The current Drinks Editor at Australia’s leading bar trade title Australian Bartender, Simon is also a bit of a gun for hire. You can find him mixing drinks behind the bar Thursday and Friday nights at Gardel’s Bar above the critically acclaimed Porteno restaurant, or read his work on The Agenda Daily and Nine to Five online, or in print in Box magazine.
A modern day ‘Bon Vivant’ Simon is passionate about entertaining, drinks and contemporary bar culture. If you have a question about booze then Simon is your man.
Describe yourself in 3 words: Passionate, curious, philosophical
What is your life motto? Tough one but it would be something like: “work to live, don’t live to work”. Work life balance is really important to me– even when working hard it has to be on something you love.
When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? I started writing professionally about bars and drinks in 2006. It really is a niche market but in some ways that has helped. By 2008 I was employed full-time as an editor of a bar trade magazine with little to no experience in that role.
How many hours did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? To be honest I’m still pursing it. You should never stop pursing it. As clichéd as this is going to sound, it’s all about the journey. If you reach a state of complete contentment what is left to strive for? How will you continue to succeed?
Describe how difficult the business really is? Well I’ve been freelance for the past year and it’s really tough. You need to find as many sources of income as possible and in the writing business and finding people with cash for writers is getting tougher by the day as editorial budgets get slashed. But keep an open mind and take time to listen to people’s ideas – being ‘freelance’ is being ‘free’ to pursue all sorts of opportunities. In your first year though you need to be prepared to take a pay cut.
What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? Not knowing anything about bookkeeping before going freelance was a mistake. Fortunately my partner is meticulous with hers and has taught me a lot. She has also been my publicist and is great at cracking the whip to get me motivated!
What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date? To keep a close eye on your invoicing and expenses – one of two things needs to happen, you need to reduce your expenses or invoice more to make more money. Sounds simple, but it is easy to lose sight of this.
In your mind, is formal training essential? No absolutely not; at least not in your chosen field. These days it is a convention for people to get a university degree – it certainly isn’t as rare as it might have been 20 years ago. An Arts degree might not make you stand out from a list of candidates, but it has been one of the best things I have ever done. Having a good grasp of English can make you a more persuasive and convincing writer and speaker – great for emails and interviews.
Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? Yes I do. You’ll be surprised at how willing people are to give advice. It can’t hurt to drop anybody a line and ask them a few questions – perhaps see if you can buy them a coffee or a drink. Just don’t become a stalker.
What are some steps emerging talent can take to start/further their career? Networking. This doesn’t just mean going to every industry event and party but starting a dialogue and building relationships through follow-up emails and phone conversations etc. Don’t be afraid to give out your card and don’t be afraid to ask for one.
What kept you going when you felt like giving up? Well the main thing is the lifestyle. I love the bar and drinks industry and whilst I am still building my business to become more lucrative, I’m enjoying every step of the way. I enjoy my busy though more flexible hours and being responsible for my own success.
No. You make your own luck. If you want something you just have to want it enough and go for it – learn from your setbacks and give it another crack. The real question is where do you want to ‘make it’ to?