Working as a freelance journalist is a great job. You get to work flexible hours and receive great pay to write about interesting and important news stories in industries that really interest you. If you are like many freelance journalists, however, you may not be getting all the gigs you want. Fortunately, you can use these five tips for getting gigs as a freelance journalist.
1. Develop a great portfolio and website
Create a website and portfolio that sets you apart from the crowd as a freelance journalist. Your site and portfolio must contain contact information, relevant work history, samples and, ideally, your pay range. Be sure to add information about any honors or awards you have received or prestigious gigs that you have landed. Always provide plenty of ways for clients to contact and hire you. You want to impress prospective clients quickly then make it easy to pay you.
2. Create a network of people
Start a list of contacts – people you have worked for and worked with. Stay in contact with previous employers who may hire you for future work. Develop a network of freelance journalists to get inside information on which publications may be hiring. Your good reputation among co-workers and previous employers may serve you well in those dark days when cold calling fails.
3. Cultivate a network of sources
A journalist is only as good as her sources. Assemble a network of reliable sources that consistently provide up-to-date information. Foster relationships with people directly connected to the industries you cover so they can alert you to late-breaking news and hook you up with qualified experts to interview.
4. Create an idea file
Unlike a staff writer who receives most of his assignments from editors, a freelance journalist is usually responsible for coming up with great article ideas. Compile a list of suggestions, along with story sources, to pitch to prospective publications. An idea file is especially helpful when an editor asks for story ideas or when a publishing company turns down a pitch and requests another.
5. Research potential publications
Before you send out query letter, research the publication to determine its voice and target audience. Learn if the publishing company has any political, religious, or social interests.
To climb the ladder of success, start with local publications and work your way up to larger companies. Find out if the publication has any professional organizations and affiliations with which you can associate yourself.
Before you send a query, learn everything you can about the editor at your target publication. Adapt your query to his publishing style, if possible. When you contact an editor, be sure to detail your experience as a freelance journalist and explain why you wish to work with that publication. The information you gathered will help you tailor your query in a way that improves your chances of landing the gig.
Being a freelance journalist is a great job that provides great pay and a flexible schedule, but many people do not have the skills they need to land jobs as a freelance journalist. Follow these five steps and you will get more freelance journalist gigs than you can handle.
Lynn H is a freelance writer available for projects at WriterAccess.