How to be a freelance journalist

Picture of an old-style reporterThis post contains advice for anyone considering a career as a freelance journalist. I was a freelancer for five years, writing for Wired, Popular Science and some UK business magazines. You can see a list of most of my journalism on my personal site. Now I am writer in chief at Articulate Marketing and I wrote this article before I stopped freelancing several years ago. Don’t take it all too seriously: it may be wrong or out of date and your mileage may vary.

Assumptions

  • You’re not already a professional writer but a regular person looking to become a writer.
  • Journalism won’t (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.

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. It’s 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.
  • Study different magazines’ 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 President’s 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 don’t spend a bunch of money unless you can spare it.

Finding a subject

It’s 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 doesn’t matter whether it is chicken farming or tribal politics in Mongolia, there’ll 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 – the stuff I know and love. You’ll do better as a freelance journalist if you specialise.

What to charge

The NUJ has a ‘Rate for the Job’ 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 ‘rate per thousand words’. 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.

  • Daily pitch – this is key. If you send out 240 (or even 365) pitches a year, and you get a 10% response rate you’ll get a reasonable amount of work. But send something EVERY day, even if you’re 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 don’t remember you.
  • Study the publication before making the pitch
  • Don’t 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.
  • Sources of possible clients: Mediabank CD-ROM at library, Writers and Artists’ Handbook. Visit WH Smiths.
  • See my article: 27 Proven freelance marketing tips.

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 doesn’t 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 shouldn’t have a problem with this, but don’t 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. You’ll need:

  • In, out and pending trays
  • A way of storing ongoing stories with all their bumf – 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
  • Every week I sit down and plan my work – 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, I’m 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 what’s 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.

Writer’s Block and Editing

One good way of coping with writer’s 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 précis it, leaving the very best quotes and stats in place. It’s 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 “The Artist’s Way” is very good on writer’s 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 I’ve explained everything. Since she knows nothing about business, technology or planes she can quickly spot anything I’ve 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 I’ve finished the piece.

Business issues

Don’t forget you’re 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 – 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 – two or three years at least – so you need other means of support.

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 you’ll be able to blow an editor away by the authoritativeness of your research. It’s happened to me a few times and I’ve confounded PR companies and editors to my great credit! (However, you don’t need to send in annotated versions of your articles to most magazines – 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.

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

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.

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.

Develop a sense of humour

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

Useful websites and bibliography

Links are to reviews on this site.

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121 Responses to How to be a freelance journalist

  1. jody January 31, 2007 at 3:49 pm #

    > this document took me 35m to write

    Holy moly! It would’ve taken me at LEAST an hour.

    Informative post. Thanks.

  2. Matthew Stibbe January 31, 2007 at 4:28 pm #

    I think I may have mentioned that I was taught to type by ferocious nuns. I type like a repetent sinner with chest pains.

  3. tiantian February 2, 2007 at 4:06 pm #

    Thanks Matthew, for reminding me why I always wanted and still want to be a journalist. And for bringing me back to the basics….
    tiantian

  4. gail February 3, 2007 at 12:13 am #

    Matthew – you are my hero, the wind beneath my wings. This is absolutely brilliant and amazingly concise. I am saving this one!

    Gail

  5. Steve K. February 3, 2007 at 1:41 am #

    Shouldn’t “As a compliment to your careful work…” be “As a complement to your careful work…”?

    Otherwise this is a useful and practical guide to freelance journalism.

  6. Ole February 3, 2007 at 1:51 am #

    35 Minutes for a 2,200 word document including the research, links and formatting? That’s about 1 word/second – which in my opinion is not pissible unless you almost rewrite a draft. Am I wrong?

    Nice Blog by the way ;-)

    Cheers
    Ole

  7. Matthew Stibbe February 3, 2007 at 8:29 am #

    You’re right it should be complement not compliment. Typo. Good spot. Thanks.

    I spent a bit more time preparing this for the blog but the original text (which I wrote for a friend) really did take me 35m to type, straight from the top of my head. I guess that’s one reason why there are so many typos!

    Matthew

  8. Matthew Stibbe February 3, 2007 at 8:31 am #

    I just went back checked for ‘compliment’ / ‘complement’ and I realise that the typo is in the verbatim text from Business 2.0′s guide to fact-checking. I’m enjoying the irony.

  9. Amit February 3, 2007 at 5:46 pm #

    what about pitches? do you wite a brief summary of the article or do you send out just the idea?

  10. Matthew Stibbe February 3, 2007 at 6:05 pm #

    Writing to Deadline, the book I refer to in the post, has a good section on how to write a pitch. Generally, I found that if I could write a good one-sentence description of the story, pitches tended not to succeed. Of course, you need more than that but editors have limited attention spans!

  11. Chris February 3, 2007 at 6:40 pm #

    Thank you, Matthew!
    So many good strategies!

  12. Rob Artisan February 18, 2007 at 12:40 pm #

    Interesting and insightful. As with my articles I will be re-reading your comments as they are key issues for my success

  13. Brian Westover February 22, 2007 at 8:09 pm #

    This is one of the best articles I’ve seen on the topic. Oh, if only every rookie could read this!

  14. Kayla March 31, 2007 at 2:01 am #

    I enjoyed your tips and such although being the spelling and grammar nerd that I am I noticed a few typos lol

    Thanks for the inspiration.
    ~Kayla

  15. luke willis May 10, 2007 at 4:36 pm #

    hello men I am doing a project on journalism and would be very thankful to get information from you thank you and have a nice day.

  16. jennifer June 6, 2007 at 11:59 am #

    Great tips ! I found them very helpful and am going to use every one of them.

  17. YAQUB FAREEDUDDIN August 19, 2007 at 7:58 pm #

    sir.
    plse advise me i have an apportunity to work for a local news paper here in belgium. Though i can speak good english and write also but i feeel that i am not enough for that job bcoz i am not perfect in english grammer. so do advice me any soft were which can check my grammatical mistakes in my notes. if u know such software which can help me plse advice i will be thankfull to u.

    Thanking u sir,

    yaqub fareeduddin.
    Antwerpen
    Belgium.

  18. aravind September 1, 2007 at 3:27 pm #

    Grt tips MAtt… Thanks for them….u rekindled the journalistic fire in me

  19. A.G BRI GANDHI September 6, 2007 at 7:10 pm #

    my motivation to be a journalist have remain consistence for the past yrs.Help me realize this dream.I will need a school in your country.I a Ghanaian.i seat for newspapers discussions in radio stations and will like to build upon that.Please help. tel ;0233 0838 18 16.

  20. RUPALI October 16, 2007 at 8:50 am #

    Matts thanks a lot for reminding me that i want to be a journalist & yes i can be now…………….

  21. Tom Sullivan October 22, 2007 at 5:48 am #

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I’m still in college but I am going to be a freelance journalist when I’m done and I plan on following these principles and reading all the books on your list. It is gracious of you to share with your future competition, but I’ll be in America so I guess I’ll have to spice up our uptight media with a little bit of that British wit I can learn from you guys across the pond. Thanks again

  22. Fatima S. October 23, 2007 at 3:10 am #

    Hi, I am a freshman in college who is taking steps towards being the next fashion journalist. Your article was very inspirational, but also opened my eyes up to what challenges the world holds for me.
    Please feel free to check out my fashion blog, and yes comments are appreciated =]

    http://www.TheNextFashionista.Blogspot.com
    Thankyou,
    Fatima S.

  23. Tricia Scruggs January 5, 2008 at 5:00 am #

    Matthew,
    Wonderfully informative and helpful! Wish I had run across this post months ago. Thanks for sharing/spreading your wisdom!

  24. kdollarsign January 28, 2008 at 6:27 pm #

    Great information. Can I not de*lic*ious?

  25. Ms.A February 11, 2008 at 6:58 pm #

    This absolutely EXCELLENT. I like your sense of humor and professionalism. I can use your advice.

    I emailed editors to a magazine, just looking for writing opportunities to build up my resume. I’m a college senior, planning to graduate this May. Anyways, they suggest free lance work.

    And I think “$$$?! Gee sure whatever. I can do that. Why not I have 5 years experience print journalism. ”

    Besides journalism is so much fun. Sorry for flooding your wall.

    Thanks again.

  26. Ed Oldfield February 24, 2008 at 11:04 pm #

    Hi – Loads of good advice here. Realistic about the perils and pitfalls of freelancing, but full of fire and passion, like the best writing. Any would-be hacks can go to be journalism training website, at http://www.beajournalist.talktalk.net, also available via http://www.beajournalist.co.uk . Find an angle, get writing, and follow your dream!

  27. Ed Oldfield February 24, 2008 at 11:07 pm #

    For more journalism ideas, hints and tips, go to http://www.beajournalist.co.uk and http://www.beajournalist.talktalk.net

  28. Mehmudah March 10, 2008 at 11:05 am #

    wow! what a piece of work! i have no idea what to write on just now… its eating me up. i think this article will help thanks

  29. Jeninova Lamagon April 17, 2008 at 6:16 am #

    your writings and suggestions are somehow right but normally others are interested too to become a freelace writer to experience what is really in that kind of endeavor.
    mine too would even want to be a freelance wrieter but i dont know how could i start considering that i dont have website even.

  30. Topher August 19, 2008 at 2:36 am #

    Quite helpful.

  31. Kaleb Forrest November 25, 2008 at 10:48 pm #

    I am very excited about becoming a freelance journalist. This site helped me a great deal in what to do to get started. I have always read and written much more than most my age, and I never knew where to go or what to do after that. And nobody–not even the school guidance councelor–has been of a lot of help. Great tips.
    Thanks,
    Kaleb Forrest
    A senior at Wesson Attendance Center
    Wesson, Mississippi

  32. Oy December 7, 2008 at 3:37 am #

    You wrote this in 35 minutes? You read 30 magazines a week and buy five new ones every time you fly? You watch journalism movies?

    You’re really blowing some serious smoke up our arses, eh?

  33. Amy Figueroa March 1, 2009 at 7:04 am #

    Well I’m a freshman in college, and just trying to sort out life. Which of course, includes … hell, what do I want to do with my time after I graduate?! It’s so difficult to put all of your interests into one career path. What is society trying to do to us! It’s so confining…
    So I began to think of pursuing a communication major… and thought about the freedom of travel (which I would love). Wha-la! Journalism. I came across this website and … well, the whole prospect of freelance journalism is intriguing. I just thought that I’d like to mention, that for just glancing over this occupation, this website seemed to give great insight and helpful tips of what to expect if I were to decide on this…. so thank you!

  34. Janine March 5, 2009 at 8:00 am #

    Hi, my passion is to be a Freelance Journalist, I am very interested in Hard News Journalism, I want in my spare time to source stories which might be interesting to the general population in my country, like issues that may affect them in terms of violence and drug abuse etc… Does anyone know how i can then approach say Newspapers with my story? Thanks

  35. Anne Wayman April 23, 2009 at 2:41 pm #

    Wonderful… I love it when other writers spell out so exactly what needs be done. I’m not a journalist. I’ve done some, but never very much… instead I’m much more of a top-of-the head type writer (hack) and ghostwriter so our methods differ somewhat. But it’s amazing how close our techniques are given the differences.

    Also amazed that the Brits are less fussy than we Yanks… the things you learn.

    Finally, Matthew, you know this article would make an excellent and salable ebook or, expanded book book… but please leave this up long enough for me to post about it.

    Anne Wayman, now blogging at http://www.aboutfreelancewiting.com

    • Matthew Stibbe April 23, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

      I know I ought to do some e-books or something but it’s all about time. Also, Kevin Rose (Digg’s Kevin Rose!) dugg this post and I don’t have the heart to take it offline now. I am working, very intermittently, on a book about writing but everytime I add more words to it I think up a completely new direction for the whole thing and have to start again.

  36. Omar April 23, 2009 at 9:44 pm #

    What a wealth of information? It’s very thoughtful of you to write this post. So many tips and advice. Engaging and imperative.

  37. Stephen Doxakis May 11, 2009 at 7:42 pm #

    I am a retired criminal defense lawyer who was forced to leave my career because of complications associated with being exposed to “Agent Orange” during my tour of duty in 1968-1969. However, I need to get back to work doing something that does not require me to be obligated to a desk or court every day. Freelancing may be the opportunity that I am looking for. Thanks for the information.

    Stephen

  38. Jeffrey L. Hutchison May 22, 2009 at 6:02 pm #

    I am starting to take my first steps in the direction of being a motorcycle race correspondent. I am 49yrs. old and have raced most of my life. I returned to school and am honing in on some writing skills,such as I lack, and am interested in taking my life in a new direction concerning racing. I would like to learn how to freelance photos and stories of some of the races I attend. Any information or help in any capacity would be great !! I have raised three sons as a single parent and now that they are grown I am trying to reclaim some of my own personal dreams!!!

    • Matthew Stibbe May 23, 2009 at 8:55 am #

      Hi Jeffrey, good for you. Writing and photographing sports is a great niche and I’m sure you’ll succeed if you apply yourself. Raising three sons alone is a tremendous achievement and it shows what you can achieve when you do something you love. Good luck! Matthew

  39. Yolanda Morris June 1, 2009 at 2:56 am #

    This was an excellent read! I’m guilty for not keeping abreast on what’s making news in the niches I write on/specialize in. It’s not that I totally neglect them, but I do tend to make excuses for not diligently keeping myself informed. I guess now would be the time to help the Girl Scout’s and the print industry as a whole out and subscribe to a few magazines.

    …If you have some sort of plugin on your blog that tracks individual user stats you’d know that I’ve been reading your posts for about an hour now, and this is yet another one that hasn’t disappointed me yet.

    My hat goes off to you Matthew. =)

  40. A.M August 4, 2009 at 11:58 am #

    wonderful tips, I just loved them!
    this is a very helpful article, it covers a lot and it has really motivated me.
    thanks,
    A.M

  41. shri paul sharma September 10, 2009 at 5:37 am #

    It has been seen that nobody tells his tips openly but youhave written it for all Thanks

  42. shri paul sharma September 10, 2009 at 5:38 am #

    It is a good article .

  43. J October 9, 2009 at 7:43 pm #

    This info is fantastic. Thank you so much. I’ve just done the NCTJ newspaper course and the prospects for graduates is dire to say the least…and freelancing is looking more and more attractive…so thank you. Best advice for freelancers I’ve come across so far!

  44. Sarah October 16, 2009 at 11:59 am #

    This is a great article. Very informative. I am just starting out as a journalism student and have found it very helpful.

    Thanks!

    Sarah

  45. shahid paracha November 27, 2009 at 9:27 pm #

    I am very excited about becoming a freelance journalist.Being a journalist is an honourable and important profession but in the eyes of the general public, we’re down there with estate agents and politicians. I always get an ironic laugh when I tell people ‘I’m a journalist so I’m interested in truth, beauty and justice.’

  46. Meke January 10, 2010 at 7:28 pm #

    Your article is where I began my research in becoming a free lance writer. I was so impressed with your information that I feel even more confidant in my pursuit of a writing career. It was concise, easy to follow and included the basics that I need to get started. I have had many people ask me over the years to somehow get my research published and now I am going to do just that. Thank you!!
    PS. I love the movie All The President’s Men.

  47. ayo bankole February 6, 2010 at 1:46 pm #

    terrific! a great man is one who helps others in becoming great. you’re sure one of such I’ve ever met. looking forward to hear more from you.

  48. Writers Guide March 23, 2010 at 2:48 am #

    WOW. its great to find some decent information about freelancing work for journalsists, Ive been trying to help people with their writing for a few months now and it has taken me ages to find some good well witten information on the subject. Thanks.

    • Matthew Stibbe March 23, 2010 at 6:51 am #

      Glad you like it and I hope it helps you and perhaps some of your readers. Matthew

  49. Charles Del Campo April 11, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

    Excellent web site to share common interest in freelance journalism. As an author and radio-television personality in the Hispanic community, I never had anyone to assist me in my news coverage. All based on trial and errors which eventually landed me my own gig. Perseverance is a key factor in overcoming all the obstacles.
    .-= Charles Del Campo´s last blog ..Charles Del Campo – Iraq =-.

  50. Basi May 3, 2010 at 11:21 am #

    Nice, interesting and very effective….

  51. candia john July 16, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    I am privileged to chance upon such reading material as this,i had never known i had what it takes to be a writer or a freelancer until a friend advised me to give it a try,your articles have even encouraged me the more.Thanks a lot and God bless you! Mathew
    my blog is http://candiajohn.blogspot.com/

  52. OUPA FREDERICK NXUMALO August 28, 2010 at 7:51 am #

    I am sure there is nothing that can be more than a journalist, that is why I like this career. I would like to become a journalist one day.

  53. Leslie Augustine September 16, 2010 at 6:13 am #

    Really inspiring …Here he proved that he is a good writer.

  54. Jessica October 5, 2010 at 4:59 am #

    Thank you! Typical journalist, straight forward and relevant, exactly what I needed–a tangible place to start. I’m off to read 100 articles before bed.

  55. Thomson George February 10, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    hey mathew i really appreciate what you have written, and I do personally admire your facts you have written as it all relates or comes under in journalism …
    i had a tough time to convince my parents that i need to pursue on journalism but they thought that this wasn’t a career but a waste of my money and time …
    here is a website of a christian magazine which i have started … and by the grace of God it is flourishing very well … do take a look

    and if there is any chance to meet you personally it will be honor for me …

  56. Dhanush March 8, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    I have the god gifted power on analising on every current /old topics (includes social,cultural, political) to the depth and their future predictions.My principle is do every thing whatever you like with honesty/complete perfection/concentration and it should be in the interest of betterment of humanity as whole.Wanted to devote my life for the unawared/poor peoples.But till date not having moral support/guidence to fullfill my honest dreams/responsibility to do some thing for them in responce to giving thanks to god for giving me a birth of a humanbeing.I want to die as a rememberece in the people like Viveka Nanad,and Mahatma Gandhi.My drafting is very poor,needs Sincere GUIDE to become freelance journalist in the interest of humanity.Can you help me in the matter,if yes i shall be ever thankfull to you.Regards.

  57. Hari March 22, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    Its really interesting.Iam doing my Law course apart from my regular marketing job.Due to an accident Iam forced to take bed rest for atleast 2 months.I have been always intrested in Journalism and the challenges involve though I know very little.This article has created a new intrest and definate guidelines to be agood journalist.

    Thank you this is my first reading towards my effort to become one.

  58. Kristi April 5, 2011 at 12:30 pm #

    Matthew,

    I started a weekly publication, at my current place of business about 2 months ago. What began as an idea of a weekly newsletter, quickly took on a life of its own, and now has the format of a weekly 8 page newspaper. I write and edit every article in the paper and so far have not run out of ideas. I love what I am doing, and have gotten amazing feedback on my writing. In fact, I was told I should become a freelance journalist; an occupation I had never considered before.
    I decided today, I would google the words freelance and journalist and am so pleased that I stumbled upon this site! I learned more in the past 20 minutes about journalism than I could have hoped! Because of your words, I have decided this is exactly the path I would like to take in my life.
    I am terribly grateful for you sharing your knowledge and can only hope to follow your advice closely enough that I too will be successful in this journey.

    Sincerest regards,
    Kristi

  59. maym May 7, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

    hello i want to inform common non technical people about highly technical stuff in easy form. I am a final year electrical engineering student and i want to share my thoughts with people as well as earn some bucks. But i am not getting any starting point. I think this article could give me a good start. Thsnk you.

  60. Juliet Findlay May 24, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

    Hi
    My sister suggested that i have a look at this website.I found it very
    interesting.It could be very useful to me.I may just be a citizen journalist because i live the most fascinating city.There would be plenty to write about.

  61. Business Directory June 5, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    Thank you for this! It was really big help!

  62. Heinrich Reisner June 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    Mr. Stibbe,

    Thank you.

    ~HR

  63. Heinrich Reisner June 7, 2011 at 3:28 pm #

    Mr. Stibbe,

    May I offer you my deepest sincerity concerning not only the assertion of my laudation and thanks for the information above, but also in my frusteration over a sweet, curt ‘Thank you’ being apparently ‘too short’ for your captcha.

    ~HR

  64. shanu akram July 16, 2011 at 8:50 am #

    hai sir,
    I would like to become a journalist, i know the road to my aim is tougher than i think, but i have the confidents- i can, i will, i must.
    My confusions are at the starting point, i love reading articles about politics and international affaires.my knowledge in journalism does’nt worth a penny. here on reading your article the way to my aim becomes more broader.may it help me to analyse my social surroundings more critically
    i am thankful to you for this article.

  65. freelance writer July 19, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    I think the most important thing that can be taken from this article is that a successful freelance career requires careful planning. You can’t just “wing” it. Sure you will learn as you go and continue to improve, but you have to have some sort of plan or vision or else you are only going to be spinning your wheels.

  66. Jared Kimball July 25, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    Absolutely fascinating! This is the kind of stuff I’ve been looking for. Thanks for all the pointers and tips. I’ll be sure to put them to use.

  67. Chris Murray August 9, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    These are some good tips for the beginner. While a little broad, it offers some valuable information for a young journalist to think about.

  68. Emil September 13, 2011 at 1:23 pm #

    Hi all, thanks to Matthew for an excellent blog. I was wondering if anyone know of other good sites for freelancers? Maybe a forum for sharing experiences?

  69. thabang October 19, 2011 at 10:14 am #

    Good staff. This is really inspirational. I had given up on writing when i was attacked sometime ago covering an event. I lost everything, camera, phone, laptop…but this article has given me another breathe of life in writing and journalism. I thank you.

  70. Siam Sarower Jamil December 2, 2011 at 7:46 am #

    Exellent blog ! Thanks to mathew for writting a good article on journalism . Hope it will be help to young journalist for their future career . I am really impressed. Thank you.

  71. Hyunjin Kim December 11, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    Wow. It’s really helpful.
    Your recommendation made me more want to be a free-lance journalist.
    And I’ve got courage from your text. Thanks for your nice information!

  72. Dr. Habib ur Rehman Abid Jamil January 29, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    Matthew .
    You were the kick I needed to rol on and get started ,
    Thanks and God Bless,
    Habib

  73. koutsompolia February 13, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    It’s not an easy task to become succesfull freelance journalist. There is a lot of competition and some people work for a few dollars.

  74. Bernie May 18, 2012 at 9:10 pm #

    Great advice, Mr. Stibbe. A quick question to you or commentors about copyrighting. Is having dated personal copies of your work sufficient for protecting it?

    • Matthew Stibbe May 19, 2012 at 8:54 am #

      Copyright law varies from country to country and I’m not a lawyer so I hesitate to give advice. I was once told to post myself a copy of important work or lodge a copy with dated receipts in a bank but realistically for journalism or other types of copywriting, this is probably overkill. In any case, simply claiming copyright for something you wrote isn’t the same thing as enforcing it. Taking a much broader view, your most defensible competitive advantage as a writer is a track record of great work, good relationships with commissioning editors and a your byline on as much published work as you can produce. I remember years ago in the computer games business that generally the people who came to see me with new game ideas and who insisted on the most legal nonsense (e.g. non-disclosure, non-compete type agreements) generally had the worst ideas. Perhaps another reader may have more constructive suggestions?

  75. mike onyeit June 2, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    what a wonderful piece of advice. i have always yeaned to get such information. my heart and desire has always been to get a chance to educate the masses. the article has made my day. i will start off my long a waited desire to be a writer.

  76. mike onyeit June 2, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    thanks a lot for the informative article. god bless you mightily.

  77. Mike December 17, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    Great advice. My father has been a journo for over 50 years and a tutor for close to 20 of those years. I’ve been compiling some of the advice he’s been giving over those years into a website and funnily enough many of the points you mention are the same.

    This was his top 10:
    http://simontownsendjournalism.com/you-the-journalist/characteristics-of-a-journo/

    1. Persistence
    2. Love of accuracy
    3. Reading
    4. Curiosity about people.  
    5. Personality (yours).
    6. Hatred of bullsh – – !!
    7. Good general knowledge
    8. Fast and persuasive telephone manner.  
    9. Speedy research skills.
    10. Superior writing and expression skills.

    • Matthew Stibbe December 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm #

      That’s a great list. Thanks for sharing! Matthew

  78. Career options May 1, 2013 at 4:31 am #

    Freelance journalism … probably one of the toughest careers to succeed in, let alone make a living from.

  79. Crystal Yorker June 5, 2013 at 4:55 am #

    Really good article! This has a ton of really useful information! One thing you didn’t mention was building clients by networking on freelance sites like oDesk and http://www.workersoncall.com. This has been for me the best way to generate revenue streams!

  80. joe June 28, 2013 at 9:20 am #

    So basically, I am an Independent Journalist if I say so?

    • Matthew Stibbe June 29, 2013 at 8:46 am #

      Sure. It’s not a regulated industry (like, say, doctoring) where you need someone else’s permission to call yourself that.

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