The other sister to traditional journalism of full-time employment by a news organisation is freelance journalism. Freelancers, also know as ‘stringers’ in the news world, are their own boss and write for a variety of publications and media sources. To become a freelance journalist one must exert determination, hard work, discipline and openness. There’s no denying it – it’s a tough gig. Hypothetically, anyone can become a freelance journalist, as there are no rules or qualifications required, however talent will prevail and those with appropriate skills and experience will succeed far greater than the inexperienced.
Freelance journalism carries both positive and negative elements. Freelancers are able to be their own boss and determine their work schedule. They can work on a diverse range of projects stemming from individual passions and concerns. Travelling is an imminent aspect of freelance journalism; one can work from anywhere they desire. With hard work and determination, it can turn into a sustainable career. However, on the other hand freelancing can have negative prospects. A freelancer must maintain and build their business by dealing with taxes, accounting, bookkeeping, marketing, project management, etc. There is no steady paycheck with freelancing and unless one is constantly networking, there can be dry periods. Perhaps the greatest negative aspect of being a freelance journalist is you don’t necessarily own your work; you produce work, hand it over and that’s that. There is also a lack of security when it come health benefits with freelancing. Freelance journalists are at a disadvantage when to comes to benefits, pensions, and other rights given to full-time employees.
To be successful in the world of freelance journalism one must be determined to meet strict submission deadlines, find markets, contact editors and negotiate fees, keep careful records of work and clients, take care of the administration related to being self-employed, plan finances so sickness and holidays are covered for and most importantly, maintain motivation. Coupled with dedication and hard work, it is possible to be a successful freelance journalist and with the lack of guaranteed job opportunities in journalism today, freelancing may be an alternate option.