I’m able to pull in about as much in 10 hours a week as I did as a full-time reporter right out of college. Trades’ lead times are much shorter and their staffs smaller, so there are fewer revisions, you get paid faster, and you can access sources easily because they’re eager to talk up the industry they love (or at least from which they earn a living). Googling “trade pubs for the ____ industry” will yield all the results you need. 

8. Other than trade publications, what other kind of writing and work do you do editorially?

I still copy edit a lot. So many newspapers have slashed their copy desks — and you can tell, believe me — but I have copy edited everything from museum newsletters to cookbooks. The skill is highly transferable from my newspaper days and still so valuable. There are innumerable highly intelligent people, experts in their field, who struggle mightily to write a clear, concise sentence that’s correctly punctuated.

9. How do you keep yourself abreast of trends in the ever-evolving media industry? 

I read a ton of news and probably too many think pieces about the industry. I don’t consider myself a blindly optimistic person, but I believe to my toes that collectively, we know we benefit from helpful, honest reporting, and that it’s not going anywhere.

10. What are some of your favorite tools as a journalist? 

I really like Grammar Girl for those obscure rules I can never seen to remember! And I will always love the AP Stylebook.

11. What kind of things do you do creatively to help yourself unwind?

I love to sew and refinish small pieces of furniture, and I’m constantly tweaking our home’s interior. 

Connect with Sarah through her website, Instagram and LinkedIn.