How to become a freelance online journalist?

In the context of the thread, no problem. If we’re talking about blogs, linking to a particular blog is fine.

On the other hand, plugging your own blog in every post (blog-flogging, as I like to call it) is strongly frowned upon. So is linking to it out of context (e.g., finding a way to link to your cooking blog in a thread about metal content of meteors).

There’s an old joke that professional writers and prostitutes have the same issue - talented amateurs doing the same thing for free.

Happens in photography, too. In fact, at weddings (which I rarely do anymore), we have a contract clause concerning the Uncle Bob factor.

“Yeah, my Uncle Bob is a pretty good photographer. He’ll be there taking pictures, too.”

Not that I object to amateurs as a given rule, only when they get in the way of the professional’s job. I went to one wedding recently as a guest, without a camera at all because I don’t get in the way of the hired pro, and it was actually shot by about 4 Uncle Bobs and Cousin Susies. Interesting. (The couple was keeping the whole thing as low cost as possible, which I thought was a good thing. Just noticing how that anecdote fits what is quoted above.)

Yep . . . in the pre-internet days, I was actually able to earn a living as a freelance magazine writer/editor. Now that everyone with a computer thinks she’s Dorothy Parker, those days are over.

I was talking to a magazine editor recently about an article I was writing for her. She said she needed some photos to run with it. High-quality images to run at full page width. She’s paying $10 per image. I said I don’t know a photographer that will work for that rate. Heck, I’m an amateur photographer at best and I won’t work for that rate.

I have a little bit less of this since I’m a copywriter/ business writer, but the thousands of obscenely low-paying jobs at places like eLance, oDesk, etc. attest to the fact that plenty of companies (granted, many of them scammy or just plain shitty) think that because it’s on the web, any yahoo who can string two (badly spelled, gramatically incorrect) words together will be good enough. Obviously those aren’t the kind of companies I work for, but it definitely affects the overall mood of the marketplace.

When I first got started in freelancing, I was clueless and signed up on elance (back when it was free - now it costs more to sign up than you’d ever hope to actually make from it). It was absolutely miserable. I provided my first potential client with a quote that was by market standards pretty low, but I was new, so I figured I had to start in the lower range and work up. He was horrified by my “ridiculously high” rate and said he’d expected $1 per article, or 50 500-word articles for $50. He then told me I should be grateful to write for him.

Shockingly, I did not use elance again.

When I first ventured into Vegetarianism, I started out Vegan. And I surfed the web for ANYTHING I could find.

I stumbled across a webzine written by two people who were honest and enthusiastic. It was nice to look at, easy to read, and very informative.

I became interested in Heirloom Beans, and started an email exchange with one of the owners. I was encouraged to write my own column on beans for the webzine.

I didn’t get paid anything. I had a lot of fun. I received “fan mail,” and I enjoyed the whole experience.

My columns are still archived on the site!

There’s a certain technique in news writing that differentiates a genuine news story from a blog. Just wanting to “share your ideas” does not a journalist make. Actual journalism writing would include:
•getting interviews and or quotes from multiple sources
•understanding the inverted pyramid
• knowing how to write a clear, concise lead
•knowing how to get all the who, what, why, when, where, and how into the article
•knowing how to corroborate your sources
• and presenting more than one viewpoint.
• Also, keeping one’s own personal opinion OUT of the story.

Just starting a blog and waxing poetic about anything and everything is not journalism. That’s just essay writing, basically. I get really annoyed when I hear people referring to anyone who writes something as a journalist. Bill Maher is not a journalist; he’s a comedian. Michael Moore is not a journalist; he’s a documentarian. People like that, while they may write about current events and they may present their opinions about those events, they are under no obligation to present a fair and balanced piece of writing. An actual journalist should be. Just because someone is on TV and either reading the news or talking about the news, that doesn’t make them a journalist. Just because someone is “published” on the internet does not mean they have reporter skills and understand exactly how to find and chase down a news story and present it in a fair and unbiased way, with corroborated, verified sources.

Upon preview, what blasto9000 said.

I think you did a better job of zeroing in on the OP’s original intent.