Successful freelancing: tips and advice from freelance journalist Leon Gettler

Posted May 31st, 2011 by in

Image credit: Walkleys

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 which is a great jobs that allow you to travel. 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.

Why it’s been so quiet on this blog lately…

Posted November 10th, 2010 by in

I thought it was about time to give my neglected blog some much needed attention. You may have noticed that it’s been unusually quiet around here over the past couple of months, and I haven’t posted anything since early September, but have a few very good reasons.

For anyone who is familiar with the Australian university curriculum, they can most certainly tell you that September is indeed one of the busiest periods of the second semester. You’re well and truly in the thick of study mode, working on major research projects and assessments all while trying to keep up to date with weekly class material. Given this was the lead up to the final month of my Masters program, it left me with no other choice than to create a tunnel-vision focus on that finish line which, at the time, never seemed to be anywhere in sight.

While completing the final weeks of my Masters I was offered a contract journalism role with Fairfax Media doing community news reporting. Between my existing day job, some freelance work, and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with Fairfax that I could not refuse, I proceeded to work full time while completing what was the most intense semester I have ever experienced. On top of this, my major research project demanded a lot of time which saw me sitting in computer labs at university until unheard of hours in the night editing video presentations and collecting research data only days before deadline. And then turning up to work the next day sleep deprived and zombie-like. Now on the other side of it all, I can happily report that my postgraduate studies are finally out of the way and now resumes the recovery phase. Three weeks afterwards and I am still trying to catch up on sleep!

Having finished what I consider a rather big milestone and personal ambition, it has given me the chance to reflect on the last couple of years when I decided it was time to get serious about this journalism dream of mine. It wasn’t until I took the chance to reflect that I realised just how much I had achieved. Sometimes we get so caught up in the process of working towards goals that we rarely ever find the time to encourage ourselves along the way. At least, this was the case in my situation. Not once did I pat myself on the back, whisper words of encouragement or reward myself for a job well done. I suppose it’s easy to do when trying to remain focused on the end goal.

As one chapter finishes and new and exciting future opportunities present themselves, I want to take the opportunity to reflect on the past two years and share with you some of the important moments (and highlights) that have helped me get to where I am today…

Selection of Article Clippings 2009 - 2010

 

Jan 2009: enrolled in Master of Communication (Journalism) course
Mar 2009: joined Crossfire Magazine editorial team
Jun 2009: completed journalism internship at Geelong Advertiser
Jun 2009: approached Onya Magazine to contribute
Jul 2009: first feature article published with Onya Magazine
Sep 2009: invited to cover Melbourne Spring Fashion Week
Oct 2009: first feature article published in Fashion Journal
Oct 2009: interviewed Australian singer Shannon Noll for Onya Magazine
Oct 2009: invited to cover Frankie Magazine Photo Book launch
Dec 2009: invited to cover Miss World 2010 Victoria Crowning Show
Dec 2009: first feature article published with X & Y Magazine

Feb 2010: continued second year of Masters
Mar 2010: invited to cover L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival
May 2010: media feature article published with Upstart magazine
May 2010: first feature article published with Desktop magazine
Jun 2010: started freelance journalism and copywriting business
Jul 2010: obtained first clients for freelance writing business
Jul – Sep 2010: completed online journalism internship with Desktop magazine
Sep 2010: approached by Fairfax Media and commenced contract journalism role
Nov 2010: completed Master of Communication (Journalism)

Thank you to everyone who has read my writing, shared it with others, passed on constructive criticisms and helpful feedback and supported my work. Without you, my readers, the articles I produce would be a pointless exercise so I cannot begin to express my gratitude.

I may not be a world class journalist or editor of a leading magazine just yet – there is still so much more for me to learn – but with continued dedication to follow my passion I hope to achieve further success in the near future.

And perhaps from here on I should remember to whisper a few words of encouragement to myself along the way.


© 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.

Why it’s been so quiet on this blog lately

Posted November 10th, 2010 by in

I thought it was about time to give my neglected blog some much needed attention. You may have noticed that it’s been unusually quiet around here over the past couple of months, and I haven’t posted anything since early September, but have a few very good reasons.

For anyone who is familiar with the Australian university curriculum, they can most certainly tell you that September is indeed one of the busiest periods of the second semester. You’re well and truly in the thick of study mode, working on major research projects and assessments all while trying to keep up to date with weekly class material. Given this was the lead up to the final month of my Masters program, it left me with no other choice than to create a tunnel-vision focus on that finish line which, at the time, never seemed to be anywhere in sight.

While completing the final weeks of my Masters I was offered a contract journalism role with Fairfax Media doing community news reporting. Between my existing day job, some freelance work, and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with Fairfax that I could not refuse, I proceeded to work full time while completing what was the most intense semester I have ever experienced. On top of this, my major research project demanded a lot of time which saw me sitting in computer labs at university until unheard of hours in the night editing video presentations and collecting research data only days before deadline. Now on the other side of it all, I can happily report that my postgraduate studies are finally out of the way and now resumes the recovery phase. Three weeks afterwards and I am still trying to catch up on sleep!

Having finished what I consider a rather big milestone and personal ambition, it has given me the chance to reflect on the last couple of years when I decided it was time to get serious about this journalism dream of mine. It wasn’t until I took the chance to reflect that I realised just how much I had achieved. Sometimes we get so caught up in the process of working towards goals that we rarely ever find the time to encourage ourselves along the way. At least, this was the case in my situation. Not once did I pat myself on the back, whisper words of encouragement or reward myself for a job well done. I suppose it’s easy to do when trying to remain focused on the end goal.

As one chapter finishes and new and exciting future opportunities present themselves, I want to take the opportunity to reflect on the past two years and share with you some of the important moments (and highlights) that have helped me get to where I am today:

Selection of Article Clippings 2009 – 2010

 

Jan 2009: enrolled in Master of Communication (Journalism) course
Mar 2009: joined Crossfire Magazine editorial team
Jun 2009: completed journalism internship at Geelong Advertiser
Jun 2009: approached Onya Magazine to contribute
Jul 2009: first feature article published with Onya Magazine
Sep 2009: invited to cover Melbourne Spring Fashion Week
Oct 2009: first feature article published in Fashion Journal
Oct 2009: interviewed Australian singer Shannon Noll for Onya Magazine
Oct 2009: invited to cover Frankie Magazine Photo Book launch
Dec 2009: invited to cover Miss World 2010 Victoria Crowning Show
Dec 2009: first feature article published with X & Y Magazine

Feb 2010: continued second year of Masters
Mar 2010: invited to cover L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival
May 2010: media feature article published with Upstart magazine
May 2010: first feature article published with Desktop magazine
Jun 2010: started freelance journalism and copywriting business
Jul 2010: obtained first clients for freelance writing business
Jul – Sep 2010: completed online journalism internship with Desktop magazine
Sep 2010: approached by Fairfax Media and commenced contract journalism role
Nov 2010: completed Master of Communication (Journalism)

Thank you to everyone who has read my writing, shared it with others, passed on constructive criticisms and helpful feedback and supported my work. Without you, my readers, the articles I produce would be a pointless exercise so I cannot begin to express my gratitude.

I may not be a world class journalist or editor of a leading magazine just yet – there is still so much more for me to learn – but with continued dedication to follow my passion I hope to achieve further success in the near future.

And perhaps from here on I should remember to whisper a few words of encouragement to myself along the way.


© 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.

Welcome to my new website!

Posted July 8th, 2010 by in

Copyright Sharon GreenHello and welcome to my new website! This has been part of a developing project over the past three months as I have been working towards launching my own freelance journalism and writing business. Of course, the website is still in its early stages and I’m sure lots of changes are still to come but I thought it was best to launch it now instead of putting it off to a later date.

Those of you who know me know that I am passionate about writing and producing high quality stories of a journalistic nature. I’m about to embark on my final semester at university and am working towards completing a Masters degree specialising in journalism and new media research. So it is here that I will document all things related to media and journalism that I feel are relevant to my studies, research and general interests. I’d also like to use this blog to share my articles with you as they are published, document experiences I encounter in the freelance writing world, and other thoughts or musings.

I welcome you to follow this blog and encourage you to help me spread the word. I recently read in an article posted on Journalism.co.uk that as a freelance journalist, it is important to:

Make everyone you know on earth fully aware that you are a journalist looking for work.

So I will publicly announce, here and now, that I am a freelance journalist available for work and seeking opportunities within the media industry. Tell everyone you know, for the power of word-of-mouth is great. This website is a testament to just that. I’m also keen to connect with like-minded entrepreneurs, writers and journalists via Twitter and welcome new followers to my profile @SharonJGreen.
Until my first official blog post, I welcome you and look forward to interacting with you online.

Sharon


© 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.