How Freelancers Have Handled the Transition Online

By Derrick Krusche @derrick_krusche 

The future of journalism is in online growth and development. As traditional media struggles to find a viable business solution in response to the rise of new media, freelance journalists are using the net to enhance their trade.

More markets are available

Margaret Simons, director of the Centre for Advancing Journalism at the University of Melbourne, believes the shift to online has benefited freelance journalists in a number of ways. “It opens up more markets,” she says. “It is now possible to publish material to international web-based publications. Freelancers can also now promote themselves and their work through social media in ways not previously possible.” 

How to publish online?

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are constantly increasing the potential reach of freelancers. Use a tool like bitly to reduce your link size, find suitable hashtags on the topic you’re writing about, and then start posting. 

For brands, the transition to online has opened up the possibility to commission writers from all over the world. “We are now competing internationally for work, rather than only against domestic contenders,” Simons says. 

Why freelance journalists shouldn’t work for free

Newsmodo locates freelance writers for clients that will pay for their work. Simons believes freelancers should not work for free, because their work has value. “It is reasonable for someone getting experience or in training to do some limited work for free, but if they are being used regularly by a publication, then they should be paid. An exception can be made, of course, for pro bono work or charity work, but even then my personal practice is to put a value on the contribution I am making, and send an invoice showing that I have waived a charge of a certain amount.”

Andrew CrookA former Crikey senior journalist: “Working for free is a tacit endorsement that the craft of journalism shouldn’t be valued,” he says. “Employers that encourage journalists to work for free should be cyber-picketed by journalists and boycotted by consumers.”

How to get started with Newsmodo 

All Newsmodo freelancers fill out an online profile in which they can state their personal area of expertise and any previous experience. Simons says it is important for freelancers to find a personal niche or brand, however, generalists also have a value. “The main thing is strong reputation in whatever field you are practising in.” 

Simons thinks freelancers have an advantage over journalists employed by organisations, because they have more licence to satisfy their curiosity and more ownership of their brand. “Freelancers are often more nimble and entrepreneurial,” she says. Crook says freelance journalists also have more flexibility. “Freelancers can work whenever and wherever the news takes them.”

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