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December 22, 2013 by Sarah Hazelwood
Having a passion about something, then being able to write about it for people to see around the world would be, for many, a dream come true.
Over the years the number of freelance writers has increased massively, as more writers come to realise that its possible to showcase their talent and share their knowledge with others, without being employed by a big brand or publisher.
Andy Boxall is a prime example of this. Having freelanced for almost a decade, Andy has written about a variety of subjects both in print and online. But mobile technology has always been his forte. His name already frequently crops up on sites like Digital Trends, and with an invite to CES 2014, one of the year’s biggest tech shows, next year looks to be packed with even more impressive ventures.
Name: Andy Boxall
Job title: Freelance Writer
Job spec: Writes news, reviews, opinion and features on all aspects of mobile technology.
Top tips: Be prepared to work long or unusual, hours. Don’t be afraid to write about many different subjects at first, but have a specialist subject in your mind on which you’d like to concentrate on in the future.
Everyday essentials: A laptop, internet connection and a comfortable and supportive chair.
We dug a little deeper to find out exactly what being a freelancer writer entails, and understand just how important self-discipline is if you want to make your way up the career ladder and get in all the right tech circles.
You freelance on some of the web’s biggest tech sites, how did you get into this business?
“By chance, really. I started out editing a travel magazine, then went freelance reviewing hotels in Europe. The seasonal nature of that work meant I had to look for alternative sources of income. I sold phones long before I became a writer, and was still interested in them, so I looked for related opportunities.”
Is there one website/ publication that you don’t currently write for but would love to in the future?
“Technology-wise, none spring to mind. But I’ve always wanted to be in the position to write investigative reports for Private Eye. Sadly, that’ll never happen!”
You’re clearly very passionate about technology, is there a key trend/innovation in the world of mobile that’s really impressed you over the years?
“There are so many. For example, I will always remember being amazed by the huge difference in responsiveness between a resistive and a capacitive touchscreen. The iPad is also something which stands out, as like many, I was sceptical until I used one. I’m pretty sure I’ve used it or another tablet every day since then.”
You write about everything smartphone related from news stories to reviews, what do you enjoy most and why?
“I enjoy all aspects of my job, but writing opinion and editorial pieces is always satisfying, whether they’re scathing or humorous. In addition to these, gadget reviews and hands-on reports are the most exciting. After all, what self-respecting tech fan wouldn’t want to play with the latest phones and tablets soon after release?”
Over the years you’ve written about a variety of subjects, can you tell us more about this and is it something you still do?
“These days it’s all about mobile technology, but when I decided to go freelance, I wanted to find a niche that I was really interested in, so I wrote about things I enjoyed, such as travel, cars and films. At the same time, I wrote several role-playing games for an American company, which was great fun. These remain some of my most creative work, and I’d love to do it again one day.”
Some people see freelancing as a risky business because you’re not in a permanent role with one company. What are the pros and cons about being a freelancer and how do you overcome any obstacles?
“Freelancers get to choose their own hours, where they work, and for whom. While this can offer quite a bit of freedom, if you want to be successful you’ll end up working more hours than those who have a fixed job. Working from home is full of temptation too, just because you can sit down and watch TV in the afternoon, doesn’t mean it’s a good use of your time. For this reason, self discipline is one of the most important aspects of a freelancer’s personality.”
You’ve had the pleasure of attending some of the tech world’s biggest shows including Mobile World Congress. How does it feel to be one of the first to test out new innovations and do you have a favourite event?
“While playing with new phones and other devices at tech shows is great, the real excitement comes from searching the show floor for the innovations that will appear in the next generation. I don’t have a particular favourite, although the smaller press events provide a better opportunity to get to grips with new hardware, and are much easier on the feet.”
Who or what is your biggest influence in tech and why?
“This is a good question, and not one I’ve often thought about. I’m not sure I’m influenced by anyone, but I do see certain people in tech journalism as inspirational. Tech evangelist Robert Scoble is one – he always seems motivated and excited about the industry. Another would be Ryan Block, the former Engadget editor and co-founder of gdgt.com, I believe the world of tech blogging would be very different without him. I’d also cite John C. Dvorak, who introduced me to many interesting tech personalities through the now defunct Cranky Geeks video podcast.”
What piece of technology/event/ handset are you most excited about covering next year and why?
“2014 will be my first year at CES in Las Vegas, which should be quite an experience. Otherwise I’m looking forward to seeing more flexible phones, and gazing at 1440p resolution screens, if only to see if my eyes can tell the difference over 1080p. Most of all though, I want Google Glass to go on sale in the UK, so I can buy a pair.”
To find out more about Andy and check out some of his work head on over to his website.
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