The world of freelance writing is a lot different than it was even a few years ago. Gone are the days when you could pitch a story to a newspaper and then stick with the same few clients for your entire career. Now, you need to build up a diverse portfolio of work, build your reputation as a reliable writer, and then find the jobs that suit you.
In today’s job market, a reliable journalist with a diverse portfolio is in high demand. Having a large number of publications on your resume can not only land you more jobs, but it also makes you that much more attractive to employers.
The Need For Professionalism
Even in the world of journalism, where jobs can still be found, the need for professionalism is of the utmost importance. If you want to succeed as a freelance writer, you need to set the standards high and you need to make sure that your work reflects that. When it comes to your cover letter, for example, you need to make sure that it is perfectly written and that it follows a specific formula. Many employers will scan your cover letter for keywords, so make sure that you are using the right words and phrases. Also, don’t overload your cover letter with unnecessary details – keep it short and sweet.
When it comes to applying for jobs, it’s important to believe in yourself – even if you don’t really feel like it at the moment. Set yourself a goal to submit at least five different pitches for articles. If you manage to get one accepted, fantastic! If not, then it’s still not the end of the world. You can use the article to improve your pitch for your next submission and continue building your portfolio.
The point is to keep submitting articles and pitching until you get one that’s going to catch the attention of the editor. Once you’ve gotten that one, celebrate as big as you can because this is definitely a milestone towards becoming a professional writer.
If you’re looking to build a career as a journalist, it would be wise to diversify your resume. Why? Because not all employers are going to value your writing the same. For example, if you have a lot of experience in food journalism, but your resume also lists your work in human rights journalism, you’re putting yourself in an advantageous position. When an employer is reviewing your resume, they’ll see that you can still produce high-quality work even if you’ve done work in a different field. Diversifying your resume not only makes you that much more employable, but it also shows that you’re able to adapt to new environments and take on new challenges.
Create A Portfolio
Once you’ve gotten a taste of the freelance world, you’ll realize that there’s a lot more to it than just pitching stories. The real advantage of being a freelancer is that you’re able to build a portfolio of your work and show it off to prospective employers. Having a large collection of articles, blog posts, and pitch decks gives you a good chance at showcasing your talents to any potential employer.
The trouble is, building a portfolio is not as easy as it seems. Why? Because of all the varying platforms on which you can find and share your work. If you want to truly make it a portfolio, you need to go the extra mile and curate a collection of articles, blog posts, and pitch decks that represent your best work and that are suitable for any employer to look at.
To start building your writing portfolio, you can use a variety of methods. Some prefer to write articles for free in exchange for SEO benefits (Search Engine Optimization – using keywords and creating high-quality content to increase your site’s ranking in search results). Others prefer to create a blog and then use that as a platform to share their work (also known as a content strategy). Still others prefer to simply use social media to share their work and connect with potential clients.
The Importance Of A Blog
If you’ve been using social media to market your freelance writing, then it’s no secret that blogs are one of the most important (if not the most important) tools for journalists today. Why? Because a blog can serve as both a virtual newsroom and a laboratory for experimenting with different styles and trying out new ideas. Plus, blogs offer a constant stream of content, allowing you to build up a large enough sample of your work to truly show off your talents to prospective employers.
If you decide to use a blog to showcase your work, make sure that you use a platform that allows for commenting. As a writer, you’re going to be posting your work for others to read and either provide feedback or agree with your analysis. Either way, the ability to engage with potential readers is a great way to grow your blog and establish yourself as an authoritative voice in your industry.
Blogs are one of the most important (if not the most important) parts of any journalist’s resume. Why? Because they can serve as both a platform to experiment with different styles and try out new ideas as well as a collection of work that you can use to showcase your talents to prospective employers.
Choose Your Niche
When it comes to your career in journalism, it’s important to choose a niche that you’re passionate about. If you’re not passionate about food journalism, for example, then maybe legal journalism is the right fit for you. The point is to find a field that you enjoy and that allows you to develop your skills while also being creative. When deciding on your niche, make sure that you look at the jobs that are available and that you feel passionate about performing well in. You can work your way up from there or find a niche that allows for growth and development.
If you decide to specialize in food journalism, for example, you’ll need to keep up with all the new trends in the industry as well as know a lot about the field. If you hate cooking, maybe law is not the right fit for you. You’ll need to find another way to make money if you don’t want to get a job that forces you to cook every day. Don’t worry – there are tons of jobs out there that don’t require you to cook (and a lot of them pay well), so you don’t have to give up your dream of becoming a famous chef just yet.
Build Your Network
You’ve probably heard the term “networking” thrown around a lot when it comes to getting noticed in your industry. Building a network is a great way to gain an advantage in your career. Whether you’re connecting with other journalists to swap work, finding a contact at a prestigious news organization who might be interested in your work, or pitching an idea to a PR firm for possible publication, your network is your key to success.
You’re not going to grow your network without deliberate intention, so make sure that you put in the effort to connect with as many people as you can. Whether it’s through a professional association or a hobby, you need to find a way to stay plugged into the community of journalists.
The more connections you have, the more chances you have of landing that next big story. And when that big story comes along, you’ll be able to say that you were prepared thanks to your extensive network.
If you want to become a successful journalist, you need to be able to get inspired by events that occur around you. If you’re living in London and you want to write about London-based news, then that’s what you need to do. Instead of waiting for a story to inspire you, you need to find a way to make the news happen. That usually means getting involved with an organization that covers your chosen area of expertise or getting a job at a newspaper that covers your chosen area of expertise. Alternatively, you can use your social media accounts to get inspired by the stories that you’re following on there.
If you’re stuck for ideas, then look for the stories that are most important to you. It could be something as simple as local government funding for a cultural organization or a charity that you support, or it could be something more global and topical such as the environment or poverty. Whatever it is, find a way to be passionate about it and then find the news that relates to your chosen topic. Once you’ve found that news story, get inspired by it and write a pitch for the article.
Pitch For Work
If you’ve been searching for a career in journalism, then you’ve probably already heard the term “pitching” used often. When journalists speak of pitching, they usually mean pitching for work. When an editor is reviewing your resume, they’ll most likely have a stack of articles and pitches to choose from. It’s up to you to make sure that they choose yours.