Episode 8: Catching Up with Megan Arszman
Welcome to Episode 8, where we catch up with fellow freelancer Megan Arszman! A native Hoosier with a Southern heart, Megan Arszman started freelancing in 2005, cutting her teeth covering reining futurities for the Quarter Horse News. She had just graduated with a degree in journalism and a minor in equine science from Murray State University, where she was captain of the Equestrian Team and photographer for the yearbook. She then moved to Texas for an opportunity that set her on her path for equine media--an internship with AQHA Media. Upon completion, she moved to Oklahoma to work for the National Reining Horse Association's magazine, The Reiner, and then further east to Lexington, Ky., where she started as an E-Newsletter/Photo Editor for The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care. She later morphed into a Web Producer role for the award-winning website and newsletter, while starting to grow her freelancing business again. After working at The Horse, she took her newly-aquired digital marketing skills to Neogen Corporation's Animal Science division, all while growing her own communications company on the side. After having her daughter, Aubrey, in 2015, Megan moved back to Central Indiana to join her husband where he had started a new job. Since moving back to Indiana, Megan worked as a social media strategist for an advertising agency and just recently accepted a new role as the Communications Coordinator for the Indiana Horse Racing Commission. All the while, Megan Arszman Communications has continued to grow, even with the addition of her now-2-year-old daughter. When not working, Megan enjoys working out and running, training and competing her dogs in agility, and is looking forward to a return to the horse show pen with her daughter and no-longer-retired reining horse. Megan has written for a variety of equine publications and websites, mainly focusing on the stock horse industry.
Abby: I met Megan through a note... she was the intern before me at AQHA, and she left me a wonderful letter in my desk giving me the 411 on the office. Her advice was such a help, and I will always remember that kindness. We met in person at a horse show when we were both working at associations, and connected more through the American Horse Publications Seminar. Megan is a hardworking writer, a mother and she's juggling a lot of balls right now. I am excited to introduce the Remuda to Megan, and I think a lot of us can relate to her challenges and triumphs. Thanks for taking time on your lunch break from your full-time job to talk to us Megan!
Tell us about your journey to freelance work, and why you choose the horse industry?
- Megan has always wanted to write. As a kid she dreamed of being an author, started a school paper in grade school, and then on her high school newspaper.
- She decided to focus on magazines after a newspaper internship in high school.
- She grew up on a farm & riding horses. That was her passion!
- Murray State (Kentucky) asked her to be on their rodeo team.
- NOTE: Her counselor said she would have to start in newspapers but Megan wanted to prove her wrong! AND SHE DID.
- Megan’s first freelance gig was before college graduation when she wrote for Quarter Horse News.
- Megan interned with AQHA. It was a jump for her, but she says it was her biggest and best decision for her future. She followed that with a job at NRHA. Then, she moved closer to home to Lexington, Kentucky, and The Horse.
- After that, she really grew her freelance communications company. It has been going strong for 12 years!
How has your new job with the Indiana Horse Commission changed your freelance workflow?
- Megan started her new job one week prior to our podcast recording.
- At her old job, she worked from home 2 days a week, which allowed for more productivity. Her schedule is not as flexible now with her state employee status.
- She focuses on growing the awareness of horse racing in Indiana.
- Megan does interviews on her lunch break and on her drive home from work, working as she can to complete her freelance assignments.
- **This style of interviewing works for her because she likes to “have a conversation with her sources.”
How does freelance work fit into your schedule?
- Carefully! Megan juggles her toddler, a full time job and her freelance work. She lets her source know that her daughter is in the car, if need be. She has found that her sources are understanding and open to her motherhood role.
- She works to schedule her time well. Her evenings are only for her daughter and she devotes that time to their relationship. After 9 p.m. she goes back to work.
- 2016 was a big year for Megan’s company. However, with the new challenge of work, she made a decision to take less work so that she would not let her work of her child suffer.
- Megan understands she can’t take quick turnaround assignments as often anymore. Last minute assignments are not always the right fit for her these days. Her goal is to be more organized.
Can you share some of your challenges in freelancing, and how you work to overcome them?
- Time management is Megan’s big challenge.
- For Megan, an open dialogue with her editor’s is a must to accomplish all of her work on time.
- In order to be more flexible, Megan knows she has to work ahead of deadline. Also, her Eastern time zone must be taken into account.
- A big challenge is when her husband travels – which is 60-70 percent of the year. When he is home, they tag team their daughter, Aubrey.
- Megan relates to Abigail & Kate noting that sharing a personal tidbit from their lives can help connect with a source to have a better conversation.
Can you share a highlight from your freelance career? Something that stands out as a special event/accomplishment?
- A big highlight was interviewing Bob Baffert – someone Megan followed since she was young – and meeting “Smokey” the pony horse that accompanied American Pharoah.
- Yearly, Megan finds joy in attending large horse events.
- She sees every event covered and profile written as an accomplishment and highlight, though she knows it sounds cheesy!
What do you love the most about freelancing?
- Sharing people’s stories is what drives Megan to write and freelance. She shares stories about people that touched her in different ways through sources.
- Megan loves and appreciates hearing from her sources after the assignment has been published.
Do you have any advice for listeners thinking "man, I want to write or take photos, but I've got this full time job. AND a kid. And all these other things going on. I'll never be able to do it?"
- Megan shares why she opts to work full time and freelance “on the side.” It is right for her family, right now.
- If writing or freelancing is what you want to do, do it!
- Prioritizing and making a schedule is one bit of advice from Megan. She also sets weekly goals to accomplish that give her a boost of confidence!
- Be open with your editors: Editors are people, too! Megan shares ways to communicate with an editor in a professional manner.
Anything else you'd like to share with listeners?
- Megan reminds listeners that whatever the situation is or where someone is located, there are horse lovers everywhere. If you want to freelance, find a way!
- Reach out to others that are similar and express a desire to take the first step.
How can listeners find you online?
About The Freelance Remuda
The Freelance Remuda is a podcast about navigating the equine media frontier. Co-hosted by seasoned freelance professionals Abigail Boatwright and Kate Bradley Byars, the podcast explores the trials and triumphs surrounding life as a freelancer in equine media, while sharing valuable tips from equine media editors and creatives doing what they love. Find and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.