How to find work in journalism
To gain valuable experience you need to be actively searching for opportunities and making 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 website. 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 the best use of online discussion forums as well as social media, as they can be a great way to find a community. Forums are an interactive way to seek advice, reach out to others in a similar field, or even just to browse out of curiosity. The FreelanceUK forum is a popular tool for freelance journalists to network with other individuals and ask questions, whether this is a general inquiry about freelancing, or something related to journalism. It provides a safe space to ask questions and the ability to answer other freelancers’ questions too.
Social media is a popular foundation for connecting with potential clients and fellow freelance journalists too, with LinkedIn being used to optimise connecting with similar people and companies. Use this as your chance to connect with different groups, businesses, and other freelancers who can interact and introduce you to future clients. Make sure to keep your profile up-to-date so everyone can see your latest skills, job roles, and articles.
If you happen to be covering events, make sure you speak to other journalists who are also 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 good contact that you can collaborate with in the future. 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. Live events are one of the most fast-paced forms of journalism but are also one of the best ways to make meaningful relationships with those who are there covering stories. Take up every opportunity to talk to people, no matter how big or small the conversation is as it is a great way to make an impact and find work through word of mouth.
Word of mouth is argued to be one of the most successful ways of gaining work so it is important to show up to events and demonstrate your approachability. Being approachable is a must in this type of job, a friendly yet talkative nature is appealing to many clients as it suggests that you are keen to work. Your job as a freelance journalist is to talk to people, react to events, and share them with the public; with word of mouth being a great marketing tool, it can also be a better way to engage with conversation and gain knowledge of journalists in the area.
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.
Work experience as a freelance journalist
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.
If you are still in education then perhaps join a University society or even your local magazine/newspaper/radio station to help kick off your career in journalism. It initiates a learning opportunity to not only understand the foundations of reporting and writing, but also the unexpected. The unexpected highlights the position to adapt to breaking news and learn how to quickly approach different types of stories. Starting with your local newspaper eases you into bigger stories and the emotional impact that can come with this. News writing is a great skill to learn while on work experience as it can help you prepare for different scenarios, as well as a skill clients look for in a freelance journalist.
Alternatively, you can join a job board to access the latest roles and information available for freelance journalists. This is an appropriate way to get yourself out there and detail exactly what it is that you are looking for. The Freelance Directory is a great tool to show off your experience and allow clients to find and contact you with job opportunities, enabling you to create a name for yourself and find work experience.
Write and publish your own stories
Writing your own breaking stories can be fun and exhilarating, but if you decide to collaborate with other clients or freelancers then they may provide the stories for you instead. There are a variety of styles you can write in including editorial, news writing, or a feature story - this opens up a variety of routes to find work in journalism. By beginning with stories allocated to you through clients, it will allow you to find your feet as a freelance journalist before branching out into your own stories.
On the other hand, if you want to start your career as a freelance journalist, why not start your own blog? This is a creative way to write about what you’re passionate about as well as any relevant topics. If you have the time and skills required, you might want to consider creating your own website to illustrate your articles. This is a distinguished way to articulate your portfolio and create your own personal brand for future clients to approach you. You can publish your articles through websites, social media, and print media to help you get noticed by potential clients. Including photographs and illustrations can further optimise your articles so whether you decide to collaborate with a freelance photographer or draft a photograph online, it will most likely increase your article hits.
These are just a few ways to help you find work in journalism, whether you are just starting out or as an advanced freelance journalist.
More on freelancing as a journalist.