Zoe Foster talks beauty writing

Posted November 21st, 2012 by in

She’s enjoyed ten years working in the beauty industry. She’s had an outstanding magazine career and worked for publications including Cosmopolitan, Harper’s BAZAAR, primped.com.au and Mamamia. And she is an award-winning novelist.

She is Zoe Foster.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Zoe at a beauty workshop held by Revlon at Myer, Melbourne. I took the opportunity to have a chat to her about her career as a beauty journalist.

Beauty guru Zoe Foster speaking at the Revlon/Myer makeup workshop. | Photo: Sharon Green

Beauty guru Zoe Foster speaking at the Revlon/Myer makeup workshop. | Photo: Sharon Green

When Zoe first started out in her journalism career she did not know that she wanted to be a beauty writer. She studied media and communications at university and on graduating she landed her first magazine gig at kid’s title Mania, before moving on to Smash Hits. She was then approached by Mia Freedman and asked to work as a beauty editor at Cosmopolitan, which Zoe says came about in an interesting way. “The reason Mia hired me was very telling – she said ‘you don’t know anything about this [beauty] and that’s going to bring a great tone to the magazine’.”

Zoe admits that this was the best way to start out with beauty writing, by knowing nothing about it at all, because it forced her to research harder and find out more about products. From her experience working in magazines, Zoe unveiled her passion for beauty and her willingness to share that information with others.

“I started my blog Fruity Beauty back in 2005, and blogging was very primitive back then. But it seemed to me like a good way to have a one-on-one conversation with women, because you learn so much as a beauty editor. You meet so many experts in the field and you learn so much. I just didn’t find there was enough space in the magazine [to explore all of this] so I took it online. You’re learning, you’re learning, you’re learning and as you go, you change what you think about things. So you’ve got to pick and choose what you think works for you.”

For those wanting to break into beauty writing Zoe advises keeping on top of the latest beauty trends, and attending makeup workshops and events is a great way to start. She recommends speaking to makeup artists as they are an excellent resource that aspiring beauty writers have access to at a makeup/beauty counter or at a department store. “A makeup artist can teach you so much, if you just sit down and have your makeup done. There are so many things you can learn from them.”

Zoe also believes it is vital to stay abreast with what is happening in the beauty industry. “Just keep writing. And keep reading – there are so many good blogs out there that you can read. To be a good writer, you’ve got to be a good reader.”

Me with the lovely Zoe Foster. | Photo: Sharon Green

Me with the lovely Zoe Foster. | Photo: Sharon Green

Following an exciting career working in magazines, Zoe seems to have carved her niche. She’s forged her own path, made a name for herself, and is now enjoying working on independent projects. “I’m always writing. I’m writing my sixth book at the moment. I’ve always wanted to have a column and write books and I’ve finally moved that way. So beauty is something I do for fun now. I write on Fruity Beauty and just have fun with it.”

Her book Amazing Face is a bible documenting all the tips and tricks Zoe has learned as a result of working in the beauty industry. “I wanted to realign how everyone was thinking about beauty. And it’s kind of got me back to basics. But a lot of women just need to get back to basics.”

But what is it about Zoe that makes her so likeable? Her quirky writing style, bubbly personality and impressive career undoubtedly have a lot to do with it. And, perhaps, the fact that she is taking things in her stride and is, as she puts it, “just having fun with it”.

The publishing microbusiness: tips to get started

Posted August 2nd, 2012 by in

Do you have an idea for a publishing microbusiness? | Image credit: blogupnorth.wordpress.com

Last week I attended a class organised by General Assembly London on how to launch your publishing microbusiness. The session was presented by British digital producer and journalist Adam Westbrook and looked at ways journalists, writers and producers can identify opportunities in entrepreneurial journalism and online publishing. It specifically looked at the microbusiness approach – that is, starting an intentionally small business.

Westbrook describes a microbusiness as “usually consisting of one or two people, working from home or from a shared workspace, being frugal, minimising overheads, concentrating on pleasing a small but loyal customer base and, as a result, being impressively profitable”. The idea of the microbusiness is to work quickly and with flexibility. It is nimble and experimental. There are generally no investors or shareholders in a microbusiness either, meaning decisions can be made faster, giving you the ability to please your audience or customers. The biggest problem mainstream media has is that they’re too big to adopt change quickly. Because a microbusiness is intentionally small they can be far more flexible in their approach and change as the markets do.

Because audiences are now segmented, there are opportunities to reach out to smaller and more interested readers, viewers and consumers. Westbrook said when he found that talking to smaller audiences online excited him more than broadcasting through mainstream media, he knew he had to explore the microbusiness approach.

Here are the top ten tips on how to launch your publishing microbusiness, as shared by Westbrook at the General Assembly session:


1. Find the intersection between:
– your passion/what you love
– what you’re good at (you need aptitude)
– the market

2. Help others
Your business idea needs to be about helping people. Does it inspire people? Does it give them confidence? Does it make their lives easier? Who is it that you’re going to help?

3. Have a manifesto
Have a view, vision or way of seeing the world that inspires others. Give your tribe/following something to believe in. Have a why – why do people need your product or service?

4. Scale up, then scale back
Turn your microbusiness idea up a notch and make it more ambitious and more exciting. Do something worth noticing. Then scale it down by asking yourself: what is the simplest way of achieving this goal at its rawest level?

5. Build a loyal tribe or following
People who have experienced success with their publishing microbusiness always have something in common: a community of followers built up over a period of time. This is the tribe they speak to and share information with. This tribe has also become loyal and they trust the person they follow because they see value in them or the information they provide. However, there is no shortcut to gaining this tribe or following – you can’t buy them or trick your way into it. This is a long-term gain but once you know who your tribe is you’ll know how to market to them.

“The secret to successful online publishing is to establish a viable, loyal tribe or following,” says Westbrook.

6. Product or service?
Define whether your publishing microbusiness idea is going to be a product or service. Products, such as e-books or online magazines, are more tangible and can have its advantages because it’s separate from you as an individual. Services, such as copywriting or video production, are quick to set up and mean you can offer your skills and expertise for hire.

7. Multiple revenue streams
Have as many streams of revenue as possible so you can make your microbusiness profitable. Can you sell a product, offer a service, charge a subscription fee, gain advertising or sponsorship, provide training, and hold events? Get creative in thinking about ways you can make a living from your profession.

8. Be a boutique, not a supermarket
Do one thing, and do it well. You’re better off focusing your efforts into doing one thing well than multiple things with poor effort. This is about quality over quantity. Nobody will be interested in your product or service if it lacks energy and enthusiasm.

“Do less but do it better. Publish something amazing every month/quarter rather than something average every day,” says Westbrook.

9. Bootstrap in the beginning
In the early days of launching your microbusiness try to do things as cheaply as possible. Avoid investors and debt – as soon as you have investors, you have the obligation of answering to them instead of focusing on your own goals and the needs of your audience. Westbrook suggests investing in assets (equipment, tools) and yourself (skills, education).

10. Have faith
You don’t need to know everything about your microbusiness and how it might evolve when you start. The important thing is to get it going. The perfect time will never come along so it’s best to get the wheels in motion sooner rather than later. You’ll also need the courage and commitment. These are two key ingredients for having a successful microbusiness. Courage means you might be scared of your idea but you do it anyway. And are you willing to commit to your business even through the tough times?


Adam Westbrook has written extensively on entrepreneurial journalism. Here are some great pieces of advice on getting your microbusiness started:
The rise of the microbusiness and why journalists should embrace it

Meet the Micropublisher: an interview with Thom Chambers


Why the future of journalism is entrepreneurial

Posted April 19th, 2012 by in

The future of news is entrepreneurial, not institutional. I believe journalists must become entrepreneurs
– Jeff Jarvis, American journalist and associate professor of New York’s Graduate School of Journalism.

The idea that news, and journalism, is moving into the entrepreneurial space is nothing new. Since the introduction of web journalism and online news, the way in which we create and disseminate content has changed. American journalist Jeff Jarvis and many others have shared this sentiment and spoken about the shakeup of the structure of news moving away from being dominated by large corporations and making way for new and smaller startups. This is not a discussion about the fate of news and journalism but rather one that looks to the optimistic future of it and how it will be built. Today, it’s not uncommon to come across many journalists that once worked for “the institution” but have now moved on to freelance careers or started their own business based on their newsgathering and production skills.

Broadcast journalist and TV presenter Marverine Cole. | Image credit: Clive Blair Photography

British broadcast journalist and TV presenter Marverine Cole says gone are the days where journalists start at a mainstream media organisation and stay on for 20 to 30 years. She sees future journalists with a mix of experience on their CV, with long and short contracts across a range of media. “Jobs are so few and far between these days that it’s inevitable people will have to be innovative about the way they get work and not be so choosy about what they do,” she says.

“The field of broadcast journalism is so much tougher out there now, so being multi-skilled is essential. Generally you’ve got to be a chameleon. It means then that you’ve a better chance of maintaining a source of income in one area if and when a contract ends elsewhere.”

Cole enjoys the variety of work that comes with freelancing. She runs an award-winning beer blog, presents TV news programmes, produces radio documentaries, conducts PR and media training and manages her own promo video company Funf Media with her husband. “It’s a big difference from when I was in a staff post as a Grade 5 Broadcast Journalist at the BBC where I was told what to do, what not to do, and when to do it. The freedom is great and I’m earning a great deal more than a Grade 5.”

Callum Scott, an associate professor at Melbourne University and Deakin University in Australia, has been freelancing for a number of years and teaches creative entrepreneurship to media and communications students. Scott enjoys the dynamic pace of the freelance lifestyle and hunting down the work himself. “I like working as a freelancer because I’m not a team player and freelancing is wonderfully unpredictable, which keeps me on my toes.

“I was simply sick of working for people and having to play by their and the company’s rules. Freelancing affords me the luxury of never having to compromise.”

Scott believes there are many opportunities available for the entrepreneur but warns that “it’s not a game for the faint hearted”. A freelancer needs to learn to think creatively, as well as critically, he says.

Multimedia journalist Adam Westbrook. | Image credit: vimeo.com/adamwestbrook1

Adam Westbrook, a multimedia journalist, blogger and media lecturer based in London, left his mainstream media job in September 2009 to embark on a freelance career and hasn’t looked back since. Westbrook enjoys the freedom that comes with being self-employed and having the opportunity to work on multiple creative projects simultaneously. “Being self-employed I’m in total control of what work I do and who I do it with, and in control of almost every minute of my working day. If I’m not excited by a project or a story I don’t have to do it. I think a lot of people end up freelancing as a stop-gap while they look for a ‘proper’ job, but they’re overlooking an opportunity to use this freedom and control to create something remarkable doing what they love.”

While Westbrook never considered himself to be much of “a business person”, he started exploring entrepreneurship because he was excited by all the opportunities he could create.

“This is a unique time we’re in where anyone can start a web-based business for less than $100 and the audiences and communities that you can create are growing. And when you start at it, you realise that entrepreneurship and journalism can sit side-by-side: they’re both extremely creative, and at their best are about helping people.”

Almost three years into freelancing and Westbrook is not only making a decent living but also living the lifestyle he wants. But despite his own success, he warns that taking the entrepreneurial route is not for everyone. “It’s always a risk, and you have to be comfortable with uncertainty, and the fact that most ideas fail. And that’s not for everyone.

“But if you don’t think you have a business mind, that doesn’t mean you don’t have the potential to create something. Five years ago I didn’t think I had a business bone in my body. If you have an idea for a project that you can’t get out of your head, just start, and start small. You’ll learn everything you need along the way. As Chris Guillebeau says: “Failure is a real possibility. Regrets are optional”.



What are your thoughts on the future of journalism as entrepreneurial? Have you taken the plunge and gone freelance? Did you succeed? Feel free to share your story in the comments section below.

How journalists can make the most of LinkedIn

Posted October 19th, 2011 by in

Credit: www.linkedin.com

Credit: www.linkedin.com

LinkedIn operates the world’s largest online professional network with more than 120 million members worldwide, including more than 6 million members in the UK and more than 2 million members in Australia. So how can journalists, in particular, make the most of this medium to attract work, promote themselves and their services, and build their online presence?

Australian LinkedIn expert Raz Chorev | Credit: www.razchorev.com.au

Australian LinkedIn trainer and author of 8 Steps to LinkedIn Success, Raz Chorev, says LinkedIn is not only a place to display one’s CV online, but a way to connect with other professionals, keep in touch with colleagues, clients and other business associates, and keep up to date with industry trends. LinkedIn, like most tools, requires practice in order to maximise return. “The more you use it, the better results you’ll get from it – whichever results you’re after.”

Journalists can use LinkedIn to contact sources and experts directly for interviews, says Chorev. “Using Introductions, Add Connections, or InMail (premium account feature), allows you to reach anyone on the LinkedIn network. Use it to expand your reach and influence.” Journalists can also get new ideas for news articles and features by observing what other people are interested in, talking about and sharing via LinkedIn. “You’ll be amazed at the depth of information your connections will share,” notes Chorev.

Journalists can keep up to date with the industry or topic they are writing about by connecting with companies, groups and contacts in these fields. According to Chorev, your network will share stories and articles which interest them and the most popular stories will appear on your home page, as a sample from LinkedIn Today’s news aggregation service powered by your LinkedIn network.

According to Chorev, freelance journalists can increase their chances of finding work by using LinkedIn to connect with editors at relevant publications and getting to know them through this online platform. Editors will often turn to their network when working on a story or when seeking contributors across certain topics. “Jump in and put your hand up when the opportunity arises,” advises Chorev. Another way to attract work via LinkedIn is to constantly update your profile. This keeps you “front of mind” in your network and means that when opportunities present themselves, editors or clients will be more likely to hire you because they remember that you’re there.

But all of the above advice would be futile without a proper, 100% completed LinkedIn profile notes Chorev. To take full advantage of LinkedIn you need to clearly state who you are and what you do in the header, include a professional head shot, list your professional experience, ask for recommendations from your connections, add skills and specialties, write a succinct career summary and don’t forget to include your contact details in the contact details settings.

UK LinkedIn expert Michelle Beckett | Credit: www.linked2success.co.uk

According to Michelle Beckett, partner of UK marketing and social media sales company Linked2Success, journalists can find new jobs or paid work through networking on LinkedIn. When it comes to seeking work or freelance commissions, Beckett suggests using LinkedIn tools to actively network. Features such as Groups, Advanced Search, and Q&A forums can assist in putting you in touch with people in your industry. On their LinkedIn profile, journalists can also choose to display whichever skills and past expertise will portray them in the best light to seek new work, adds Beckett. “Being bold enough to connect directly with potential new employers means that journalists can take control of their careers, using LinkedIn as a powerful tool.”

Beckett shares her top 5 tips for journalists using LinkedIn:

  • Make sure your profile or “global shop window” tells the viewer succinctly about your expertise and background
  • Build a substantial WIDE network – the more 1st degree connections you have, the more individuals you will be able to find for whatever reason you need them e.g. sources, experts, new clients etc
  • Join LinkedIn Groups and become known for commenting as an expert in a particular field you may wish to focus on. For example, you may be a medical journalist with specialist knowledge on that sector – use that knowledge to position yourself as a valuable contact within that sector
  • Use Advanced Search tool to source experts for comment and to find new work. Use it to create that “wish list” of whoever you need to “shake hands” with at that particular moment in time. E.g. editors, media recruiters, companies that outsource work to journalists etc
  • Use the Network Status updates to share links to your own articles as well as other relevant articles. “This will build visibility and help you attract new work”.

For further tips, journalists should view How Journalists Use LinkedIn or join the group LinkedIn for Journalists.


Have you had any success using LinkedIn as a journalist? Have you secured freelance commissions, found valuable contacts and experts, or other useful information on LinkedIn to assist you in your work as a journalist?


Civic journalism and why it matters

Posted October 12th, 2011 by in

I attended a public lecture at City University, London yesterday to hear Heather Brooke speak about civic journalism and why we need it.

What is civic journalism?
Before we jump into the key points made at the discussion, I want to clearly define what civic journalism is. Civic journalism, at its heart, is a belief that journalism has an obligation to public life – an obligation that goes beyond just telling the news or unloading lots of facts, according to the Pew Centre for Civic Journalism. It follows the notion that journalism can help empower a community or disable it. Civic journalism provides the people with the information they need to function in a democratic society.
Democracy Place defines civic journalism as “an effort to reach out to the public more aggressively in the reporting process, to listen to how citizens frame their problems and what citizens see as solutions to those problems… and then to use that information to enrich news stories.”

Heather Brooke | Image credit: http://heatherbrooke.org

Modern media is “morally bankrupt”
Heather Brooke opened the discussion on civic journalism and why it matters with this bold statement: “journalism is suffering an identity crisis.” She’s accused the modern media of being “morally bankrupt” and having lost touch with its core function of holding the powerful to account. “The ultimate moral bankruptcy of modern journalism is it’s forgotten its core purpose of informing the public.”

Journalism is one of the most important ways to change society and challenge power, noted Brooke. But she argued that “proper” journalism has been usurped by marketing, PR, and selling products, and journalists no longer look at courts, schools, and local councils – the very things that comprise civic life. “When profit becomes the main reason for journalism, journalism loses its public purpose,” she said.

Brooke said there is a real lack of “challenging journalism” today, highlighting the lack of reporting of justice in courts, as an example. The Royal Courts used to have 25 dedicated reporters. Currently there are only 4, and 2 at the Old Bailey (Press Association). Today, journalists in court are often treated in low level disdain, said Brooke.

Brooke cited another example: The Guardian, unlike politicians, used court reports to analyse the people behind the UK riots. However, they found it extremely difficult to obtain information on people who were charged during the riots because the [court] clerks wouldn’t allow access to court records. The Guardian eventually gained access to some of the datasets via the Ministry of Justice and cross-referenced addresses of those charged with riot locations. Prior to this, the court registers had never been requested before. Does this mean that the bureaucracy prevents journalists from holding power to account? It was discovered that police incidence reports, fire inspection reports, and parliament reports are still not public. Brooke questioned: why is this case? She expressed her outrage at this and asked how the UK media, who are supposedly aggressive, could not be asking these basic questions. “Journalists are meant to be finding out where power exists and challenging them with questions.” Because of these factors, said Brooke, people don’t feel like the media represents their interests anymore.

“If you really want to be a journalist, you have to invest in fighting for the information that’s in the hands of the powerful. If the information was easy to get, everyone would have it.” –  Heather Brooke.

Brooke said the growth of new media, where everybody is now a journalist or can be a journalist, makes it hard for readers to know where to go to find a trustworthy and reliable news source. So how did we get to this state in journalism? “We treat journalism like any other business, like a widget in a factory… News is just not like that,” answered Brooke. Readers now seek out news sources that have proved reliable and have stopped going to sources that have failed on this front. Brooke also noted that professional journalists, who are needed now more than ever, can differentiate themselves through their brand and their reputation to verify news. Only then can the public turn to media they know can be trusted. As a reminder, Brooke cited the tagline of The Uptake, a citizen-fuelled online news gathering organisation: Will journalism be done by you or to you?

Where to from here?
Importantly, journalists will lead the way with change. We’re seeing shifts in the way people are thinking about power. Brooke reminds us that as journalists, we need to remember our public purpose. “Journalists will lead the way if they stay close to the people. We need to remember the public,” she said.


What are your thougths on the importance of civic journalism in today’s society? Do we need it now, more than ever?

Findings from the 2011 Freelance Industry Report

Posted September 15th, 2011 by in

Source: 2011 Freelance Industry Report by Ed Gandia

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.”


Source: 2011 Freelance Industry Report


> 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/

Creating an online presence: tools for journalists

Posted June 9th, 2011 by in

Launching your online presence. Image credit: lapideo

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:

1. Twitter
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.

3. Delicious
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.

4. Flickr
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.

6. WordPress
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?

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.

Career highlights: Meeting Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Posted April 25th, 2011 by in

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.

PM Julia Gillard views construction site at The Alex Fraser Group. Image credit: Sharon Green

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.

PM Julia Gillard doing site visit. Image credit: Sharon Green

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.

PM Julia Gillard speaks to the press. Image credit: Lucy Aulich

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.

I thank PM Julia Gillard for answering my questions. Image credit: Lucy Aulich

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!

Happy Snap: Me with the Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Image credit: Lucy Aulich

To read the article I wrote for the Wyndham/Point Cook Weekly regarding the Prime Minister’s visit to Laverton North, click here.

© 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.

Fashion Torque: a discussion about fashion journalism

Posted March 15th, 2011 by in

Fashion Torque's Jenny Bannister and Philip Boon. Image credit: Fashion Torque

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 Café 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 – both fashion journalists working in Melbourne. The Herald Sun’s Fashion Editor Anna Byrne and Style Melbourne’s Sarah Willcocks were both there to tell us about their journey through a career in fashion journalism.


L-R: Jenny Bannister, Sarah Willcocks, Anna Byrne. Image credit: Business Chic

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 it’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. “Style Melbourne fills a niche,” she said. Sarah’s writing career has also leaned towards a lot of copywriting because, she admits, this is an area that tends to pay. “A lot of online start ups can’t pay,” she noted.

Philip Boon leads the discussion on fashion journalism. Image credit: Business Chic

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. “Fashion is not just about the writing, it’s about doing the hard work and socialising. So little of my time is actually spent writing the story,” 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: “When people are approaching you to work for them for free… that’s where you draw the line.”

Sarah Willcocks (middle) and Anna Byrne (far right) share details about their journalism career. Image credit: Business Chic

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, there’s also the question around main stream media and blogging that entered the conversation – 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 “top notch, investigative and original content.”

While the discussion wasn’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.  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.

Fashion Torque is held every Thursday evening at Globe Café in Prahran. Details, visit: www.facebook.com/FashionTorqueShow or http://twitter.com/fashiontorque

Images thanks to Business Chic