I’ve always pictured myself as a journalist with a staff job. That is, working ON a magazine, feeling the buzz of the office and helping out on the production and media aspects that go along with it. I haven’t really thought about freelancing, as although I would enjoy the writing itself, I don’t know if it would be as motivating as working on the publication.
Speaking to some of the lecturers on my NCTJ who themselves are freelancers, it seems that this is the way to go for many after they have finished a journalism course or to begin their career. I don’t think I could rule out freelancing, as at the end of the day it is still writing, having a byline, researching and being a journalist. As part of my portfolio, I have been writing to publications pitching ideas for freelancing (unfortunately not getting paid for all!) to try and increase the amount of published work I have. When doing this, there have been a lot of points that have occurred to me about freelancing.
This is by no means a blog post from experience, but some pointers which I think should be taken into account when freelancing.
Know the publication
I think a bad way to go about it, is to think of your article idea before deciding what magazines you are going to pitch it too. Magazines have very specific styles, topics covered and language used. An article idea may be really unique, but not match to the magazine you have chosen at all. Read the magazine over, get a feel of the articles they are writing and maybe things that are missing.
Before you write the article you will have to pitch the idea. I think when doing this, you need to make it as detailed as possible so the editor understands your exact angle and where you are coming from. Vague pitches may be dismissed of purely because they haven’t been given enough information and they don’t understand the real route of the story.
Have faith in your idea, present it well and give reasons as to why it will be suitable for their magazine? Avoid ‘it may not be for your magazine’ phrases that pose negativity on the pitch but tell them why it is great and why people should or even need to read about it.
Be friendly, chatty, and try and develop a rapport with this person because if they like your pitch, you meet your deadline and it is published, they are likely to come back for more articles in the future.
Now is probably a good idea to take my own advice and start building on this portfolio…