I have been thinking. I’ve been at this freelance journalism game for almost two years now, although I’ve really only found traction in the last six months or so (part time work will have that effect). Even with a decade of business and marketing experience, I have come up against many obstacles. I have mostly had to figure things out on my own because like most people starting out in this business, I have not had a network of industry contacts to turn to.
Despite there being a number of places on the web where you can learn the writing skills you need as a freelance journalist there doesn’t seem to be anywhere central to learn the really important stuff – the lessons you would normally learn on the job if you had a ‘regular’ job.
Sure, there are plenty of sites teaching ways to be a successful freelance copywriter or how to run your creative writing career as a business – but how much of that applies to us journalists? Some of it; not a lot.
And there are a lot of scattered posts on writers’ blogs on things they have learned over the years on dealing with editors, budgeting, tax and legal issues and social media skills. But none of it seems to be together in one place.
This year’s Walkley’s Storyology Freelance stream made me see that a lot of freelancers feel the same way. So if it doesn’t exist then I want to create it myself. I want to create that place where Australian journalists can bring their knowledge and skills to benefit each other, and learn from those who have been there. If I have learned anything it’s that we are not an exclusive or competitive bunch: we just need a meeting ground.
I am planning to cover the following topics but I welcome your input.
- Running the Business: accounting, tax and legal stuff
- Entrepreneurship: avenues for income
- Marketing Essentials: networking and social media
- Industry Standards: pay rates, contracts, syndication
- Career Advice: from considering journalism to retirement (or a career change)
- Etiquette: pitching, negotiation, chasing payments
- The Journalist’s Toolkit: essential equipment and skills
- Training: information on free training
- Staying Sane: work-life balance, passion projects and having a conscience
Would you like to help? Do you have some ideas? It will be a big project but it will be great if we can get it working.
You can send me an email at Sharon at smsmith dot com dot au or I’m on twitter @smsmithwriter