Based in São Paulo, Priscilla Portugal relishes in changing her workspace, whether it be at her home office, the beauty salon or the beach. As a writer and editor, she takes delight in storytelling and empathising with the reader, all while capturing each brand’s distinctive tone of voice.
Hi Priscilla! Where in the world are you based?
Hello! In São Paulo, Brazil.
How long have you been a writer and editor and what drew you to this profession?
I finished Journalism College in 2001 and since then I’ve been writing. When I was a teenager, I chose this profession because I loved to write and to read – I remember at the start of each month I would wait anxiously for the new editions of magazines to arrive. Writing is my passion and my therapy. A couple of years ago, to give you an example, I created a website about infertility (www.cademeunenem.com.br) to share my seven-year struggle to get pregnant. I discovered the huge pleasure of telling stories after I graduated – not only in newspapers and magazines, but also for brands. Researching, learning something new, mixing up all the information with my own repertoire, bringing colour to a description, being playful with language and surprising the reader, thinking outside the box... It helps me to exercise empathy – towards the readers and consumers – and makes me feel alive. The role of editor came afterwards, when I moved to São Paulo in 2008 to work at a lifestyle magazine within an important publishing house.
"I discovered the huge pleasure of telling stories after I graduated – not only in newspapers and magazines, but also for brands."
How has freelancing changed your attitude towards work?
I love my home office, especially now, with my 8-month-old baby next door. Freelancing gave me the opportunity to manage my schedule in an independent way, which is a big deal for me. But of course, you must have the discipline to work when it’s necessary.
What are the benefits and challenges of working as a freelancer in Brazil?
To be able to work from anywhere is great – I can write from the beach, from my mother’s house (in Curitiba, 400 km away from where I live), from the beauty salon... the biggest challenges are having to refuse nice jobs because my schedule is already full and hardly ever taking a vacation.
What brings you the greatest satisfaction in your work?
- Telling stories.
- Learning something completely new at every job.
- Combining new information with my personal repertoire to come up with something totally new and creative.
What's the best advice you've ever received?
I worked on an experimental project of a brand new lifestyle magazine for Brazilian beauty brand Natura. My editor asked me about one fashion section I had proposed: “why is this content here and not in Avon or Mary Kay’s magazine?”. It made me think about the importance of creating customised content, making the brand’s essence very clear for the reader and building – with language and tone of voice – a brand personality. Since then, that’s the thought behind my work on branded content – even if it’s a simple product description.
Can you name a book you'd recommend to other freelance content creators?
I rarely read technical books – I prefer novels. Recently I’ve finished Elena Ferrante’s complete series, but I also love Gabriel García Máquez (especially Love in the Time of Cholera) and Jorge Amado (Capitães de Areia and Gabriela Cravo e Canela). I’ve also read poems by Vinicius de Moraes and chronicles by Nina Horta dozens of times. For reading specifically about content creation, I love to sign up to newsletters written by nice agencies and creators, as well as Medium and LinkedIn articles.
How do you overcome writer's block?
I sleep on the problem. The worst thing for me is when I have to rush to write something really creative, because my best ideas always come at inconvenient times: when I’m in the shower, when I’m about to fall asleep or when I’m playing with my baby.