Ten New Year's resolutions for freelancers
And a timely podcast on negotiating rates
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The New Year is a good time for a fresh start and getting some new positive habits in place. Over at FFJ headquarters we were pondering what would be a good New Year’s resolution for freelance journalists and we came up with ten small achievable ways you can make your working life easier, gain motivation, be more organised or even give something back.
1. Pitch to a new publication
It’s all too easy to stick to your comfort zone and the editors you know, especially for more established freelance journalists. This year how about pitching to someone new, perhaps on a topic you don’t usually write about? We have a podcast episode on writing for your dream publication coming out next week so watch this space.
2. Join a new network or journalism organisation
We would argue that networking is even more important for freelancers than those in staff jobs. Find a new group you’d like to be part of either online or virtually and get stuck in. If there isn’t one in your field or area, maybe it’s time to start one. If you’re not already on there, try the Freelancing for Journalists community and if you’re already a member ask for advice about where else you can connect with other journalists.
3. Get a mentor or offer to be one
If you’re just starting out, getting a mentor can be invaluable. Women in Journalism are among the organisations offering schemes (Journo Resources have a list). If you’re more experienced why not offer to be a mentor. You could always sign up to take part in our Journalism Work Experience and Mentorship Scheme which will be running again in March. Time to share some of that hard earned wisdom perhaps?
4. Enter an award
You have to be in it to win it so get your work entered for an award (Journo Resources have also done the hard work for you on this one) because no one else is going to do it for you. As well as the prestige, there are sometimes also cash prizes and you might get to go to a fancy do and network with others in your industry.
5. Have a coffee with an editor
Whether virtual or in real life, ask for a quick cuppa and chat with an editor to find out what they want and how you can make their life easy. Emma and Lily have both done this in the past year and it’s proven very useful all round. Here’s our newsletter on how to make this work.
6. File your tax return early
Let this year be the year you treat yourself to getting your tax return done and out of the way immediately (how about end of May deadline for UK readers). This time next year you will be very grateful that the past version of you was this organised.
7. Sort your pension
If you don’t already have a pension now is the time to get one in place even if you start off small. It’s never too late to start and burying your head in the sand is not going to help. Emma’s goal this year is to finally move from a Nest pension to something that is likely to pay greater dividends down the road. Don’t know where to start? Listen to our podcast on this very topic.
8. Learn a new skill
Making time to learn a new skill that can support your freelancing can boost your options in the long term. Perhaps brush up on SEO or take a photography class. Maybe you could learn how to do an FOI request? Remember that training is a tax deductible expense.
9. Do a self appraisal
Take the time to ask yourself, what do you enjoy about your work, what would you like to do more of, what gives you the most satisfaction and what work is the best paid? Stepping away from the treadmill for a minute to ask yourself what you want from your career is incredibly valuable. Perhaps its a four-day week you’re craving or more holiday time. Maybe you want to change the type of work you do. Listen to Emma and Lily talk through how to do a self-appraisal in this bonus podcast episode.
10. Negotiate your rate upwards
Pay can be very stagnant in freelance journalism but if you don’t ask you don’t get. It could be you ask for more on a specific article that has taken a lot of work or needs a fast turnaround. Or you could ask for an increase in the word or day rate for a publication you do a lot of work for. Believe us, it is possible to do this. And as if by magic this is the very topic of this week’s podcast. See below for the link.
New podcast episode
This episode looks at how to negotiate and when to push back against poor rates.
We chat with Elle Hunt, who writes for the Guardian but also has bylines in Tortoise, New Scientist and Grazia and Tayla Blaire, a freelance content and copywriter based in South Africa. They both have excellent tips and strategies about the best way to negotiate.
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Triumph of the week
Making it through the first day back at the desk in one piece (sort of).
That feeling when
The to-do list is a tad overwhelming.
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Bye for now!