Seasoned for greatness: Kenneth Goh’s journey into the world of freelance culinary writing
Singapore-based lifestyle journalist and editor Kenneth Goh shares his experiences as a freelancer in the brilliantly colorful landscapes of food and lifestyle writing.
Kenneth Goh took his first dive into the vibrant world of lifestyle journalism in 2014, as a reporter for the most widely read newspaper in Singapore, The Straits Times.
“Being a food journalist with The Straits Times is a rigorous job – there was always something happening in the vibrant industry – opening (and closing) of restaurants and cafes and the emergence of food trends,” he shared.
This built up his foundation as a writer for what can described as a journey into ‘Asian culinary revelry’.
Indeed, Goh basked in the pleasures of writing about anything under the culinary sun – from new food enclaves, snacks, cuisines, cooking tools, to interviewing a range of prolific industry experts and chefs.
During his three-year stint with The Straits Times, Goh wrote over 500 news and feature articles on topics ranging from food and beverage, to travel, retail, and lifestyle, gradually building up a strong reputation as a food writer.
Currently, he is a Digital Editor with The Peak, Singapore’s leading luxury lifestyle media brand.
Diving deeper, growing further
From his experiences as a journalist and networking with editors, he eventually ventured into the world of freelancing.
According to Goh, he was looking for a ‘change of scenery’ – something different from the daily deadlines of putting out articles and was able to secure freelance feature writing opportunities with a couple of food-related magazines.
His entry into freelance journalism got him deeper into feature writing, where he was able to engage his creativity and be more ‘colorful’ and in-depth with his stories – and at the same time, allowing him the freedom to manage his own time as he pleased.
After he left The Straits Times, he became an Associate Digital Editor with the Asian franchise of the internationally-revered reference for restauranteurs, hotels, and discerning foodies – MICHELIN Guides Asia.
There, Goh not only wrote stories but also developed editorial strategies for the Guide’s online content and branding.
“I went into greater depth into food reporting – chronicling the culinary journeys of Michelin-starred chefs by producing documentary-style videos and long-form personality features,” he shared.
In MICHELIN Guides Asia, Goh was able to not only write about his exquisite culinary experiences and food, but also profile some of Asia’s and the world’s legendary chefs such as Italian culinary giant Osteria Francescana, owner of the MICHELIN three-star restaurant, Massimo Bottura.
His work at MICHELIN Guides Asia also allowed to branch out to creating online content such as short-form videos and hosting Facebook Live interview sessions, extending his food coverage further to agriculture and food sustainability.
The freelancing experience
Freelancing has brought Goh on an eye-opening and liberating career journey, allowing him to push himself to grow beyond his comfort zone as a writer.
Through his freelance assignments, he branched out to writing about entrepreneurship, health care, education, place branding, culture, and travel.
“The best part about being a freelancer is the freedom to turn down projects that may not sit well with you or when you do not have the bandwidth to handle too much work,” he mused.
Despite needing to accomplish at least 15 assignments monthly to make what he previously did as a full-time writer, the fulfillment he got from the experiences and stories he has crafted throughout the years has been quite priceless.
Pro tips for aspiring freelance writers
On writing well-crafted stories that separates great ones from the good ones, Goh says:
“I think what sets apart good writing from great is being able to immerse readers into another world that they are able to experience what you’re writing just by reading the words that you have crafted together.”
He also advises to “show, don’t tell” and to have a good, exclusive angle to the issue or topic being written about.
Choosing great clients as a freelance writer can definitely take you farther, and when it comes to choosing good clients, Goh says to look out for a client “who respects the expertise and direction of a writer that the company has entrusted him/her to do the job, and being open to the suggestions and ideas of the writer”.
He adds that the clients’ briefs need to be direct and clear, with complete details and deadlines, and that they stick to the number of reviews and the payment schedule.
Goh has this to say for those seeking a career in freelance writing:
“Overall, if you want to become a freelance writer, to believe in yourself and know your worth”.
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