After attending a Upod Academy workshop in 2014, Meghan Cleary landed as Contributing Editor at The Hollywood Reporter's Pret-a-Reporter. Here's what she says: "As writers, we grapple with many challenges -- how to maintain creative juice in an uber-connected world, how to turn ideas into pitches that captivate editors and readers, and how to tap into our true inner passions for maximum impact. Upod Academy is hands-down the most supportive and dare I say, loving, atmosphere to tackle problems, generate ideas, and come away with both tangible results and lifelong friends. My position as Contributing Editor, Pret-a-Reporter, for The Hollywood Reporter would have never happened without the support and insight of Upod. If you are debating whether to go, the answer is go."
Two weeks after her 2015 Upod Academy webinar, Nancy Johnson pitched a magazine idea for the first time ever to one of the Upod guest speakers, an editor from O, the Oprah Magazine. Months passed and she heard nothing. She followed up three times via email, as per Upod protocol. Still nothing.
Finally, the editor wrote to say she wanted to run the piece in the November 2015 issue. As an added bonus, O Magazine flew Nancy to New York for a photo shoot.
"I never would have believed I could sell an essay to O if it hadn't been for Upod Academy. Now, I have the confidence and tools I need to craft more stories and sell them."
"David sent me an email after the workshop to say he appreciated that I flew across the country for Upod Academy, and I told him, 'Now that I've experienced it, I would have flown across the world.'
"If you have the chance to experience PodCad, jump on it. I actually told my sister I think it was life-changing. I'm sitting here, stumped for exactly how to express how amazing this weekend was.
I guess the best I can do is explain that you get 15 other perspectives on what you're doing in your career -- all of which generally pinpoint things you can't see yourself -- more inspiration than you thought existed, plus the support that you need to turn your dreams into reality.
I was just telling the group that randomly on Saturday, the thought, 'This is my tribe,' popped into my head -- and I'm not one to use that phrase, but it felt very right. The next time David has one, don't hesitate. Just go."
Robin Rinaldi sold a feature story she developed at Upod Academy to Saveur, sold another to Oprah’s magazine through a workshop contact, and finished a 120-page book proposal that she sold (with the help of an agent she met via Upod) to an imprint at Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
The result was the first book to come out of Upod Academy: The Wild Oats Project: One Woman's Midlife Quest for Passion at Any Cost (2015).
As Robin says, "Honestly, everything I’m working on at the moment is in some way connected to my PodCad experience."
Nicole Pajer says she got a major dose of motivation to push to the next level from her experience at Upod Academy. "Prior to the class, I was writing consistently but for the same outlets," she says. "I desperately wanted to get into bigger publications.
Thanks to the techniques I picked up in class -- time management, relationship building, networking, making an action plan--along with the support from my classmates, I'm now writing regularly for places such as Rolling Stone, Billboard, Men's Journal and Mental Floss.
The solitary pursuit. That’s what freelancing felt like before I bit the bullet, ponied up, and decided to give this Upod Academy thing a try. I’ve rarely felt that way since.
It’s easy to describe what goes on at Upod—you hang with a diverse group of kindred souls united in their quest to do great work, learn all kinds of tips and tricks for finding stories and pitching great outlets, and come away brimming with ideas, leads, lessons, and enthusiasm. What’s harder to describe, and a testament to David’s status as a certified ninja guru, is the sense of belonging and community that transpires. Freelancing is not a solitary pursuit. That’s the most important thing I took away from this epic weekend.
Carita Rizzo admits she wasn't sure what she was looking for when she signed up for Upod Academy, but she knew her career "was not evolving the way I had hoped." What she got out of that first of many PodCad experiences was "the greatest career kick I've experienced since I started working as a journalist a decade ago. Thanks to David, I set concrete, realistic goals that I managed to reach within a few months.
I've increased my client base, written features I thought were out of my reach, and made my first contributors page (Yay!). I’m now working for Glamour, InStyle, Angeleno, LA Confidential and more. It goes without saying that the advice I got from David through PodCad was invaluable, but what is truly life changing is having a group of peers who understand your crazy inner monologue, your frustrations with the business and actually find joy in helping you, rather than keeping you down. For that alone I would take this class a thousand times over."
"'You want to write essays full-time?,' David asked me at my first PodCad. I was reviewing all the work I'd done over the last decade and realized, yes, I do want to mostly work on essays and reported essays about my life and things I am doing.
"Flash forward a couple of years, and a weekly column in The New York Times Motherlode blog chronicling my fertility diary plus other reported essays in Slate, Salon, Aeon and elsewhere.
I like to say Upod is like therapy for your writing career. Everyone -- including David -- helps you figure out where you want to be and how to get there."
Whether it is one of his Upod bootcamps, an online event or one-on-one coaching, David Hochman has a way of inspiring and supporting us freelance warriors to zero in on what matters and to reconnect to why we chose this profession in the first place.
Every tribe has its wise guides. David is one of mine, and I'm grateful our paths crossed.
Ken Miller's experience at Upod Academy led him to "a cascade of story ideas," including the biggest assignment in years -- a 4,000-word profile of a pioneering neurobiologist for Discover, and a second profile there of a cutting edge mycologist.
It also opened doors at Psychology Today, Parade and Harper's and renewed relationships at Reader's Digest, Ladies Home Journal and Prevention.
"I am also trail-running five days a week (which I count as a success, even though it doesn't directly generate income), thanks to PodCad and the kick in the butt not just to write better but live better."
Jeff Miller is the editor of Thrillist Los Angeles and writes freelance for Maxim, the Los Angeles Times, Variety and elsewhere.
He says, "I honestly can't put into words how much the thanks for my writing career belongs to David Hochman. He was the first person to take what I already knew I loved -- writing -- and make sure I was looking at it as a profession rather than a hobby.
"From how to write my first pitch letter to line-editing grammar mistakes in huge pieces to late-night career-chat phone calls, David's been there for literally every step of the way. He's the best. There's no other way to say it."