How to make the most of your summer
Whether you're studying or just starting out these tips are for you
The summer holidays are almost here and for many university students have already begun. To help you make the most of the time, we’ve put together a list of things you can do to keep things ticking over on the journalism front over the coming months.
Before we get into our recommendations, the first thing to say is make sure you take time to reflect and recharge those batteries after what has been a crazy and difficult year. Why not catch up with those friends you haven’t seen for ages or start that book you’ve been meaning to read. Knowing when to press pause is key to achieving a healthy work-life balance and can be a great way to stay motivated.
Once you feel ready to tackle some freelancing, here are 5 ways to make the most of your summer.
1. Sort out your branding
The first thing we recommend you do is to fine-tune your branding. This means making sure you have a professional profile picture across your social media (editors don’t want to see photos of you drunk on a night out) and a consistent message describing who you are and what you do. Consider growing your presence on other social media sites such as TikTok, Pinterest or Reddit. The more platforms you are on, the more visible you are to editors. Finally, set up a website, portfolio or put key links in your Twitter bio to showcase your content. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to quickly find your work. It’s no use to anyone if it’s hidden. Also make sure your LinkedIn profile is fully filled in. For more advice on using LinkedIn, check out our podcast on this very topic.
2. Start an ideas spreadsheet
Let’s be honest, who hasn’t had a killer idea pop into their head at ten to midnight, only to have completely forgotten about it the next morning. It’s so frustrating. Well why not solve this problem by setting up an ideas spreadsheet. That way you can keep a record of all those projects that come to you at the most random of times. It’s also a really handy document to go back to when thinking of articles to pitch or coming across editors seeking ideas.
3. Sign up to jobs newsletters
Signing up to a jobs newsletter is a no brainer for anyone who likes to stay on top of all the journo opportunities that are out there. ‘Freelance Writing Jobs’ by Sian Meades-Williams is a newsletter we’d certainly recommend, with dozens of opportunities for freelancers posted every week. Another one to sign up to is Journo Resources, especially if you’re applying for grad schemes and need reminding of the deadlines. For those of you who want all angles covered then check out the Media Beans newsletter. It’s got jobs, internships, fellowships and deadline dates, sent to your inbox every Monday. There are many others available - have a hunt around to find those that meet your needs.
4. Search for publications wanting to commission
Time to put those investigative skills to the test. We’d suggest using your time over the summer to search Twitter and Facebook groups for publications looking to commission work. To get you started, you can find loads of pitching opportunities on the Young Journalist Community (Facebook), The Freelance Sessions (Instagram) or PressPad (Instagram). You can also use #CallForPitches on Twitter as a shortcut, but we never told you that. You can also seek out Freelancing for Journalists across all these platforms. Top tip - if you say yes to our rules you will get access to our Facebook community quicker.
Once you’ve found publications wanting to commission, the next thing to do is start pitching to them. Pitching is a great way to test out your ideas and can lead to future employment opportunities. But remember, before you email that editor, make sure you’ve researched their publication and check they’ve not done the article already. In the email, quickly introduce yourself and then get into what the story is about, why now is the right time to tell it and what experts or case studies you have to back it up. You want to catch editors at the right time so our advice would be to pitch in the mornings.
Thank you to our intern Freddie Hall who has helped put together our summer newsletters. He has done a fantastic job.
If you’re keen to learn more, check out our new 20-page Quick Guides on topics such as Finding work and pitching and Developing ideas and finding sources. Packed full of resources and advice, there is also one on Finances and contracts and coming soon is Branding and networking.
Looking back over our most popular podcast episodes
This summer we’re going to delve into the archives and have a look at our most popular podcast episodes to date. Let’s see what has grabbed your attention the most. First up is one that immediately muscled its way into the top rankings. In What commissioning editors want, we discuss pitching techniques, reliability and writing skills with The Observer deputy news editor Lisa Bachelor and Pulse magazine editor Jaimie Kaffash. Listen here or wherever you get your podcasts.
Keep an eye out for…
We wanted to take this chance to flag up a new project from some colleagues of ours. The need for a diverse media has never been needed more than right now. Introducing the Disability Collab, a new initiative for disabled freelancers everywhere. A new podcast is coming soon, as well as a newsletter, mentoring and more. You can subscribe to the podcast here for all regular updates.
What’s coming up
Lily and Emma will be taking a big old break over the summer but series 6 of the podcast will be coming in the autumn and our next lunchtime webinar on Wednesday 8th September will be on Developing ideas and pitching. You can grab your ticket or find our more information by clicking on the link below.
Triumph of the week
Finishing a pile of work ready for our summer holidays including a grant proposal as well as a ton of FFJ and other deadlines. And relax….
That feeling when…
An editor offers an extra fee when they come back with a load of edits, requests for more info on an article. They’re the ones you’re going to want to work for again!
Do keep sending in your Listener Dilemmas for us to answer in series 6 of the podcast which we are starting to record very soon.
Either post a message in our Facebook Community or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bye for now!