Freelance writing tips

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Thread: Freelance writing tips

  1. #1

    Freelance writing tips

    I've recently decided I'd like to pursue a career in freelance writing. I have a lot of information on it, but I'd appreciate any advice.
    Firstly, how to go about getting experience. I may have a job lined up writing for an online newspaper, but the articles are more like blurbs (around 100-300 words) and would only cover things like local news, events, or traffic news.
    I have an undergraduate politics degree and a postgraduate philosophy degree, would these help?
    Finally, how do I go about deciding which area to write about, and should I focus on several different areas?

    Many thanks,

  2. #2
    You get experience by writing for local markets. If you still have a daily newspaper where you live that's the best place to start. Do not go and ask them. Write a couple of articles about local events - not events the regular reporters cover by the out-of-the-way community news items that aren't worth a paid reporter's time but are worth the space if the story lands on the editor's desk when he's looking for a bit of local fill. If you have a camera use it to add visual interest to the story. Do not expect to be paid at first. Your pay will be in the experience you gain that will be yours to keep forever.

    The first story I ever had published was about a weekend scout trip. I wrote a bit over 700 words, which was trimmed back a bit and re-arranged a bit. With it were two pictures of kids setting up tents. The editor ran one of the pictures with the story. That was the start of my writing career. I was 14.

    A local radio station is also a good place to start. Get yourself a little digital voice recorder, go to city council and water board meetings. Record the statements and discussions. Do not use subterfuge. If there are press people there take your lead from them. If they set up mics, placd your voice recorder a foot or two in front of the mayor's nose. If he does not want you to record him he will tell you so and you take it away, but you will have established the fact that you are a freelance journalist. You can discuss with the mayor later what he allows and what he does not allow. Don't stand on any 'freedom of the press' ideals. Play ball. That's how you get officials to open up and tell you more than they would ever tell you if you come across as a problem.

    Get a good audio editor for your computer. Sound Forge is probably the best, but Audacity does everything a journalist needs and is easier to use. Plus it's free, if there are economic issues to be resolved as you migrate into the world of freelance writing. Carry a notebook and two mechanical pencils with extra lead, never a ball-point.

    Listen to news broadcasts on your local station to hear how they handle inserts - the bits from the mayor's ramble that you want to include because they almost make sense. Talk with the news director at the local radio stations about bringing them some stories. It's best if you just happen to '...have one of them here on this USB drive if you'd like to give a listen'. Make it a one minute story with 30 seconds of insert.

    Be sure to talk with the good folks over at the little coffee pot country station that still does an all day memorial tribute to Hank Williams every New Year's Day. They don't have a paid news director. Somebody on staff, often the manager, will pick up the Police blotter once a day and scrape up enough other local news to fill five minutes. Your offer to help out will be appreciated when you explain you want to learn to be a freelance writer and you'll start working just to get the experience.

    By the time I graduated high school at 16 I was stringing for half a dozen newspapers that had regional distribution. But I didn't start with one of the major papers. I started with the little local daily, got all the advice the editor and reporters were willing to give, and learned the craft from the ground up.

    You need to learn two styles of writing, the inverted pyramid and the essay. The inverted pyramid is for the local daily newspaper. The essay style is for radio, tv, and magazines.

    So stop thinking about it. Do it. Go forth and write.
    El día ha sido bueno. La noche será larga.

  3. #3
    It's a good choice.

    I will suggest you to pick the best you know.


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