As a freelance journalist, the majority of my days are spent working from the comfort of my home.
Waking up in the morning, the first thing that I do is make a piping hot cup of coffee and settle into my desk chair wearing comfy leggings and an oversized t-shirt.
Isn’t that what we’re all searching for? A chance to make money doing something that you love while not having to leave the house.
It may seem like a dream come true, but it is definitely hard to manage at times. When you have pets and household chores to complete, focusing your mind on one single task is hard to manage.
Not only are you in your house with your numerous distractions like the piles of laundry growing bigger and bigger with every passing day or having the couch stare at you, wishing that you’d come lay and binge watch netflix all day, but you have the invasion of work entering into your personal, stress free environment that is your home.
Having to focus your mind on one single task, is not impossible but definitely hard when there are a million other things that need to be done.
As a journalist, there are certain aspects that you have to remain focused on in order to create a story that engages the reader, a story that gives the audience a reason to look at your article.
Every story needs to be factual, something relatable but gives other people’s perspective, emphasising how the story is logical and truthful. This means that I spend countless hours on the phone or emailing with people whom I have never met before.
Hours are spent looking for contact information on businesses, scouring through linkedin profiles looking for emails and phone numbers of people that are relatable to your story pitch.
Throughout the day, when im spending countless hours on either phone call meetings, skype calls, and even emailing with people, having the comfort of your own home without others bothering you allows for more productivity.
I am not a very outgoing person, I like to keep myself private, reserved, I don’t want to be judged if I do something wrong. That is why working from home is so great, you get to be yourself without fear and talk with your clients freely.
Not only is there time spent on finding people who play an important role within the story, but time is spent interviewing them, spending hours researching topics that an editor might encourage. It’s one thing to have a good story idea but it’s an entirely other thing when it comes to writing that story.
Writing as a journalist requires certain aspects that need to be met within the article. A reporter must seek the truth and report on it fairly, gather information that is accurate, provide context, identify your sources clearly, minimize the harm that can be created throughout the writing process, act independently, take responsibility for your work and have the ability to fully explain your decision on why the article was written the way it was.
Writing an article is not just stringing sentences together from the top of your head, there is a lot of research and reporting that is done in order to make the story factual.
One of the great perks of being a freelancer though is the ability to create your own hours. Spending hours researching pitch ideas, calling people, gathering information and writing the story can be draining.
That is why being a freelancer is great, you get to take breaks throughout the day without having to worry that someone is breathing down your back. There are times where your so mentally drained that the thought of staring at your computer screen any longer is pure torture.
During those times, freelancers can step away from the computer and relax in the comfort of their own home. They don’t have to force themselves to work countless hours when their mental capacity has been reached.
The start to any freelance job, is coming up with a fantastic pitch idea. I send out pitch letters to editors a thousand times a day, discussing stories that I want to write, marketing who I am and why my story is important to the publication.
You need to advertise the story, describe why that idea is so good and why you are the one qualified enough to write it. That’s where marketing and networking comes into play.
Writing a pitch letter is hard, it takes dedication and countless rewrites in order to create the perfect one. There has to be research already thought out, people already placed to interview and being able to write in a way that connects with the publication.
Every story must resemble the voice and the audience that the publication is reaching. Editors want to know that you have read their publication, know their audience and are able to resemble the voice that they bestow.
You are selling yourself to the editor in order for them to pick you, for them to see that you are willing and capable of being a writer for them.
Editors are constantly drowning in work, seeing another pitch letter that doesn’t show off who they are as a business will only make them throw it out faster rather than waste their time. Marketing plays a huge role in sending out pitch letters, you have to sell who you are and what skills you possess.
Being a freelancer, I have found that the job is not dedicated to the writing portion all the time, having a well rounded background in writing will only get you so far.
A freelancer needs to be knowledgeable about marketing, networking, editing and so much more. There are so many different avenues that a freelancer can take in order to succeed, they need to be every aspect of a business within one person.
Something that I have taken away from my time working as a freelance journalist, is that there is so much more work involved than writing a story and getting paid.
There are countless hours spent creating the perfect pitch letter and sending it to a publication only for it to be turned down.
The job calls for numerous hours spent researching topics, finding people to interview, getting in contact with them and then finally writing the story, only to come back to it in a few days and rewrite the whole thing.
Being a freelance journalist requires dedication and the willingness to work endlessly until that proposal is accepted. There will be tough moments where you feel that you are going nowhere.
Rejection is a big part of being a freelancer, but it’s also one of the greatest strengths of being one. Rejection toughens you up, it makes you see what you can improve on, how you can change your viewpoint and be able to see what exactly an editor wants from their writers.
There will be moments of hardship and being pushed almost to the point of breaking, but in return, there will be moments of elation, finally getting what you have been working towards and publishing a story that you have spent months creating. That is the best part, getting to show off that printed article and say that you finally made it.
Being a journalist is all about the time, dedication and effort that are put forth in order to achieve that euphoria of becoming a published writer.
Thanks for reading!