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What Makes Freelance Journalism Different from Ordinary Journalism?

There’s one big difference between freelance journalism and ordinary journalism and that’s who you work for. When you are an ordinary journalist you will work for a company and receive a salary for your working week – much like any other job.

When you are a freelance journalist you are essentially self-employed – your own boss – so you send your work to whichever publication you want to write for and you are paid for each piece of writing that they publish.

The Good Things About Being A Freelance Journalist

There are advantages and disadvantages to working as a freelance journalist. Being freelance means you are your own boss choosing:

  • who you work for – you get to choose the publications you target. So, if you have a particular area of interest, you can concentrate on sending your writing to magazines and newspapers that publish that kind of work.
  • when you work – if you work better in the afternoons you can choose to do that. If you need to have every Wednesday afternoon off you can, and if you want to go on holiday for two weeks you can without having to fit your holidays around work colleagues or clearing it with your employer first.
  • how often you work – you may want to earn a substantial salary, in which case you’ll have to work long hours. Or you may only want to earn enough to pay your rent, food and bills which may require only a few hours work per week. The important thing here is when you are freelance you choose.
  • what you write about – you make all the decisions about what you write about. You can write about health issues for six months and then when you feel like a change you can write about pets for six months and so on.

 

And, being a freelance journalist also means you get to lead a very interesting life. You’ll be meeting lots of different people, often being able to go where others can’t, such as behind the scenes at a concert or into organised press conferences. You could be interviewing a local celebrity one day and sampling the delights of a four star restaurant for a review the next – the choice really is yours.

The Other Things You Have to Think About

However, there are some other important considerations to take into account when you are considering being a Freelance Journalist, such as:

  • irregular income – this is normal as some months you may have five articles accepted, some months you may have nothing accepted for publication. However, careful planning and budgeting should ensure that this does not become a problem.
  • unpaid holidays – being freelance means you only get paid when you work. So, unlike salaried positions, you will not have any paid holidays. Again, careful planning and budgeting is the way to accommodate for holidays. And, of course, there’s always the possibility of writing an article about the place you are visiting.
  • unpaid sick leave – if you become ill and cannot write you will have to use your savings to live off, so plans must be put in place to cover this eventuality. As above, careful planning and budgeting can resolve this issue.
  • having to work out your own National Insurance and tax contributions – you’ll soon earn enough to employ an accountant to do this for you. But, until you do, you will have to factor time into your day for this task.
  • you have to keep accurate and detailed accounts – as above.
  • you have to run your own business – this can mean sending out invoices, chasing payments and all the other administration that goes with it.

 

Luckily, everything detailed above can be learnt with only a little time and effort and a good freelance journalism course.

If you want to find out more about being a freelance journalist request a free Writers Bureau Freelance Journalism prospectus.

 

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Cathal Coyle

"My short-term intention is to continue combining writing for newspapers and magazines with my current job. I'm enjoying my writing 'sideline' but I may find as time goes on that I want to make the transition to full-time writer."

Cathal Coyle

 
Association of British Correspondence Colleges
British Institute for Learning and Development

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