Selling your work

As a freelance journalist, you will always need to be actively seeking new opportunities and new contacts. You will need to get yourself and your work exposure. When starting out, freelance journalists want to write for the national newspapers and big publications but you should also consider smaller publications. If you start small, you are more likely to be successful in selling your work.


Research your clients

When it comes to finding the right publications you want to contribute to, you will need to know what you want to write, what interests you, and what can make you a success. It is in your best interest to research who you want to work for, collaborate with, and any other future opportunities that you may consider working on. There is a whole world out there, big and small companies wanting the chance to work with you and vice versa. Almost everyone wants to work with a big company at some point, glamorous magazines, and worldwide newspapers, but it is important to do your research to know what sort of company they are, how much you’ll get paid, and even how likely it will be to get weekly work.

Smaller publications are a great way to start for new freelance journalists, as they will most likely include regular work and be a great starting point to learn in your new role. You can find smaller publications online, through your local paper, University/college, or word of mouth. Make sure to also research the sector you want to write about and whether there is enough information and resources for you to get regular work from it and be able form your career in that particular sector.  When you have found what you want to write, research all the relevant publications. Then you will need to carry out some further research to find the most relevant person to contact.


How and who to contact to sell your journalism article?

You can contact publications directly, or expose yourself so that clients come to you. However, this will only likely happen when you have a notable amount of experience under your belt. There are a variety of people to contact about selling your work; and it is important to be open, authentic, and communicative to everyone involved in the selling process. Most of your work will go through the eyes of editors, with either a quick glance or a thorough look at your article/blog. There can be a long process for publication, with stories and articles taking between 1 week to 6 months to fully process and publish. This highlights the industry’s constant look for articles and how their busy schedules can impact how quickly they look at submitted work.

One way to approach a contact is to turn up in person and submit your ideas through their editors. This shows your eagerness to work for that particular publication. Don’t worry if your work gets put aside or it gets rejected, as it is a great opportunity to adapt your article and recycle the idea for other companies. One will eventually say yes.

One of the best ways to contact someone about your freelance journalism article is to email them directly. You are more likely to hear back from the publication and any feedback from your submission this way. This is your chance to send a short pitch explaining a little bit about you, your idea, and what you hope to achieve - short but effective. This will also give you an opportunity to display your portfolio, build contacts and get your name out there. Building contacts will give you the ability to network freely and create contacts to sell your work.


Build your portfolio

Starting freelance work for smaller publications will allow you to build a portfolio and show off your work to clients. For future articles, it is worth noting that building a portfolio is a successful way to gain client interest and to keep a record of any previous work that can relate to future projects.

When writing any content, whether you are following a brief or are trying to approach a publication with your own work, you need to remember the tone of voice and the length of your piece. You don’t need to write the whole article before selling your work, you can sell it based on a concept or even partly written. To create shorter and snappy pieces of writing to add to your portfolio, think about the various ways to publish your articles such as a column or blog. These will add to your portfolio and your creative style of writing, highlighting your varied approach to work. Make sure that your portfolio is up-to-date and has important case studies of your previous work.


Should I use a freelance directory?

Consider getting yourself on freelance directories, such as Freelance Directory. For a small fee, you can have a profile featuring your work attracting potential clients. By joining a freelance directory, you are given the opportunity to collaborate, connect and create.

You will be able to connect with other freelancers in a similar field to you, as well as freelancers who might want to collaborate with you on different skills and work on future projects together. You can highlight your skillset, discover different portfolios, and make yourself known online for work exposure. This will allow clients to find you, and enable you to find connections to build relationships with and hopefully sell your work to.


Selling your work may take some time due to the high volume of articles. But you should remember that eventually, with time, a publication will take you on. Research and take your time with finding the right fit for you, the company, and the number of articles you can be expected to publish.


More on freelancing as a journalist