Welcome to Bolt’s insider secrets series! This series will take you behind the scenes into the worlds of writers from different industries. Here you’ll find out everything from what their jobs are like to how to get started in their field.
Richard Hartung, Financial Writer & Consultant
How did you get into the business?
I’m a former banker and still provide consulting services for banks. About ten years ago, I started writing commentary for a newspaper and found that I really enjoyed it.
I studied international relations as an undergraduate and business in graduate school so I didn’t have an educational background in writing. Instead, I took online courses that provided great insights to improve my skills.
Once I’d been writing for a year or two and found I enjoyed it a lot, I reached out to more publications online, introductions from friends and contacting companies about writing for them.
What do you do as a financial writer?
My background is in banking and I use that experience to write for two online financial publications. I also write commentary for a newspaper as well as articles for a publication that focuses on water and for a public service magazine.
Along with writing for the media, I write for internal publications at banks, government agencies, consulting firms and other organizations. I also write articles for non-profits and have written two books that encourage people to volunteer or work for non-profits. And in 2015, I edited a book with 50 stories about Singapore.
What is your greatest moment on the job so far?
The greatest moment so far was the launch party for the publication of my first book, Changing Lanes, Changing Lives. It tells the stories of a baker’s dozen of people who have successfully shifted from the corporate sector to a non-profit. What’s perhaps even more satisfying is meeting people who tell me it has played a role in their decision to work full-time for a non-profit.
What was the most challenging moment on the job?
Last year one newsletter I had written for during the past five years shut down. I started talking with editors at other similar publications about whether there might be an opportunity for a similar role at their publication, and opportunities seemed to be limited. As it turned out, the newsletter title was bought by another firm, which resurrected it, and I’m back to writing for the publication regularly.
Tips and tricks for your industry.
Networking as well as mentioning to friends that I write and asking for introductions to organizations they work with has been an important link to new writing opportunities. Online courses have helped improve my writing skills, though I’ve found it’s important to select high-quality programs with instructors who can provide good feedback and also engage fellow students in critiquing pieces I write.
I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to write for publications outside Singapore – along with writing for publications based in Singapore, I also write for publications based in London, Paris and Washington DC – so looking across borders can be beneficial.
What are some things you wish you knew before you entered the industry?
The opportunity to write came about serendipitously, and I’m delighted that I can write so much.
How would a novice get started in your industry?
The key is to start writing. What I found is that once I had a reference site, it was easier to find engagements for other publications. I could link them to my articles so that they could see how I wrote. I started with the newspaper, for example, then also wrote for non-profits and then for one of the financial publications.
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