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6 Essential Tips To Become A Freelance Journalist

If you’re looking to make a career out of freelance journalism, you’ve come to the right place. Do you want to become a freelance journalist? We got you.

Freelance journalists are an interesting bunch. They have to be able to write on a wide variety of subjects. They must be able to write in a way that is engaging, compelling, and accurate. They also have to be able to write in a way that makes the reader feel like they are getting information and entertainment.

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We know how hard it can be to break into an industry saturated with professionals and new writers. We’ve been there ourselves! But we also know that if you want to succeed, you need to work hard—and we’re here to help.

In this post, we’ll share tips on becoming a freelancer and making it in the world of freelance journalism.

What Is a Freelance Journalist?

Freelance Journalist Typing On Laptop On Table With Cup Of Coffee And Notebook

To put it simply, a freelance journalist is a self-employed writer. They write for many publications on a contract basis, whether a one-off piece or a series of articles for a certain publication. Freelance journalists charge by the hour or the project, while freelance writers and journalists charge by the word.

Freelance writers compile relevant news and information for the benefit of their readers. Hence single news outlet does not employ freelance journalists. They are distinct from more traditional journalists.

See Related: Best Freelance Skills to Learn

What to do if you want to start freelance journalism

Someone Typing On A Computer

The work of a freelance journalist differs from that of a blogger or a copywriter for a business. Here are the things you need to do if you want to pursue this freelance career.

Have the Necessary Skills

Becoming a freelance journalist requires you to have strong writing skills. Achieving a bachelor’s degree in English is not necessary to achieve. However, you should have excellent written and verbal communication skills.

You must also be comfortable and knowledgeable with the computer. If you don’t have these abilities already, you’ll need to work on developing them.

To succeed, freelance journalists must be able to tell stories in a way that draws in readers and keeps them interested until the end. Learn by doing on your blog. Writing fiction is a great way to hone your skills in this area, as long as you intend to learn how to create stories.

Develop Your Reading Habits


It would help if you became a voracious reader before becoming a freelance journalist. To get a sense of what people want journalists to read, it’s a good idea to read publications, websites, and emails from sources you wouldn’t ordinarily consider.

Create a Web page

Hands Typing On A Computer

The first step is building a website to display your writing samples and portfolio. This site may consist mostly of your blog and not much-compensated content creation. Connect your online portfolio to the many pieces of work that bear your name.

By sending them to your site, you may show editors and publishers that you’re serious about writing. Search engine optimization to increase the site’s visibility and, by extension, its traffic may help your business find new customers online.

Learn the Art of Client Acquisition

Man Trying To Acquire A Client

News stories are what freelance journalists aim to create. Note they don’t write the promotional material that the ordinary copywriter produces. You need to perfect your pitch if you want to attract customers.

If you want your pitch published, ensure it fits the publication’s tone and covers some of its favorite themes. Directing them to a website where they may read your writing samples would be best. Because most authors only get a “yes” from around 10% of their pitches, it’s important always to be sending them out.

Start connecting with Prospective Clients

Gmail On A Laptop

A freelance career in journalism requires more than just the ability to write well. Connect with the publications you’ll send proposals to once you receive approval.

If your work is popular, editors may approach you in the future with story suggestions. This means you no longer have to worry about developing story ideas independently. You can instead focus on writing the stories presented to you.

To establish trust with a customer, you must first learn about them. Like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter. Examine the content they publish, and get in touch if your story interests their audience.

Freelance journalist skills you need

Interviewing A Person, Laptop And Recorder On Phone On

Every freelance journalist needs to have at least these skills. You’ll need to get good at the following six things if you want to be a successful freelance journalist:

The truthfulness of the press

Journalists with integrity follow a code of conduct and a set of rules widely accepted as the norm in the field. Any piece of writing, like an investigation, news story, review of a product or service, or feature article, depends on the author’s ability to present facts honestly and ethically.

Telling the truth is the cornerstone of journalistic ethics and honesty. Journalistic writing is based on real events and is written with honesty. This protects the reader’s interests and keeps the author’s employer and field’s credibility.

Maintain editorial autonomy

The news organization can choose the stories to cover and which to leave out without outside pressure or interference. This is what editorial autonomy means in journalism.

A freelance journalist writes accurate articles. You can do this by doing thorough research, talking to credible witnesses, and confirming what they say. This code of ethics ensures that the information they read is accurate. This ensures that people can make smart decisions and have well-rounded views.

Storytelling abilities

The author should keep the reader interested by telling a good story and using good English. It’s against the rules for them to use the feelings of the reader or translator to trick them or get more people to listen. Journalists and independent writers shouldn’t publish stories that are meant to be shocking on purpose.

Writing, proofreading, and editing skills

Woman Using A Laptop

When we say that someone has good writing skills, we mean that their grammar, syntax, and tone are all good. As a freelance journalist, you need to be able to put your ideas together in a way that is both interesting and makes sense. Your written word should be easy to remember, and you should be able to give clear, concise information.

Before an article is put out in print, it must be edited. This process also includes fixing grammar and reorganizing. Before management reads it, the work of journalists on a staff writing team is checked by editors. Because they don’t have many resources, freelance journalists must be great editors.

Before submitting their work for review, freelance journalists have to check it for mistakes. They also need to ensure it fits the publication’s writing style.

Time management

Two Hourglasses Beside A Computer, Time Management

Freelance reporters and editors work together to plan when they will do their jobs. Once a freelance writer has worked with several publications, they must stick to a strict schedule for sending in their work. They should also make plans for interviews, research, and evaluating the sources.

In the publishing business, time is of the essence. No matter their job, freelance journalists will always have to meet strict deadlines. It could be a few hours, days, or weeks after the job is given. You must finish, edit, and turn in your work on time as a freelance journalist.

Being able to take criticism well

Two Serious Men Using Their Laptops

Freelance journalists often get feedback from management, editors, staff writers, and other professionals in the field. Depending on where an author’s articles appear, readers may also be able to comment on them. If you want to be a successful freelance reporter or journalist, you need to be able to take criticism and do something about it. Someone good at this doesn’t let criticism change their thinking or acting. Instead, they use the advice to make their writing better in the future.

Being able to sell yourself

Closing A Deal

Self-promotion means letting people know about your skills and strengths. Freelance journalists need to promote themselves to get jobs and make a living. You must use social media, networking events, and word of mouth! Meet other experts in their field and find out about freelancing opportunities.

You can promote yourself as a freelance reporter or journalist by making a website. You can use it to show your best work and describe your services. Freelancers must also use email to contact publishers and post on job boards to find work. You must do everything you can to secure your prospective clients.

See Related: Best Freelancing Tips for Beginners

How to become a freelance journalist

Journalists Seated, Taking Notes

Whether you’re looking for an exciting new career or just want to make some extra cash on the side, becoming a freelance journalist is one of the best ways to achieve both goals.

But what does it take to become a freelance journalist? How can you start your own freelance journalism business and get paid for writing articles? Here’s everything you need to know about becoming a freelance journalist.

1. Obtain an academic degree and be an active writer

Books Stacked, Notebook With A Pen On It

The pursuit of a career as a freelance writer sometimes needs no more than a high school diploma. However, a limited professional history can be overcome by a bachelor’s degree in a related discipline for authors. To succeed as a freelance journalist, get a bachelor’s degree in a related field. You can choose from degrees such as English, Journalism, Communications, or Marketing.

Start sending your writing to regional magazines while you’re still in school. There is probably a school newspaper or literary journal on your campus. By collaborating with other authors and publishers on campus, you may learn what kinds of things publishers seek in freelancing work.

Send in your essays, blogs, and short stories. Doing so will provide valuable experience and teach you to take criticism well. Another option is to send your work to print publications on a regional level.

To have confidence before starting your journalism career, join contests! Publishing venues, including newspapers, periodicals, and small presses, frequently host writing competitions. A writer’s work can be submitted to these contests. You can get a financial reward, recognition, and enhanced portfolio benefits for being the winner!

2. Put together a portfolio right away.

Online Portfolio Layout

A portfolio is a collection of your best writing samples. Although a physical portfolio is acceptable, an online portfolio is preferable. It allows you to reach a wider audience, show your abilities to possible employers, and inform potential clients about the range of services they provide.

Include links to online published articles you have written. Feel free to highlight works from a variety of genres! You may establish a blog if you’re having trouble getting your publishing career off the ground.

3. Always Have an Idea File Ready

Woman Showing Her Work On The Laptop

Particularly if you are wondering how to become a freelance journalist, you never know when an opportunity will come your way.

Therefore, ensure that you can record new stories, ideas, and research that you can use for future articles.

Then, have an idea file already, usually referred to as a “swipe file,” that you can use if someone expresses interest in you. Professional journalists usually have a file on hand where they store research, snippets, and other interesting articles that they can use to show interested parties.

If you demonstrate that you are always prepared, you have a better chance of winning future gigs. You can use numerous applications to store your research on a mobile device. Then, whenever someone expresses interest in you, you can pull it out and swipe through a few ideas. This might happen in person, or it could be done virtually. The overall goal in the situation is to ensure that you are always prepared. You never want to let an opportunity pass you by if you try to make it as a freelance writer or journalist.

Pro Tip: Download a mobile application that you can sync with your desktop computer. Then, store relevant research and article ideas in this note-taking application. Try to include a few pictures as well. If someone asks you for ideas, you can simply open this app on a mobile device and show your ideas to interested parties.

See Related: Best Freelance Writing Jobs

4. Improve your skills

Woman Wearing Gray Sweater Writing, Scattered Paper, Cup Of Coffee

Writing proficiency may be honed by reading, writing, listening to lectures, and getting feedback from other writers. Your proficiency levels should progress with your career and body of work. If you work as a staff writer, your manager or supervisor will most likely prioritize your personal and professional growth. To be a successful freelancer, you need to make developing yourself a top priority.

5. Explore All of the Options Available To You

Flexjobs Logo

One of the most common mistakes people make when trying to become a freelance writer is they only use one tool.

For example, some people might only use their email to communicate with potential clients. While there is nothing wrong with using email, there are better ways to get clients.

For example, plenty of online platforms offer a list of freelancing gigs that people can use today to get in touch with people who need the help of a freelance writer. 

For example, one of the biggest platforms that people can use to find clients who need the help of a freelance writer is called FlexJobs. It is one of the biggest sites in the world for flexible jobs. If you are wondering how to become a freelance editor, FlexJobs could be the answer.

If you are wondering how to become a freelance writer or a freelance journalist, this is one of the essential platforms you should check out.

At the same time, there are numerous other freelance writing platforms that you can use as well. Depending on the type of writing that you want to perform, there are multiple platforms available to you that you can use to establish working relationships with clients and build up a strong base that you can use to support yourself as you get your career off the ground.

Pro Tip: Try to set up a profile on multiple platforms and make sure that your availability is as open as possible. That way, potential clients will never hesitate to contact you if they need work. You should get an email notification and will be able to respond quickly.

See Related: Best Freelance Content Writing Websites

6. Put yourself out there and build your network.

Social Media Apps On Phone

You may expand your professional networks and promote your work through blogging, making videos, and using social media. Creating a personal brand and brand statement is also recommended.

Your professional social media profiles, business cards, and online portfolio might benefit from integrating your brand statement. Joining writing forums, attending conferences, and talking to people in person are other great ways to expand your network.

Be a freelance journalist!

You’ve read the article; now it’s time to take action! Becoming a freelance journalist is a great way to meet your needs and contribute to the world. It’s not easy, but it can be very rewarding.

To start as a freelance journalist, you need to have experience writing for some sort of publication. You must also know how to use social media to promote your work and build your audience base.

If you’re looking for more hands-on experience, try contacting local newspapers or magazines in your area and ask if they have any internship opportunities. Internships are an excellent way to build up your portfolio while also getting valuable experience on the job.

Once you’ve got the basics down, you can begin building up your portfolio and finding clients who will hire you for specific jobs or projects!

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