With a background in sports administration, Rusty Haines says that he sort of “fell backwards” into freelance writing while chasing the media for coverage and promotion for each club and association he’d previously worked for. While trying to figure out his next step after finishing a contract with Speed Skating Ontario, he contacted Peterborough This Week to see if they needed anyone to provide sports coverage, “and it just sort of stemmed from there,” such as a more recent role writing editorials and web content. Writing, which started off as something to keep him busy until he could find further full time work, has by now become a passion.
Rusty majored in physical education at Western University, and had originally wanted to be a teacher with English as his second area of focus. “Writing has always been kind of been a part of what I did…. It’s something that I’ve always kind of enjoyed doing and people told me that I was good at it.” And having such an extensive background in the topics that he covers helps Rusty understand not just the subject matter but also the dynamics behind it.
The opportunity to be creative and to create something was a major draw for him. “It’s almost like building a house, where you get the raw materials and then you just get to build off it, and it’s something that people end up enjoying.” He also appreciates the recognition that comes with making something that people find useful. On the other hand, he notes that the uncertainty of freelancing can be hard: “You never know how busy you’re going to be from week to week.”
One of his favourite jobs was also a somewhat personal one, when he got to write a community piece on an 11-year-old girl who happened to be friends with his daughter. “She had to wait for a heart transplant. And the amazing thing about the story was that she had her birthday: she and her friends sat around at the birthday party and when they blew out the candles, they made a wish. And within 24 hours, she was told that she was getting a heart. It was pretty amazing.”
He finds that prioritizing and scheduling is important for him when it comes to freelancing, in order to keep it balanced with a busy personal life and his volunteer work: “It’s being able to section off that time, to schedule it and make sure you have ample time to put focus on it.” To those just starting out in the profession, he recommends persistence and patience, because it can take time. For his part, he’s grateful to Peterborough This Week for giving him the opportunity to get his start in the business.
You can learn more about Rusty and view samples of his work on his blog, peterboroughsportsscene.