How to find work
To gain valuable experience you need to be actively searching for opportunities and make the most out of your surroundings. For example, if you are still at school and are considering a career as a freelance journalist then why not call your local paper and see if you can gain some work experience with their staff writers. Alternatively, why not set up a school newspaper, or contribute to a university newspaper. The idea is to get started and build a portfolio of work that you could show any potential clients.
Consider seeking out and speaking to other professionals for advice and insight into the industry when you are first starting out. Make best use of online discussion forums as well as social media, as they can be a great way to find a community. Also if you happen to be covering events, make sure you speak to other journalists who are always covering the event. Like all walks of life you may well end up walking away from some conversations swearing you will never speak to another journalist again, on other occasions you may make a good contact. Speaking to associates is all about networking and to be a successful journalist, like any other form of freelance work you will find benefit in a wide networking circle.
If you don't want to be present at events, covering them then you don't have to. With the rise of online journalism, you could be a successful journalist without having to physically meet people. However, to really open the door for opportunities, consider making a broad list of contacts.
There really is a wealth of work available to the freelance journalist but like all industries, you will succeed or fail on your own merits. The more experience you gain and the more contacts you make, the easier it will be to find work.
More on freelancing as a journalist.