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Offline Isaac Adeniran

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How to make money as a freelance journalist
« on: May 02, 2018, 03:15:40 AM »
How To Make Money As A Freelance Journalist
By Matthew Stibbe

Assumptions

    Youíre not already a professional writer but a regular person looking to become a writer.
    Journalism wonít (initially) be your only source of income.
    You want to be a freelance journalist not a poet, novelist or playwright
    The basics like being able to read, write, punctuate, spell, use a computer, use the Internet for research etc. are not difficult for you.



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How to make money as a freelance journalist
« on: May 02, 2018, 03:15:40 AM »

Offline Isaac Adeniran

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2018, 03:17:38 AM »
Honing your skills

    Read lots. I mean LOTS. I subscribe to about thirty magazines in my field and every time I fly I buy five magazines that I would never normally read. I also get a dozen emails from mailing lists every day and look at a lot of websites each morning.

    Develop your curiosity: Donald Murray, my hero, says that a journalist is forever astonished at the obvious.

    Write lots. If you want to be a writer, write. Aim for 1000-2000 words a day. (As an aside this document took me 35m to write from start to finish. Itís about 2200 words.) [PS Plus another 30m a year later to reformat for the blog and put in some links. Typing quick isn't a problem if you know what you want to say. Researching original stuff takes longer.]

    Learn to tell a story. Control of suspense and the ability to tell a story that sustains the reader's interest in central to the craft of journalism
    Read the books in the bibliography, especially Writing to Deadline, for more info.

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2018, 03:17:38 AM »

Offline Isaac Adeniran

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2018, 03:20:07 AM »
Study different magazinesí styles and content. Collect nice phrases and see how they handle the technical stuff like attributing quotes.

    Write 50 ledes. To see what I mean watch the (otherwise ghastly) Shipping News.
    Watch films about journalism. All the Presidentís Men is one good one but, frankly, it doesn't reflect the life of a freelancer very well.
    Read books on writing (see bibliography)
    Go to classes, but donít spend a bunch of money unless you can spare it.

Finding a subject

Itís impossible to be a good writer on every subject. Find one or two areas that really appeal to you and in which you feel confident that you can become an expert and concentrate on them. It doesnít matter whether it is chicken farming or tribal politics in Mongolia, thereíll probably be a market for your work. To write about absolutely anything you need to be the greatest writer in the world. Me? I write about business, technology and planes Ė the stuff I know and love. You'll do better as a freelance journalist if you specialise.
What to charge

NaijaSky

Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #2 on: May 02, 2018, 03:20:07 AM »

Offline Isaac Adeniran

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2018, 03:21:34 AM »
The NUJ has a ĎRate for the Jobí website which gives guidelines for how much you can ask for different freelance journalism jobs. In my experience, UK magazine rates vary between 10p a word and 35p a word. Corporate work is typically around 50p-£1 a word. US magazine rates are $0.35-$1.50 depending on circulation but generally Americans expect more rewrites, fact checking and general fussing than British magazines. Typically, these rates are expressed in terms of Ďrate per thousand wordsí. This usually includes all your expenses and time for interviews etc.

Another way to tackle the problem is to work out how many days a year you want to work (240 working days a year, minus 30 for holidays, minus 30 for administration and business development is a good start), work out how much you want to earn from writing and divide one into the other to get a daily rate. Then work out how much you can write in a day, factoring in interviews and research, and charge that (if you can!).
Marketing and business development

Freelance journalism is a business. You are your own CEO and marketing department as well as your R&D department and factory. You can be the best writer in the world but if you don't sell your stories, nobody will read them.

NaijaSky

Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #3 on: May 02, 2018, 03:21:34 AM »

Offline Isaac Adeniran

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2018, 03:23:53 AM »
Daily pitch Ė this is key. If you send out 240 (or even 365) pitches a year, and you get a 10% response rate youíll get a reasonable amount of work. But send something EVERY day, even if youíre busy. The wrong time to be looking for work is when you have nothing to do.
    Build relationships. Better to have good relationships with three editors than shotgun fifty who donít remember you.
    Study the publication before making the pitch
    Donít be put off but remember that editors are busy.
    Keep records: pitch history, contact database (live / dead / pending), pitch targets, story ideas database.
    Get a good website and raise your profile online.
   
   

NaijaSky

Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #4 on: May 02, 2018, 03:23:53 AM »

Offline Isaac Adeniran

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2018, 03:25:48 AM »
Generating ideas

Again, read lots. I get most of my ideas by reading obscure trade magazines and insider websites and then selling the stories to more mainstream media. Keep a notebook for ideas and write down anything that seems interesting and saleable. When you come to make your daily pitch, just pick the best idea from the current crop and pitch it. That way pitching doesnít become a creative process subject to the usual blocks and anxiety of writing. Also get in the habit of tearing out interesting pages from magazines as you read them. Go to trade shows and conferences. Chum up to companies in your field and PR firms and get on their lists. Cultivate good sources.
Organising your work and coping with deadlines

Most business professionals shouldnít have a problem with this, but donít be fooled into thinking that a freelance writer lives in a mound of creative chaos and thrives on late nights, whiskey and hand rolled cigarettes. Prussian efficiency is required to make freelance journalism pay. Youíll need:

NaijaSky

Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2018, 03:25:48 AM »

Offline Isaac Adeniran

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2018, 03:29:14 AM »
In, out and pending trays
    A way of storing ongoing stories with all their bumf Ė I use foolscap plastic folders. Once the story is done, the whole folder can be archived away easily.
    Good financial systems for invoicing, tracking expenses etc. www.bcentral.co.uk and Business Link are useful resources for the business side of writing.
    A to-do list, preferably electronic, preferably synchronised into a PDA.
    A diary. Ditto.
    Get a hands-free headset for your landline phone to keep your hands free for interviews. I use Plantronics.
    A notebook. Some people like Moleskine. Some people like very cheap reporters spiral bound notebooks. I use a slimline Filofax so I can constantly file out notes into the ongoing story folders.

To avoid going crazy, you need to plan your time. Books like 7 Habits of Highly Effective People can be useful in starting to think about this stuff if it is new to you. Otherwise a bit of planning and thought are required to adapt what you already know to the job of writing. I use:

    An annual business plan
    A monthly personal development plan and at least one or two days a month allocated to self-development, e.g. training or thinking about new stuff

NaijaSky

Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2018, 03:29:14 AM »

Offline Isaac Adeniran

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2018, 03:32:14 AM »
Every week I sit down and plan my work Ė this afternoon for interviews and research, that day for writing, this other day to finish that column. Big chunks of time dedicated to a single task is the way I get stuff done because I procrastinate and I need time in which to do it (for instance, Iím on deadline for a feature as I write this!)
    Read my article: 22 Ways to stay focused for tips on concentration.
    A day a month at least to long-term marketing, e.g. relationship building with new prospective clients.
    In my to-do list I have a list of current assignments, with their deadlines and urgency. I keep them in a separate category so I can always see exactly whatís on the slate. This helps me allocate time to the urgent stuff. NEVER miss a deadline. NEVER. The way to avoid this is planning ahead and allocating enough time to the article early enough.

NaijaSky

Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2018, 03:32:14 AM »

Offline Isaac Adeniran

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2018, 03:33:59 AM »
Writerís Block and Editing

One good way of coping with writerís block is to do lots of research and lots of interviews. Then just arrange the good bits of research and the good bits of an interview into an order that seems to make sense and then prťcis it, leaving the very best quotes and stats in place. Itís easy to generate quantity, let the quality come out in the editing. Better to chuck out 4,000 words quickly and edit down to 1,500 than struggle to write 1,500 but hope that each word is perfect. The book ďThe Artistís WayĒ is very good on writerís block.

One tip: I like to finish the article a day or two early and then do something else. Coming back to a piece after a break is very healthy. It gets rid of word blindness and makes it easier to do drastic reconstructive surgery if it is needed.

Another tip: I get my partner to read my articles to see if they make sense and Iíve explained everything. Since she knows nothing about business, technology or planes she can quickly spot anything Iíve missed or assume the reader knows.

Final tip: edit from the back to the front. Read the final version slowly OUT LOUD before you send it in. I find at least one howler every time I do this, even though I think Iíve finished the piece.

NaijaSky

Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2018, 03:33:59 AM »

Offline Isaac Adeniran

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2018, 03:35:13 AM »
Business issues

Donít forget youíre running a business. You need to get the finances right, market yourself, actually sell your work and collect the money. VAT and PAYE taxes need to be sorted out and there is some paperwork to do to become self-employed. There are good books on starting a business, lots of practical support online and from quangos like Business Link. In my (limited) experiences one-man businesses typically fail because:

    They over-rely on one client or one stream of work
    They totally fail to market or sell themselves, expecting clients to find them (although existing clients are your best marketing resource Ė most of my corporate work comes from recommendations).
    They fail to manage their cash properly and spend too much and earn too little. It takes time to build up a freelance practice Ė two or three years at least Ė so you need other means of support.

NaijaSky

Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2018, 03:35:13 AM »
Solo Build It!

Offline Isaac Adeniran

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2018, 03:36:28 AM »
Ethics, diligence and fact-checking

Here are the guidelines from Business 2.0, an American magazine I wrote for occasionally. They are good guidelines even if you are writing for a less scrupulous magazine. One day youíll be able to blow an editor away by the authoritativeness of your research. Itís happened to me a few times and Iíve confounded PR companies and editors to my great credit! (However, you donít need to send in annotated versions of your articles to most magazines Ė only do it if they ask). I tend to take contemporaneous written notes, typed transcript or voice recordings of all my interviews. I use templates for interview transcripts that remind me to take a note of the name, title and contact details for everyone I interview. Check my article: What's the source for more on this.


NaijaSky

Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2018, 03:36:28 AM »

Offline Isaac Adeniran

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2018, 03:39:57 AM »
FACT -CHECKING GUIDELINES FOR FREELANCE WRITERS

    Our goal is for Business 2.0, and for your writing, to be the most authoritative business journalism around. As a compliment [sic] to your careful work, all articles accepted for publication are checked for accuracy, timeliness, clarity, and context. Because facts and assertions must be verifiable, we will need to see your published sources and speak with your live sources. Please tell people you interview to expect a call from a fact-checker.

    Here are the three types of fact-checking materials we require:

    1) Copies of key research documents

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2018, 03:39:57 AM »

Offline Isaac Adeniran

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2018, 03:42:15 AM »
Every fact must be verifiable from a primary source. The primary source for a given fact is the source that originally generated that piece of information, or one that is able and authorized to report on that information firsthand. Common primary sources can include live experts, company literature, analyst reports, reference books, government agencies, and official organization Websites. Please give us printouts (and the URL) of any Web page you're relying on as a primary source (Sites change and disappear).

    We don't accept popular publications such as magazines or newspapers as primary sources; even back issues of Business 2.0 and Fortune are not gospel. Popular books may be used to confirm the book-author's one-time stated opinion. Please have at least one verifiable primary source person or publication-before including any fact in a story. Details that can't be verified by at least one primary source will be deleted.

    Please include any newspaper or magazine articles, Website URLs, or any other material you feel would be useful as background for the editor or fact-checker, or as resources for our online readers. If a great interview was cut back in the magazine, our Web team may still be able to use information from your notes or transcripts online. We place these background materials in our files, so please make copies of anything you want to keep.

NaijaSky

Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2018, 03:42:15 AM »

Offline Isaac Adeniran

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2018, 03:43:53 AM »
 2) A list of live sources

    Please include an independent list with the full name, title, mailing address, and e-mail, phone, and fax of every person cited in your story .We also need the phone, e-mail, and URL for each company or organization that garners more than passing mention. Also please provide us with your own street address, e-mail, phone, and fax. If your editor has agreed to change the name of a person in your story, we still need to check back with that person; please send the real name and phone number of every live person cited in your story .In special cases we may ask for interview notes, tapes, or transcripts.

    3) An annotated copy of your story

    Every fact and assertion in your story must have an identifiable source. Effective methods of annotation include using traditional footnotes or writing the names of live sources-as well as the titles and page numbers of written sources-in the margins beside each fact or factual section in the story. Your editor may want you to annotate your first draft or may have you wait and mark up a subsequent version of the story. Check with your editor before you annotate, or you may have to repeat the task on a later version.

NaijaSky

Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2018, 03:43:53 AM »

Offline Isaac Adeniran

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Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2018, 03:45:09 AM »
Develop a sense of humour

Being a journalist is an honourable and important profession but in the eyes of the general public, weíre down there with estate agents and politicians. I always get an ironic laugh when I tell people ĎIím a journalist so Iím interested in truth, beauty and justice.í Mostly, I tell them Iím an accountant.

NaijaSky

Re: How to make money as a freelance journalist
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2018, 03:45:09 AM »


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