Freelancing as a journalist can be a more rewarding experience than working full time for an employer. In the Internet age, there's an abundance of freelance journalist jobs available. Here are some things you need to know if you want to branch out into a freelancing journalism career.
Where are the Jobs?
The short answer is that the jobs are online. Type in "freelance journalist jobs" in any search engine, and you'll be on the right track. The most popular sites that come up in the top of the search engine will also have the most competition (and possibly the lowest pay rates). If you're serious about making a living as a freelance journalist, you might want to consider paying for access to a freelance job site. The paid sites are for more serious professionals, and can weed out some of the competition (more on this later). Some examples of websites where journalists can find work include www.eLance.com, www.freelancewritinggigs.com, www.journalismjobs.com and www.mediabistro.com. The annual Writer's Market publication can also be a great source of trade magazines that have freelance projects for journalists.
Pay Rates for Freelance Journalists
Once a freelancer has established a good relationship with an editor at a reputable publication, they can sometimes earn up to a dollar per word or more. That works out to an annual salary of $35,000 to $40,000 per year, as long as you have a steady stream of assignments. It takes time, hard labor and a well-established relationships with several publications to work up to that kind of pay rate. In the early days of your career, you can expect payments more in the range of 5 cents per word, until you establish more publishing credits.
How the Process Works
Your first task is to pitch a compelling story idea to an editor. Let him know what the idea is, how soon you can complete it, how many words you expect the story to be and any incidental expenses such as research or travel costs. You'll be given a deadline to complete a draft of the story, allowing time for any rewrites before publication. A story can go back and forth between the editor and the freelance journalist two or more times before the final draft is completed. Some publishers pay on acceptance of the story, half up front and half on completion. They may offer a "kill rate" incase they decide not to publish the story.
Pros and Cons of Freelance Journalism
You get to be your own employer, work your own hours and take on the types of assignments you want. With time, you can build up a freelance journalism career that actually pays more than a traditional job in a newsroom. On the other hand, you have to pay for your own insurance and benefits. You also have to market yourself, manage the books and keep yourself motivated every day. Another big downside is that some freelancers take lower paying jobs out of desperation, and that deflates salaries for everyone in the industry.
Freelance journalist jobs are a great way to have a journalism career and work at home. The key is to treat it as a business, and market yourself to editors and news sites.
Daphne Mallory, Esq. is the co-owner of Mallory Writing Services and has written more than 100 articles helping home based business owners and entrepreneurs start and market their business. You can learn more about her here.