The world of freelance journalism presents many avenues of writing. From presenting the facts of recent news stories to conducting interviews that reveal corporate secrets to reviewing a recent publication, as a freelance journalist you will enjoy the freedom that comes with researching topics that interest you.
Journalism refers to the collection and presentation of news or information. As a journalist, you will gather information, assess its validity and truth, organize the facts into a favorable article, and then present it to the public.
When you choose to become a freelance journalist, you will sell your work independently rather than working on a salaried basis for an employer. You may charge by the hour, by the project, or based on other relevant factors and you may work for several different clients simultaneously. This gives you the opportunity to choose topics you enjoy and sell them to a variety of sources.
From straightforward news stories to the in-depth digging required of investigative journalists, there are many different types of journalism to explore:
News stories--These are very straightforward assignments. They simply relay the facts surrounding recent local, national or international events. The writing is meant to be unbiased, accurate and straightforward.
Investigative journalism--These articles uncover little-known truth about a person or event. Your investigation may reveal hidden scandal around significant, but covered situations. In many ways, investigative stories are considered the hardest in the freelance world.
Feature writing--These articles are designed to be front-page material. Your work will interpret trends, topics, events, or people while striving to provide depth and a wide scope to your piece.
Reviews--Designed to present opinion as well as the facts on a subject, these pieces offer an intelligent, informed, and well-organized presentation of your ideas.
Columns--Because columns are subject to personal writing style, columnists often gain a loyal reading audience. This avenue of written expression gives you a lot of freedom since you can filter events through your own experience and opinions.
Photojournalism--photojournalists are visual reporters, sharing their stories and experiences through skillful digital and/or print photography.
While freelance journalists may seem to have the freedom to write on whatever topics strike their fancy, it’s not always that easy. In fact, at times, freelancing can be an incredibly tough gig – especially when you’re first getting started.
Before jumping out into the big world of writing, some training will help you get started on the right path. A variety of sources offer courses in writing as well as other topics of special interest, including:
Professional and ethical standards--You must understand and follow the accepted rules and guidelines for professionalism within the industry.
Contracts and journalists rates--Setting rates isn’t easy. You will need to learn what the upper and lower limits for project rates should be, and where your work should fall on that spectrum.
Safety, security and insurance—It is important to take some precautions to protect yourself when you step into the world of journalism, and that starts with knowing where to find the right information about security and insurance.
Legal considerations--Sometimes the nature of journalism can open you up to lawsuits. Make sure all your legal interests are covered to protect yourself if someone tries to take legal action.
Social media presents a whole new world to you as a freelance journalist. Likes, shares, and tweets are essential for gaining recognition, so it’s important that you work on developing a social media presence.
Interaction in social media venues is a requirement for your success in freelance journalism. Simply churning out well-researched, quality content will not be enough. In order for that content to be seen, you must be in tune with the interests and social activity of readers.
No matter what field you choose to enter, as a talented freelance journalist you can enjoy the freedom of pursuing interesting projects at your own pace.