Freelance Journalism: Expectations Versus Reality

By Hiba Naeem

Pov: you are lying on a hammock, somewhere on a sandy beach on a tropical island, making 1000$ a day. Such might be the expectations for freelance journalism beginners. While sipping piña coladas as you work on a journalistic piece may seem likely, it is also critical to keep such expectations in check with reality bites. Whether you are a veteran journalist considering a transition to freelancing or a beginner looking for insider tips on how to start a career as a freelance journalist, you will find this post equally useful as we at The Story Market look at some common expectations from a freelance journalist job.

You are your own boss

Freelance Journalism: Expectations Versus Reality

Freedom of where, when, and how to work is one of the main reasons why even experienced journalists opt for freelancing. Since the prospect of working from home is quite tempting, it is easy to get carried away with the expectation that freelance journalism comes without any responsibilities. The reality check here is that while a freelance journalist is free from being ‘micromanaged’, he or she will still have to accommodate their client’s needs. Yes, there is the sweet taste of freedom to pitch your very own story to different publications you would love to work with. However, client needs can dictate how a story is narrated or what can or cannot be approved. So, before you decide on a pitch, be certain that both you and the publisher communicate and understand each other’s demand from a project.

You decide how much you get paid

Another common expectation is that with self-employment you will have complete flexibility to decide how much you get paid. Though it is true that as a freelance journalist your payment varies compared to a regular employee, this assumption that only a freelancer decides how much he or she gets paid for a story is not entirely true. Often the choice of income rests on the client who decides and sets pay for a story, which can then be negotiated by the freelancer. And even once the payment is decided upon, for a beginner, it is crucial to manage finances as expenses, taxes and other ancillary costs also need to be accounted for. Since calculating income earned as a freelance journalist or understanding how payment methods, for different publishers, work can be daunting concerns for any beginner, understanding how salary, rates & income work can be looked more deeply into here.

Working hours are flexible

Freelance Journalism: Expectations Versus Reality

There are no work-hour restrictions as I can work for as little time as I want! The statement holds some truth as unlike a typical job, with freelancing there is no regular clocking in or clocking out. However, this demands more time management and responsibility on your part as clients set their own deadlines for projects and this, in turn, means more self-discipline. So, while you may enjoy working as a night owl on that story you are so passionate about, at your comfort, it also means having a due date to turn in the piece. We recommend making sure that deadlines are made clear when you sign the contract for a project, and you get plenty of time to start well ahead of due dates. Maybe even consider working with detailed to-do lists, daily journals, and timetables, especially if you are working on multiple projects simultaneously.  

Getting published is a hassle

Freelance Journalism: Expectations Versus Reality

The horrors of deciding which platform to work for or how to pitch a story can be rather real and often these detract beginners from the countless positives of working as a freelance journalist. But really it is a relatively easy practise once you understand the process of how to pitch an article to newspapers, which is based on a recipe that can be perfected with time. While there are numerous platforms that allow freelancers to publish their work, The Story Market is a marketplace that provides ease of transactions between publishers and journalists, minus the worry of how to approach publishers and syndicate articles.

You can work wherever you want

Now for another good news. The expectation that freelance journalism allows you to work remotely at your own comfort is widely true. Sipping on cocktails (or maybe even mocktails for the sake of your journalistic work) while bathing under the sun is not a distant dream if you are equipped with reliable internet and well-connected devices. Therefore, the environment and ambience are something freelance journalists can freely decide on. The transition to freelance journalism is one that makes for both a lucrative and creative outlook. But if you are a newbie and feel that you still have some questions left unanswered, feel free to check out more on our blog about how to become a freelance journalist here.

Read more about the future of journalism

Want to be first to get all the updates?

Subscribe to our monthly Newsletter with the latest things to know about our marketplace and Data Science.