How to become a freelance online journalist?

I have been writing leangthy articles as forum topics on some forums, but is there anything better?

Start a blog.

What tellyworth said. You’re on the internet, nobody’s stopping anyone from writing.

Just don’t expect to be paid for it, because you’re on the internet, and nobody’s stopping anyone from writing.

If enough people like what you write, you’ll get a lot of traffic, and then you can piss off your readers, er I mean monetise your blog with advertising.

Feh, fuck blogging.
Look around and you can find reputable sites that will allow you to start out. Likely you get pay-per-click to start but it’s something with professional editors and staffing. I have a friend who does very well this way at The Christian Post, for example.

But if you want to be a journalist then be one. But hook up with a site that will provide guidance, support, and credibility. Hell, even the Washington Post has PPC writers now.

Well, first you need some sort of accreditation. A degree in English or Journalism is often the preferred route. Then work for a dying newspaper, maybe radio or TV news to create a credible reputation. You might even try to freelance for a quality online publication for several years.

Of just be a blogger and claim to be a journalist. Just like taking a first aid course and then claiming to be a doctor.


If any of us knew the answer, we’d *be *paid online journalists instead of unpaid bloggers.

I do not need to be paid – I just need an audience better then in blogging.

I have a PhD in Statistics.

I had odds on that being posted.
For a larger blog audience, start linking thru and to other blogs. Add a Google+ acct to your blog. Post links (when allowed) to your blog in forums that have the same reader interest as your blog articles.

I did freelance journalism (written and photo) when I was young, working my way up to editor, where I was responsible for the content direction of the publication as well as hiring. There are plenty of news sources in business these days and they’re in constant need of front-line reporters.

First, you’ll need a résumé. Obviously, as a personal marketing tool, it will need to be well-written and show that you have a very solid understanding of information presentation. (In journalism we called it the “inverted pyramid” method.) When I was hiring I received plenty of poorly-written résumés with all kinds of problems in the English mechanics. (Toss.) I didn’t care about formatting much since we had digital typesetting take care of that.

After this, I liked to see that the candidate was knowledgeable in at least one mainstream style guide; in my case, it was the Associated Press Stylebook, but Chicago Manual of Style and a few others were acceptable. Most publications will augment with their own style guide anyway… for instance, to cover the spelling or capitalization of a small town, creek, government office, etc., in their coverage area.

Then I’d look at their work experience. Generally I was looking for someone with experience so I didn’t have a protracted learning curve on office housekeeping such as expense reports and other paperwork. I didn’t have to explain why they might be receiving a phone call at 2:00 am. I wouldn’t hear any complaining if someone had to “stake out” for 96 hours in their car. And so on.

Since my company didn’t hire reporters exclusively, my human resources department prevented me from asking for writing samples, which was a pain. If you’re not asked ahead of time, you should have writing samples ready to offer the hiring manager in the interview room. If a candidate offered me writing samples with a comparison of his/her article to an article on the same topic written by another journalist, my record was 100% hire for them.

In terms of the types of articles I received as samples, if it was some fluff piece that involved only armchair research, that was the end of the interview.

I wasn’t very strict on the college degree requirement; some of my best reporters were high school grads. But on the other hand, in a vast majority of the applications I received, the college grads were much more presentable. Very few non-degree candidates were attention-getting unless they had a lot of experience.

I hate mathematics with passion and have great interest in social issues. I knew it was a dead end back in '96.

My buddy did this. He started as a music journalist in college, moved onto paid journalism and then quit. He got back into music stuff at a blog and then sports stuff for his favorite BBall team. Now, he gets paid by that site to write

Most sites will let good writers write articles for free, just shoot them an email with links to particularly good posts or your blog and cross your fingers. Oh, also have a bunch of potential story ideas to show you’re serious.

Yeah, so? But can you communicate on topics in a clear manner that the average reader will understand and want to come back for more?

It depends where you are. One of the issues with Journalism in Australia is that there’s a chronic oversupply of university graduates and not nearly enough journalism jobs to go around.

There’s a bit of freelancing work here and there but my advice to the journalism students I encounter is generally “Switch to another degree while you can.”

There’s no one clear answer to this, so I’ve moved the thread to IMHO.

My personal advice would be to read up on how to write a good query letter. Once you feel you have a grasp on it, start cranking out queries. After getting hundreds of articles published, I still average about one sale for every four or five query letters I write. In the beginning, it was much worse than that.

I’d also recommend that you learn the art of the pitch and query letter.

I’m probably going to get flamed for this, but…in my opinion, if you’re not blogging and not contributing to a free portion of a website but instead just providing free content for exposure or out of the goodness of your heart, it can cheapen the profession for the people who are actually paid to write. I used to freelance for a living and there were so many people out there who were willing to work for dirt cheap or nothing at all that it made getting a living wage very difficult, even though many of the work generated by those willing to work for next to nothing was absolute crap.

Also, keep in mind that you’ll be spending a lot of time researching and interviewing people to write - are you sure you don’t want to get paid for that?

I started writing sports stuff for Bleacher Report back in December and have been having lots of fun doing it. In that site’s case, you have to submit something of a resume, complete with a brief article as an example of what kind of writing quality you can bring to the site. Among the great things about that website are that they give you lots of feedback on each story you submit, and you can progress up the foodchain by a couple different means to spots that do, in fact, have money attached to them.

As a result of that bit of writing, I’ve also been recruited by two other sites to do some writing for them. The best of those two, Stadium Journey, is a site dedicated to reviewing and evaluating every sports stadium on Earth, such that a fan who is interested in seeing a game somewhere can check the review and be able to anticipate what they can expect. That is a paying gig, although the wages, based on the amount of traffic each article receives, are next to non-existent. I think I’ve built up about $3 in wages in three months, so it’s barely worth mentioning. On the other hand, writing for them does mean I get comped for the games I attend when I go to evaluate a new venue, which is pretty sweet. :slight_smile:

So there are opportunities out there, depending on where your interests lie. Go looking hard enough and you should be able to hunt some things up.

This seems like a good time to ask this - what is the SDMB policy on linking to blogs etc. like those that Dread Pirate Jimbo talks about?

I hope so – I have written a few letters to editors.

I am sorry, I am selfish. I want to share my ideas.