Posted October 3rd, 2011 by Sharon Green in social media
Twitter has been hailed the top online tool for journalists. RMIT online journalism lecturer Renee Barnes spoke about this in a previous blog post. So what are the key things that Twitter has taught me to improve my writing skills? How has it allowed me to make the most of being a journalist?
Here are the top five ways Twitter has made me a better journalist:
1. Twitter taught me to write succinctly
If you’re a “wordy” writer Twitter will force you to say exactly what you want to say, in as few words as possible. It can be difficult to compose a message in 140 characters or less so Twitter can help you to improve your copywriting and headline writing skills. It has also made me think hard about writing effective headlines and titles for online articles and blog posts and has therefore taught me to communicate those ideas as succinctly as possible. Twitter forces you to cut out the fluff, get to the point, and be concise.
2. Twitter lists have helped me to find sources for my stories
Whether you’re looking for talent, spokespeople, experts or other sources for your stories, organising your Twitter lists into categories can help you find them quickly. I have multiple lists that help me with this on a daily basis. Consider creating lists on Twitter through which you can sort your followers into groups so it is easy to find them later. For example, if you’re a journalist who frequently writes across education, environment and political issues why not create lists for each of these categories? It will be easy to locate and get in touch with a source in a specific field if you have filed them into a Twitter list.
3. It’s given me the opportunity to participate as a citizen journalist
Disseminating news and information via Twitter has given me the chance to engage with the medium from a different perspective. I’ve tweeted live from events, broken local news, and shared information as it happens via Twitter. Consequently, I’ve received a boost in relevant followers who share similar interests and are willing to engage with me on those specific topics. This has allowed me to interact with and respond to people from the perspective of being a public news creator without the limitations of a traditional news media setting.
4. It allows me to interact with my audience
Twitter not only allows me to share links to my stories but provides a channel for my audience to send through immediate feedback and responses to my articles. It also gives me a greater sense of what my readers want. From time to time, I’ve even posed questions to my followers (often based around a topic I am writing about at the time) to gain another perspective, opinion or insight into that discussion. In turn, this gives me a clearer indication of the type of content my audience enjoys consuming and allows me to have a better direction when selecting story ideas and blog topics.
5. Twitter has allowed me to establish myself in the media industry
By far, Twitter has been the most useful and valuable tool that I’ve used to position myself as a journalist. Through Twitter alone I have been able to self-promote my writing services, share links to my articles, collaborate thoughts and ideas with my readers and network with fellow media professionals. It has been, and continues to be, my primary source for breaking news and a constant pool of information through which I can access topics of personal interest. I have also been approached, numerous times, directly through Twitter for work opportunities and article commissions. In its essence, Twitter has supported what I do for a living and provides a platform for me to continue my online presence as a journalist.
How has using Twitter helped you in your work as a journalist?
Posted September 15th, 2011 by Sharon Green in journalism careers
The 2011 Freelance Industry Report was released this month and shows some interesting findings about the nature of the profession. As most of my readers know, I have written about freelance journalism in the past and the topic has remained of interest to me. While the data in this report reflects the US freelance market, there’s no reason why we can’t learn a thing or two from the information gathered regardless of our geographical location. In a nutshell, I have put together a summary of the major findings with a specific focus on freelancing across the journalism and editorial spaces:
> Who are freelancers and what do they do?
Interestingly, writers composed the biggest professional category of freelancers (18%), followed by copywriters (12%) and editors/copyeditors (6%). Of the survey respondents, 72% of freelancers were based in North America, 13% lived in Europe, 6% lived in Asia and 3% were from South America. Australia accounted for only 1.2% of respondents while 0.3% of respondents were from Oceania.
While the freelancing profession attracted a wide age range, from teens through to people in their 60s, the largest represented group in the survey was the 30-39 year old segment (28%), closely followed by those in their 40s (25%) and 50s (24%).
An overwhelming ninety per cent of freelancers work from home while almost 8% work either in a private office away from home or in a shared work environment.
> What are the biggest challenges facing freelancers today?
Twenty two per cent of participants said finding clients was their biggest challenge. Interestingly, obstacles such as getting paid on time (4%) and competing against lower-cost freelancers (3%), which are commonly cited as having reached alarming levels, were not among the top-ranking concerns for freelancers in 2011. Looking deeper into the data, copywriters (32%), cited that they were more likely to struggle finding clients than peers in other fields. Staying productive is also a big concern for writers (13%) and editors named “getting out of the feast-or-famine cycle” as a top challenge. European (26%) and African (25%) freelancers cited finding clients as a top challenge while maintaining work/life balance is a top issue for freelancers in Oceania (50%).
> How do freelancers find work and source clients?
Freelancers cited the most effective methods for sourcing and landing work was via word of mouth (23%), referrals, and tapping into their own personal and professional networks (17%). Online job boards (9%) such as Elance and oDesk ranked above networking (7%), social media (3%) and cold-calling (2%).
“When it comes to clients, the overwhelming majority of freelancers (75%) go after businesses. However, 16% work mainly for individual consumers, 6% work for non-profits, 2% pursue government work and 1% focus on associations.”
> Fact: Freelancers are more satisfied with their lifestyle
Forty-eight per cent of freelancers have more free time now than they did as an employee and 59 per cent are happier now than they were before becoming self-employed. In fact, 54 per cent said that they wouldn’t even consider working as an employee again, regardless of what the job paid or what it entailed. But don’t be fooled, freelancers are hardworking professionals. One-third of them work more than 40 hours per week and another 26% work 31-40 hours per week.
Twenty-six per cent of respondents said they chose to freelance to have more freedom and flexibility, while 21% said it was mostly about following their passion. Almost 16% said they wanted to be their own boss. Interestingly, almost half of the respondents reported having more free time as a freelancer. Fifty-nine per cent of writers and fifty-seven per cent of copywriters reported getting the most free time after going solo.
> Freelancers earn healthy rates for their work.
Although the range varies widely, 45% of freelancers earn between $20-59 per hour. Furthermore, 26% earn $80 or more per hour and 17% earn $100 or more per hour. When it comes to pricing and billing for their services, 60% of freelancers quote and charge flat project fees. One-third bill by the hour, 5% work mostly on retainer and 1.7% employ more creative performance-based models. Hourly rates vary however, writers (18%) and editors/copyeditors (22%) cited earning between the $50-59 per-hour range while copywriters fell into the $100-150 per-hour range.
> Social media ranks as top tactic for freelancers
In the coming year, freelancers plan to engage in social media (46%), utilise their own personal/professional networks (46%) and encourage more business via word of mouth (43%). It’s interesting to see social media climb to the top of this list for future marketing plans – perhaps an indication of its value when it comes to self-promotion, exposure and using innovative ways to source clients?
To download a free copy of the 2011 Freelance Industry Report, visit: http://www.internationalfreelancersday.com/2011report/
Posted June 9th, 2011 by Sharon Green in journalism careers
The launching your online presence session at the Walkleys 2011 Freelance Conference looked at how freelance journalists can create and maintain a successful online presence. The panel discussed effective use of social media platforms and how you can harness it for story ideas as well as important things to consider when using online tools to market yourself and your services.
Renee Barnes, an online journalism lecturer at RMIT, opened the session with a look at the top online tools used by journalists. Renee said it’s important for journalists to understand the online world because this is where the industry is heading, and in order to understand it, we must operate in it. Here are her top 6 online tools to assist with your day-to-day job as a journalist:
Connection and engagement are key. Twitter enables journalists to tap into a huge network of other journalists, editors and potential sources. It also allows you to create and build your own audience. Twitter can be used to find stories and leads but can also be used as an effective marketing tool to drive readers to your stories.
2. Google Reader
Subscribe to RSS feeds and keep up to date with all your favourite blogs with Google Reader. Renee referred to Google Reader as her “personal media monitoring service” because rather than visiting hundreds of different websites each day, you can have them all delivered to one site.
Also known as social bookmarking. It works in conjunction with Google Reader in that it saves stories and static websites to one account. It eliminates a large list of browser favourites and can be accessed from any computer. Renee said the most important feature is being able to save the bookmarks under relevant tags so they can be easily searched at a later time.
The image sharing service could prove invaluable for freelance journalists seeking licensed images to use alongside blog posts and articles. It’s also a great tool to get high resolution images to editors without overloading their inbox.
5. Linked In
In it’s essence, Linked In is an online CV. But it’s real value lies in the ability to keep in contact with previous and future professional contacts in your field.
A free blogging platform that is really easy to use. It allows you to create a blog and therefore an online presence in a few minutes. Now there’s no excuse not to be online!
Renee has complied a more comprehensive look at how the above online tools can assist freelance journalists: A journalist’s guide to developing an online presence
Editor-in-chief and founder of Anthill James Tuckerman, shared four key tips for journalists and content creators looking to develop an online venture. If starting anything online, Tuckerman suggests making it:
>Measureable: Don’t do anything online unless it can be measured. Measurement tools and metrics allow you to constantly improve what you do online. This largely refers to tracking web traffic, and learning how to produce more traffic via out-going links, for example.
>Findable: Your website or online presence needs to be easily found via search engines so building Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tactics into everything you do is crucial for developing and maintaining your online presence. According to Tuckerman, 40% of traffic comes directly from Google searches.
>Shareable: Gain an understanding of social networking tools to grow your freelance business. Make it really easy for your readers or your audience to share your links and content. Provide social media sharing buttons on your stories and blog posts so it makes it simple for your readers to share your content quickly. Get your followers to assist with your marketing efforts through online sharing.
> Manageable: Tuckerman said we need to create processes to automate our online activities, especially if you are someone who has several social media accounts and a website. Use available tools and technology to save time and help you with managing your online presence.
Do you agree with the above points? Are there other online tools that journalists can benefit from using?
Posted May 31st, 2011 by Sharon Green in journalism careers
About a week ago I attended the Walkleys Cash for Content: 2011 Freelance Journalism Conference. I tweeted live from the event and subsequently received numerous requests from my followers to write a blog post on what I had learned from the conference. Given that the day covered a lot of ground, I’ve decided to stick to key points and discussions about making it as a freelance journalist. This is the first post from a small series I will write based on information shared at the conference.
I found the keynote address by Leon Gettler one of the most valuable sessions at the conference. With six blogs to manage, fortnightly columns to write, a weekly podcast and two books to his name, Leon is one of Australia’s most successful freelancers. So I figured taking on board some of his advice would be a good move.
Here are some key points Leon advises for successful freelancing:
- Don’t work for free. “There are no freebies when you freelance. You charge and you charge as much as you can,” says Leon Gettler.
- Freelancers need a niche. Define yourself in the freelance writing market. Your niche can still be broad (such as business writing) but it is important to establish yourself in the industry as a journalist with a specialist background of some kind.
- Approach freelancing with a business mind. Being a freelance journalist is not all about doing the writing. If you’re a freelancer, you’re effectively running your own small business.
- Manage your admin. Send an invoice with every completed story and make sure it includes your name, Australian Business Number (ABN), home/office address, bank details, and your terms of trade (e.g. payment required within 14 days etc)
- Make life easy for your editor. Pitch interesting and new ideas. Give them stories they can’t get anybody else to do.
- Maintain relationships. Communicate with your editors frequently; don’t leave them in the dark then expect them to offer you ongoing work/commissions.
- Embrace multimedia. This is a growing area and large corporations are willing and prepared to pay a lot for digital and multimedia content. See if your skills can be used across multiple platforms including blogs, podcasts, videos and online content.
- Discipline is key. Set up a schedule for yourself to stay productive, meet deadlines and have a routine. Use to-do lists. Give yourself deadlines if one hasn’t been stipulated. Discipline is a key requirement for freelancers. If you don’t get this right your freelancing career will fail.
- All about volume. Freelancing is very much a ‘volume game’. It’s all about how much work you can get in the pipeline and sustaining it.
- Allow for quiet periods. January is typically a very slow month for media in Australia. Therefore, expect to receive little work during this month. Have a back up fund for this time of year and other quiet work periods.
- Don’t miss deadlines. Don’t miss deadlines. Don’t miss deadlines. Got it?
- Be flexible. Only work for less where an organisation can promise to give you ongoing or regular work. For example, frequent work at a lower pay rate will be more worthwhile in the long run than infrequent higher paying work.
- Be prepared to work very hard. Freelancing is not for those seeking an easy or leisurely career. Leon says some of his hardest working years have occurred while freelancing.
Is this advice from Leon useful? If you have any helpful tips for successful freelancing then please share them by posting a comment below.
Posted April 25th, 2011 by Sharon Green in Career Highlights
As some of you may already be aware, last week I had the pleasure of meeting Australia’s Prime Minister Julia Gillard. She came out to Laverton North, in the outer west of Melbourne, to visit The Alex Fraser Group, a local recycling and construction company. The company has won a number of awards for their sustainable work practices, including recycling of materials into matter that can be used for concrete and asphalt. The Alex Fraser Group invited PM Julia Gillard to visit their business, which falls into her local electorate area, and she gladly accepted the offer.
On Friday the 15th of April Ms Gillard visited the site and was taken to numerous viewing points to see how the plant worked and met with staff and management to congratulate them on their recent business awards. Ms Gillard was very patient and pleasant throughout her visit, taking the time to listen to what staff had to say and showing an interest in how the business brings benefit to the local area.
I had the pleasure of meeting Ms Gillard and exchanged a few brief words with her. I found her generally pleasant, friendly, and cooperative as she juggled the demands of visiting the site and speaking to the media (including myself) all while keeping a focus on the task at hand.
I asked Ms Gillard about the significance of her visit to the site that day, as well as general questions about unemployment in the West, and recent proposed changes to train timetables to the Werribee Line which will affect commuters in her electorate area.
Ms Gillard was also happy to have her photo taken with as many people who wanted a happy snap with her. She willingly took photos with the construction staff and management. And of course, I had to finish off the day with a picture of my own. Besides, it’s not every day that you get to meet the Prime Minister!
To read the article I wrote for the Wyndham/Point Cook Weekly regarding the Prime Minister’s visit to Laverton North, click here.
Â© 2010 Sharon Green. All files, words, content and articles on this site are the intellectual property of the writer and no person is authorised to copy or reproduce the material without the authorâ€™s prior consent.
Posted March 29th, 2011 by Sharon Green in Published work
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing for Bride Magazine and this month I had my second feature article published in the luxury publication. For this piece, I researched and explored the topic of wedding rings and looked at everything from traditional styles to art-deco and antique rings and even options for men looking for something with character. I hope readers find the piece informative and interesting. Issue #66 is on sale now at leading news agencies. Here’s a sneak peek:
Â© 2011 Sharon Green. All files, words, content and articles on this site are the intellectual property of the writer and no person is authorised to copy or reproduce the material without the authorâ€™s prior consent.
Posted March 15th, 2011 by Sharon Green in journalism careers
I finally managed to get to a Fashion Torque event last week for the first time. I was waiting for a topic of interest to come up and thought fashion journalism was quite possibly the best combination of two interests I am equally passionate about.
Held at the back room of Globe CafÃ© in Prahran, the event presented an intimate discussion centred on the topic of fashion journalism hosted by fashion designer Jenny Bannister and stylist Philip Boon. The event also attracted two guest panelists â€“ both fashion journalists working in Melbourne. The Herald Sunâ€™s Fashion Editor Anna Byrne and Style Melbourneâ€™s Sarah Willcocks were both there to tell us about their journey through a career in fashion journalism.
Anna Byrne began her journalism career by studying a professional writing and editing degree at Deakin University. When she completed her studies, she decided to take a year off to travel and freelance and found herself writing for mylusciouslife.com which launched her into the world of fashion writing. After completing a month-long internship at the Herald Sun, Anna kept in touch with contacts at the paper for months before a role came up that gave her the opportunity to do journalism full time. She also did a stint of volunteering backstage at fashion week to add to her fashion credibility.
Sarah Willcocks encountered a rather different experience prior to entering fashion journalism. She studied a media degree at La Trobe University before writing for The Scene, an online lifestyle publication. About two years ago she started Style Melbourne, her very own online magazine focusing on Melbourne fashion and designers. She notes that while itâ€™s great to follow fashion coverage from Milan, Paris and New York, she felt there was nothing highlighting the talent and emerging designers in her own city. â€œStyle Melbourne fills a niche,â€ she said. Sarahâ€™s writing career has also leaned towards a lot of copywriting because, she admits, this is an area that tends to pay. â€œA lot of online start ups canâ€™t pay,â€ she noted.
In terms of breaking into the industry and building name for yourself, both Anna and Sarah note that networking has been vital in driving their career. Sarah said she was invited to fashion week where she sat next to an editor who later hired her writing services, while Anna mentioned the importance of connecting with readers and industry insiders via social networks as a way to keep in touch.
Anna suggests that those wanting to break into fashion journalism should start by simply attending events where you can network, meet people within the industry and gather business cards. â€œFashion is not just about the writing, itâ€™s about doing the hard work and socialising. So little of my time is actually spent writing the story,â€ she adds.
What about the big question about working for free that plagues so many breaking into what is a competitive industry, especially nowadays where anyone can publish on the internet? Anna suggests getting the unpaid work out of the way as early into your career as possible, such as when you are still completing your studies. But there does come a time when doing unpaid work must stop, notes Sarah: â€œWhen people are approaching you to work for them for freeâ€¦ thatâ€™s where you draw the line.â€
Both girls work quite differently even though they are essentially doing a similar job; Anna works within the constraints of limited newspaper space and catering to a mass commercial audience across a specific demographic while Sarah caters to a niche group of online readers who are often time-poor. Sarah also oversees more aspects of the role as editor of Style Melbourne and is responsible for everything from story selection to the writing, editing and proofing of content as well as ensuring her SEO is up to scratch to guarantee her website returns results that rank high on Google.
Of course, thereâ€™s also the question around main stream media and blogging that entered the conversation â€“ something that is becoming more prevalent among fashion circles. Anna believes readers and advertisers will always need main stream media and that there will always be a need for printed publications because they are tactile and readers love looking at glossy fashion pages. Sarah notes that there is a lot of talk surrounding how fashion blogging has become a threat to traditional forms of fashion media but says that both can co-exist independently because they are two separate products. Sarah notes that while there are fashion bloggers (like former newspaper journalist Patty Huntington) offering new and valuable information directly from the industry, there are very few bloggers offering â€œtop notch, investigative and original content.â€
While the discussion wasnâ€™t ground-breaking, it did offer an insight into an aspect of the fashion industry. As a journalist myself, who has done a fair share of fashion reporting, I was hoping to discover something a little more innovative about the workings of the industry or how to secure your first break in the industry. Â The discussion did however, offer those new to the industry an idea about what to expect, the nature of the job and some challenges encountered along the way.
Images thanks to Business Chic
Posted March 2nd, 2011 by Sharon Green in Magazines
Today Desktop magazine’s relaunch edition will hit newsstands across the country. The niche magazine which has brought us news and information across the design and digital landscape will now narrow its focus to “the culture of design” and allow readers to engage in the ethos of designers and learn how various creative studios operate.
I attended the relaunch event last Wednesday evening, held at Mag Nation’s Elizabeth Street store, and had to keep my lips sealed all week about the exciting new changes in store for readers. The event not only provided a fitting location to unveil the new look of the magazine and the opportunity to flip through its thick, papery pages but was also an appropriate venue to announce that the publication has undergone a complete rebrand.
The magazine, now running for its 25th year was due for a relaunch said Managing Editor Brendan McKnight, claiming that it would be very rare not to tweak the direction of the publication after all this time and describing the change as a natural progression forward. “In terms of the design, I think people wanted more of a sexy, sophisticated design.”
Guests were welcomed with a copy of the magazine and a first look at the redesigned cover, layout and content of the internal pages. The cover, designed by Mark Gowing, reflects his typical typographical style that works in an abstract approach. Apparently there’s a cryptic message embedded in the cover design too; another design trait Gowing is renowned for.
Much has changed in the magazine, both from a design and content perspective, notes McKnight in his editor’s letter of the relaunched edition. “We want Desktop to be a platform where thoughts can be raised, opinions can be heard and a place to really get into the minds of the people behind all of this fantastic work,” he said.
On first glance, readers will noticed the magazine has changed in its physical form, moving from an A4 glossy format to a more square shaped, thicker magazine with a hard spine and matte cover.
The magazine has undergone a complete rebrand too, with a new logo or masthead to complement its new treatment. “The masthead looks a lot more sophisticated – the design is minimal, clean and simple and that reflects where the magazine is headed,” McKnight said.
Readers will also notice a dramatic change in the overall layout and design of the magazine. Content is carefully placed on the page, more white space is featured throughout and a general sense of a minimalist design is apparent, making for a more fluid reading experience. “People are looking for a very minimal structure and design and for the magazine to be quite easy to navigate,” said McKnight.
The magazine has also paid close attention to detail and those intricate finishing touches. The spine has a designed monogram which will change with each issue but when collected and stacked, one of top of the other, will reveal a new pattern with a contained message. Just another thing to look forward to and enjoy from this redesigned, relaunched magazine.
The relaunched edition of Desktop magazine will go on sale on March 2, 2011.
Further details, visit: www.desktopmag.com.au
© 2010 Sharon Green. All files, words, content and articles on this site are the intellectual property of the writer and no person is authorised to copy or reproduce the material without the author’s prior consent.
Posted February 9th, 2011 by Sharon Green in Media news
AOL said $300 million of the purchase price would be paid in cash, with the remainder in shares.
The Huffington Post, founded in 2005 by Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerer and Jonah Peretti, has grown quickly and now attracts 25 million unique monthly visitors.
Citing comScore data, AOL stated that the new combined group will reach 117 million unique monthly visitors in the US and 270 million visitors globally.
“The acquisition of The Huffington Post will create a next-generation American media company with global reach that combines content, community and social experiences for consumers,” AOL chairman and CEO Tim Armstrong said in a statement.
“Together, our companies will embrace the digital future and become a digital destination that delivers unmatched experiences for both consumers and advertisers.”
Arianna Huffington will lead the newly formed Huffington Post Media Group as President and Editor-in-Chief, and described the merge as â€œa perfect fit.â€ She said readers would now be able to access more content than ever before, including more local, tech, entertainment, finance, and video based news. “By uniting AOL and The Huffington Post, we are creating one of the largest destinations for smart content and community on the Internet. And we intend to keep making it better and better,” she said.
Co-Founder and Chairman, Kenneth Lerer, said The Huffington Post team had created a potent brand with the proven track record of knowing how to grow traffic, inform and entertain its readers and build a one-of-a-kind online community. â€œAdd that to the powerful scale and resources of AOL and you have the perfect combination for today and the future. Together these two companies will be a premier online content provider. From local citizen reporting through AOL’s Patch, to The Huffington Post’s national reporting on politics, business and culture, consumers will have access to everything they want whenever they want it.”
AOL separated from Time Warner in 2009, ending an eight-year association between the two companies. Since the onset of the Global Financial Crisis, AOL has experienced an unstable time and expects the new acquisition to help boost its declining advertising revenues.
Posted January 20th, 2011 by Sharon Green in Uncategorized
More than 75 per cent of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone following a mass down pour of rain of what has been described as the worst flood in over 100 years. The official Queensland flood death toll has risen to 20 and damages to agriculture, mining, infrastructure, tourism and local business is likely to cost the nation $30 billion. While the Queensland Premier’s Flood Appeal has surpassed $127 million, much more will be needed to help recover the state.
This is why Onya Magazine has decided to host the Onya Aid event at Honey Bar on the afternoon of January 26, with 100 per cent of proceeds being donated to the Queensland flood appeal.
Onya Magazine Director and Editor-In-Chief Sandi Sieger said, “Australia is known for its mateship, especially in times of need. When our neighbours are in trouble, Australians step up and thatâ€™s what Onya Aid is all about â€“ community and mateship.”
The event will host a silent auction of items from Australian companies, and a live auction at 2pm for big ticket items like a Ken Duncan framed print, athletic memorabilia and more. There will be live music, Byron Cooke spinning disks and Melbourne celebrities and local identities in attendance. Entry to the event is just $5 on the door, with 100% of proceeds from admission, auctions, donations and Honey Bar profits being contributed directly to the cause.
Honey Bar owner Steve Vallas, who has also generously donated his venue and time, said, “Every little bit counts and we are just doing what we can. There is nothing more Aussie than a beer on Australia Day, so why not have a beer with us and help in getting Queenslanders back on their feet.”
For further information, visit: http://www.onyamagazine.com
To donate to The Queensland Premierâ€™s Disaster Relief Appeal, call 1800 219 028 or visit: http://www.qld.gov.au/floods/donate.html