From Teacher to Freelancer: Guest Interview with Heather Hummel


Today on the blog - Heather Hummel, Founder and Creative Director of PathBinder Publishing. Heather shares with us her journey from teacher to freelancer, as well as what her life as a freelancer looks like now. 


1. How did you get started as a freelancer?

Back when I was a high school English teacher, I was hired by a regional family magazine to write feature articles and to do a column titled “Ask the Teacher.” That’s when I learned how to write in other people’s voices because although it was a family magazine, I didn’t have children of my own. Soon after, I landed a book deal with McGraw-Hill, and that was when my ghostwriting (books) career really took off.

Don’t let friends and family discourage you. Learn how to smile, nod, and go do what you love anyway.

2.     What's been the hardest obstacle you've overcome?

Definitely convincing other people that I could make it as a freelancer. I had no problem convincing myself, but friends and family had major doubts and were more than happy to let me know. I know many freelancers who have faced the same obstacle, and we all agree that it is more of an emotional and mindset issue. It’s up to us to overcome it and push forward. 

3.     What does a typical day look like for you? 

In all my years, I never drank a cup of coffee. But, I gave up my orange juice and started drinking coffee at the age of 52. So, now my day starts with a cup of coffee and almond milk. From there, it depends on the hat I’m wearing. I own a publishing company, a photography business, and I’m a ghostwriter. I’ve scheduled my week to spend three days on publishing, one day on photography (administrative, not in the field), and one day on my ghostwriting clients. My weekends are mine, and usually we (my boyfriend and our two black labs) are away camping in our RV on photo shoots. We recently went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, which was amazing, and we are going to Kennebunkport, Maine this summer.

4.     What advice would you give to a new freelancer?

See number two! Don’t let friends and family discourage you. Learn how to smile, nod, and go do what you love anyway.

5.     Tell me more about how you decide who to work with. 

For my publishing company, I publish a broad spectrum of genres from children’s books to fantasy/sci-fi to women’s literature to inspirational memoir. For the photography business, I do a lot of real estate photography, but I am also developing online courses for both low-light photography and a photographing water. The ghostwriting clients are a totally different process. There has to be a real passion for a project to spend six months to a year on writing a book with a client.

6.     Where do you see your business going in the coming year?

I’m looking to grow the publishing company over the next three to five years in tangent with offering the online photography courses. Eventually, I might offer online writing courses. Right now, my goal is to have both photography courses up and running by summertime.

7.     How would someone know they would do well with your type of freelance work? 

It takes soul-searching. If you don’t love editing, book formatting, cover design, etc., you won’t be as good at it. Yes, I outsource, but you still have to love what you do. Almost all of my clients come to me based on my industry reputation and client referrals. I started out as an editor and freelance writer and that quickly leaped into ghostwriting and publishing. Photography is my passion though. Just don’t ask me to cook or draw!



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Heather Hummel is the Founder and Creative Director of PathBinder Publishing. She has personally penned over a dozen books (and counting) as a ghostwriter. Her clients include corporations, politicians, philanthropists, dating coaches, real estate agents, public figures, and business leaders. With experience in both traditional and independent publishing, Heather's diverse background and knowledge of the industry appeals to many authors seeking a qualified ghostwriter. As a photographer, Heather’s interest in land and seascape has always been much stronger than any other source of inspiration. A graduate with High Distinction from the University of Virginia, Heather holds a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree with concentrations in English and Secondary Education.



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