Today we’d like to introduce you to Victoria Davis.
Victoria, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I studied multi-media journalism at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) in San Diego and graduated in May 2018. I have been out of college for over a year now and it’s been a surprise where my post-grad journalism journey has led. While I always aspired to be a journalist, writing and publishing stories about art, film and culture, I never anticipated I would be running my own business to do it, working as a full-time freelancer.
I took three tough, yet reputable journalism internships in college, wrote for my school’s newspaper The Point Weekly for three years and even became the paper’s Features editor. I was Editor In Chief of the Point Loma chapter of The Odyssey Online, worked for PLNU’s Driftwood literary arts magazine for a year and won two SPJ San Diego awards for articles I had written my senior year about a petition to save Liberty Station’s North Chapel and my interview with two men from opposite sides of the Iran/Iraq War who had a documentary about their life featured in San Diego’s Asian Film Festival. I had interviewed Olympic athletes, movie stars, activists, circus performers, and more. I thought that, for sure, once I graduated from college, I was guaranteed a job.
But that wasn’t the case. After spending four years in San Diego, my husband Bill and I moved to Madison, WI so Bill could pursue his own undergrad. I was sad to leave San Diego but my academic advisor, Dean Nelson, gave me words of wisdom that I’ll never forget: “Better to be a big fish in a small pond, than a small fish in a big pond.” That may seem like a cheesy line out of a fortune cookie, but he was right. I saw the move as a chance to make my mark in a smaller city. But Madison had plenty of competition of its own and no shortage of arts and culture that other young and eager writers were chomping at the bit to write about. The competition, even in Madison was fierce. I spent all of June and July sending out resumes and cover letters for full-time positions. Nothing. I was either kindly declined or was never acknowledged.
I was upset and pretty depressed since I felt like I had nose-dived from the top of Mount Everest–where I had thrived as a student and intern–down the bottom of a very, very dry valley. After being rejected from another job, I asked the employer what I could do better. Sure, she gave me the ol’ “Get more experience” bit. But she also said, “There’s no harm in freelancing. Gather as many seeds as you can, plant them in your garden, and see what grows.” It was revolutionary advice that I grabbed onto with both fists. I began sending emails and phone calls out to newspapers where I wanted to work, even if there was no job listing, asking for any work at all. Thanks to amazing friends I really don’t deserve, I connected with people across state lines who needed freelance website designers or editors. I got lucky and by some miracle hooked almost every job I went after. Before I knew it I had not one, but nine steady freelance gigs with media industries from all across the board and all across the U.S.
With the help of friends and family, I built a logo, designed business cards and created my business: Davis Depiction Media, “Working to make a name for the people whose stories I tell.”
What was even more special was that I didn’t have to give up investing in a community that had been my home for four years: San Diego. I was fortunate enough to have interned for people who were willing to let me work remotely, conducting interviews over Skype or phone calls. While it might seem like an isolating way to tell stories, I got to know my story subjects better than I could have ever thought. I was writing stories about Miss Russian San Diego beauty pageants and getting to know these women and their stories on a deep level. I got to write about La Jolla “Art Alchemists” and Pacific Beach “Puppy Storks.” I began pitching stories about a 90-year-old man in La Jolla who still volunteers to clean the coast walk just because he loves his home and San Diego’s rising stars in the comedy and acting business. I’ve even written about professional boxing champions and Dr. Seuss.
I’ve been a full-time freelancer for over a year now, working with publications in San Diego and all over the U.S. with the intent to tell amazing stories of everyday people (and also not-so-everyday people). Davis Depiction Media may be a one-woman show right now, but I am working with dozens of other incredible writers and editors who are wise beyond all recognition every day to make sure people get to share their stories about the things that matter to them. I never anticipated staying a full-time freelancer and LLC entrepreneur long-term, but I couldn’t imagine giving up the chance to write for so many people in so many different places.
I’m so lucky that I never had to leave San Diego behind even after I moved and now people in the community will email me personally with stories they want to see covered. Balancing nine jobs isn’t easy–I am now a full-time freelance journalist, photographer, editor, web designer, social media and website manager–but it’s so worth it to have the reward of investing in so many different communities, including San Diego and meeting such cool individuals and groups I would have never had the privilege to know otherwise.
Has it been a smooth road?
It was difficult going through the move and then getting rejected over and over again for two months, though it very well could have been way longer, and I’m glad I didn’t kill too many trees by printing out a ridiculous number of resumes. But I was introduced to so many women who decided to freelance full time and it was encouraging to see others who decided not to wait for opportunity to come to them. Heck, they didn’t even politely knock at the door. These lady-boss freelancers charged into their futures with full force and it inspired me to do the same. There are days, and even weeks, where work is slow and it can get discouraging. But I look at those slower months as a chance to invest even more fully in a story I’m working on.
Writing about San Diego’s Miss Russian beauty pageant, that was during a slow month and I got to spend all day talking to those girls on the phone and getting to know them. I still keep in touch with a handful of them and that’s incredibly special to me. And getting to take the time to have a relaxed conversation with someone, and not be on a time crunch, makes for a much more authentic interview and connection which in turn makes for a more authentic story. The relationships I’ve built during those slower months is well worth the struggles that come with being a freelancer.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
Davis Depiction Media is a business of storytelling, “Working to make a name for the people whose stories I tell.” Journalism, at times, can be a very self-focused business and, though I am a private contractor and freelance contributor for other publications, I wanted my freelancing to have its own name too and a unique purpose behind it. But of course, that vision is only possible because of the editors and writers I get to work with every month.
Currently, I am a news and arts and culture journalist and photographer for Madison’s Isthmus Newspaper, I am a food writer and photographer for Madison’s The Capital Times, I am an entertainment writer for Hidden Remote and The Mary Sue, both online publications based in New York, and am a features, news and arts and culture freelance writer for the San Diego Community Newspaper Group. I also freelance for San Diego CityBeat and Women’s Running Magazine. On top of that, I am an editor and content coordinator for Syndicate Media Group in Oregon and also design websites and manage social media for individual clients.
In a nutshell, I’m basically one person doing a lot of media with a lot of different media outlets. That’s the abridged version, anyway. But what sets me apart from other freelancers or freelance businesses is I don’t work story-to-story. I have strong relationships with these nine jobs and get to invest with not only the publications and media outlets (rather than doing one job or one story and moving on) but also with the communities they serve. As a freelancer, I want the stories I write to stand out and illustrate the genuine voice of whoever I write about.
As far as specialties go, I’m known for my work as an arts, culture, and features writer. If there’s a human interest angle to a story, I’ll find every excuse I can to take that approach. My stories focus on people, sometimes even profiling chefs, artists and musicians. I love being the channel through which the rest of the city gets to meet them. I think that’s one of the things I’m most proud of with owning my own business and being a full-time freelancer. I get to work with dozens of different communities, no matter how far away I live from them, and I get to share stories of the people in that community and help them or their businesses get recognition. I recently did a story about a women-led group called the San Diego Business Babes and it was so amazing getting to use my own business to write a story about women who are encouraging other women to be entrepreneurs and start their own businesses.
Another proud moment was when I had the chance to write an investigative story about how North Chapel, a history Chapel in Liberty Station, was going to be demolished and a group of people were petitioning to save it. I did dig up issues with the rules and regulations regarding the reconstruction of the chapel, but more importantly, I had the privilege to talk about North Chapel’s history and what the place meant to those who went there for service, getting married or even hosting funerals. It was a chance to get the word out about a chapel that may have gone unnoticed by the majority of San Diego and could have been destroyed without anyone knowing its story or how much the regular church attendants loved the building.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Yes! San Diego is a city that thrives off of private businesses. I’m actually blown away by how much I’ve gotten to write about so many year in San Diego alone–Astronobeads, Kindness Gems, The Sexy Mama Movement, Seven Surf Apparel, Wingman Watches, Point Loman Apparel–and I am always amazed by how some of these people packed up their lives and moved to San Diego just to start their own business. Small businesses thrive here in San Diego and I love that my own business brings me into community with people who are doing the same things I am: planting their seeds and seeing what grows.
San Diego might be an expensive place to live, but it’s a city that is an incubator for creativity and original ideas. If someone was planning on starting their own business, they can’t do much better than signing up for things like the OB farmers market or just walking down the Gaslamp district and meet as many people as they can. San Diego may be a big city, but there will always be a home here for entrepreneurs, where the water (and weather) is warm.
- Website: https://www.victoriadavisdepiction.com/
- Phone: 7632320583
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/victoriadavisd/
- Facebook: https://business.facebook.com/VictoriaDavisJournalist
- Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/victoriadavisd/
Victoria Davis (myself), San Diego Business Babes, Miss Russian San Diego