I’ve been trying to figure out lately whether I’d like to become a freelance journalist. I’ve been reading a lot of people’s advice and about their experiences, and I feel like I could get into it gradually. It suits the kind of life I want in the future.
Thinking about the future, I’ve been wondering where I’ll be in a couple of years. The problem with working for one magazine is that it’s one subject all of the time. It’s taking me a while to get used to all the business and law jargon, and although I am enjoying it, it isn’t an area of journalism that I’d like to be working in forever. I’ve always been the type of person who likes to be doing a few things at once. So I think freelance is the way to go, and maybe in the future it could become a full-time thing.
But freelancing has always been something I’ve shied away from. It seems so scary and unfamiliar. We had a lot of lectures and ‘career development’ classes while I was a University. But they weren’t too encouraging.
Anyway, I’m not about to go crazy and give up my job just yet. I’ve read about a few people doing this, and in a lot of cases it hasn’t ended well. There are a lot of thing that people don’t think about, such as: if they have enough savings to keep them going until they start to make decent money; if they really want to be a writer, or just make money fast; and the main one, if they know where to start looking.
Content mills seem to be a problem for freelancers. From the little experience I have of them, they seem to be a lot of hard work for little return. I haven’t really bothered with them much because I’d rather get something published (even if I’m not getting paid) on a subject I actually want to write about. They just seem to want you to churn out 100s of article on the most boring subjects for terrible pay.
A blog I’m subscribed to, Make a Living Writing, has a very interesting post on them – The Reality of Writing for Content Mills. The real life experiences section of the article confirms what I thought. They take away the need for networking and in some cases I’m sure they could help to build up your client list. But with some of these websites you don’t even know where your writing is going, you don’t get recognition for your articles, and you get paid less than minimum wage.
The main problem I’m finding with thought of freelancing is pay. The things I’ve read, and all of the advice given has told me to not sell myself short. But it’s complicated, depending on the subject, word count, how experienced you are, and how much people are willing to pay. Some online magazines have set rates for articles. But other than that it doesn’t look professional saying, “Erm? Well how much for you want to pay?”
This is why I’m definitely starting off slowly, and learning the ropes around my current job. Any successes are a plus because I don’t need them; any failures can be learned from.
(Three blogs I’m subscribed to that have some great posts on writing)