Before discussing what is ‘Freelance Journalism’, let us discuss what ‘Journalism’ denotes. ‘Journalism’, according to the Dictionary.com is “the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business.” So, journalists basically get themselves engaged in investigating, analyzing and presenting any issues, trends, events, matters that they think will relate the people anyway through any medium of expression which may vary from print, visual and non-visual(Radio), photography or any other form.
Dictionary.com defines the word ‘Freelance’ as “a person who works as a writer, designer, performer or the like selling work or services by the hour, day, job etc. rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer.” Now since freelance journalists are not whole time employees for any institution, they certainly enjoy a lot many advantages as follows:
- They can decide the time of their writing and its duration
- They can decide what they write about
- They can decide who they will work for
- They can decide the periodicity of their writing
- They can decide where they work from
Other Important aspects- the grey areas:
Well, it is not all bed of roses for the Freelancers. Since they enjoy the freedom much from the shackles of hazards of regular service, they are required to bear the burn of some issues -the bed of thorns for this career. Let us mention some of them below.
- They are required to seek their own market, meet different editors and negotiate for the fees for their work.
- As there is no compulsion to write regularly, self-motivation for writing is a nagging issue.
- Completion of the work in a time-bound manner within fixed submission time is also a matter to count where self-imposed discipline is the whole crux of the problem which is more difficult in nature.
- Self-Management of being self-employed is an issue. Organization and Administration of the whole gamut of the thing by only self-effort is not an easy task.
- Taking care of tax related matters is no less important.
- Keeping of detailed records sent to editors, the payment issues, issues that need persuasion and further follow-up, the issues that need to be closed – all these are the vexative parts which just cannot be brushed off.
- Planning of finances is an important issue. Since there is no regularity and permanency in income, depending of freelance journalism alone as a profession requires an expertise to plan for the low days when there may not be expected market. Besides the period of sickness and the holidays may be the grey areas because these periods may not be reproductive and hence remains unpaid.
What is needed to start a freelance Journalism:
- Choosing a preferable area is a first priority. One may not be equally efficient and may not have equal mastery in different areas. So, selecting one or two aspects where one might have an edge of excellence is crucial. Then concentrating on these selected aspects is what is essential.
- Honing the skills in next important thing. For this extensive and intensive reading is a must. Reading of different related books, magazines, write-ups, websites is required to be aware of the latest position in the respective field, to imbibe the art of expression etc.
- To master an inquisitive bent of mind. Developing a curiosity to the obvious is what should be motto.
- Make a wide practice to express your skill and domain knowledge. Presenting something in a manner attractable to thousands of persons is no less a matter and requires a regular practice and constant endeavor.
- Watching some related films on journalism may be a contributing factor. Joining some classrooms with the purpose of acquiring some techniques and skills in the respective areas may be a complementary venture.
- Marketing is a very important issue. One can acquire the expertise of best expression but unless they find room for publication/visualization- all efforts become futile. So for the purpose of marketing, build up slowly but assiduously a network of relationships and acquaintances. Prepare a nice web-site if possible and put your profile on-line. Keep a close touch and Interact on a regular basis with other freelance journalist friends.
- Send your work for publication/visualization on a daily basis to different editors, publication houses, visual medias so that some of them may catch the eyes of the respective authorities.
- ‘Organizing the work’ is very important so that no deadline is missed. One may chalk out his own plan in this respect considering his own volume of assignments and other tidbits related to the work. He may do well to make a review of his plan to assess whether it is being followed rigidly, where it is lacking, what needed to be done and make an amend accordingly.
- Managing the finance is also significant. A freelancer is not a natural accountant. But his work is a sort of business and he must learn to manage money. Since it takes time to build a niche in the market by a freelancer, he should be especially expedient in spending money. In short, he must maintain a balance between his income and expenses and make a plan in this respect also.
- Copyright matters are not be neglected also. Whatever is to be made or produced, the actual piece of work is the creation of the freelance journalist and obviously belongs to him and his property. So when he assigns his creation for some other house, it is prudent to clarify copyright issue at the outset so that one does not get duped unnecessarily.