April 10, 2020 (Updated )
Freelancing can feel like a tough ride at the best of times. From coming up with ideas and finding out where to send them, to negotiating a fee and actually getting paid, it can be a minefield.
Especially now, as the journalism world hunkers down thanks to COVID-19, more and more journalists are either venturing into the world of freelancing for the first time, or looking for a quick refresher for their skills.
There are a lot of great resources for freelancers scattered all over the internet, so we thought we’d do our bit by collating them in one easily bookmarkable place. We’ve tried to be as comprehensive as we can be, but do let us know if you’ve spotted any tips or tricks we’ve missed. Sharing the knowledge helps us all out, after all.
Who To Pitch & Finding Work
StudyHall’s List Of Publications That Have Cut Or Have Budget: Don’t worry, it’s not as downbeat as it sounds. This list from the amazing Study Hall is a good guide to who has cut their budgets and who hasn’t – with links to the sources.
Hunter.io: This is a very nifty Google Chrome extension and website that will help you find emails addresses instantly, rather than dredging through a whole website. Even if you can’t find the name of the editor you’re looking for, it should throw up the format of the email addresses at any given publication.
The Non-Covid Thread: This is a handy thread full of editors who are specifically looking for stories which are absolutely nothing to do with COVID-19 right now. Yep, you heard. No viruses allowed.
Phrases To Search On Twitter: This is the list we use when we’re looking for freelance opportunities on Twitter and we add to it regularly. Just copy and paste the search term, including the quote marks, into the search bar. You can also get our Boolean search cheat sheet here.
Funding List: Have you ever considered your reporting could be funded by a grant rather than a publication? We update our funding list weekly, so check back regularly for information on fellowships and grants.
IJNet: This global journalism website is one of the most comprehensive round-ups of opportunities we’ve found. They include freelance call outs from time to time, as well as fellowships and reporting grants.
Newsletters: There are a lot of good newsletters kicking about which help freelancers find work. Our favourites include:
- Journo Resources: Yep, this is ours. We send it out every Tuesday and it’s split into sections for freelancers and staffers of varying experience levels.
- Opportunities of the Week (£): From the one and only Sonia Weiser, this newsletter costs $3 a month but it’s worth it for her out of this world research skills. She really does find all the opportunities.
- Freelance Writing Jobs: Run by freelance writer and author Sian Meades, this Wednesday weekly rounds up freelance and part-time jobs in the UK. It’s free to join and includes gifs.
- PitchWiz: Run by James Durston, the PitchWiz weekly newsletter is a global round-up of calls for pitches, and he also hosts a Facebook group with regular pitch challenges.
Facebook Groups: It’s worth saying from the offset here that we commend these to you with a slight pinch of salt. For the most part they’re incredibly useful communities full of people who are happy to help each other out, but don’t spend too much time in them. You may end up getting involved in a few more online spats than you intend too…
- No 1 Freelance Media Women: Our favourite of the lot, this group for women is moderated really well, so there’s not a lot of aggro in it. You’ll often see editors looking for last minute shifts or stories and they have a pitching hour every Friday where you can put your own ideas up and get feedback.
- Women in Journalism: Another group for the women reading this, this is a spin-off from the Women in Journalism charity. A fair few editors also crop up in here, so it’s well worth joining.
- Freelance Heroes: Less of a journalism group, more of a general hub for freelancers, this is nonetheless a very supportive group. You’ll also see other freelancers looking for people to help them with odd jobs too – we’ve spotted a bit of journalism adjacent stuff such as copywriting, blogs, PR, and websites.
- A Few Good Hacks: There’s slightly fewer members to this group, but trust me when I say it’s extremely chatty. It’s mostly focused on moans and gossip for freelancers, but a few bits of work occasionally crop up.
- Journo Resources: We also have our own Facebook group too, though it’s fair to say it probably needs a bit more love. We’ll be putting in a bit more of an effort to keep it filled with stuff during the lockdown.
- Journo Answers: A collection of just more than 3,000 journalists, this group is mainly centred around asking for advice, but you may spy the occasional call for pitches.
Writing The Perfect Pitch
A Big List Of Successful Pitches: This article is basically exactly what it says on the tin – it’s a big list of successful journalism pitches which people have kindly sent us. We’ve also linked through to where they were published as well, so you can see how they turned out.
The Big List Of Pitching Guides: Again, this one very much sounds like what it is. It’s essentially every guide we’ve found from publications that accept freelance pitches as to what they’re looking for.
No 1 Freelance Media Women: This is our favourite freelance Facebook group and it also runs a weekly ‘pitching hour’ where you can drop in your pitch to the group. Members are really receptive and helpful with suggestions of what to tweak and who to send it to.
Freelance Pitching Workshop Slides: We’re not quite sure how much sense this will make without the presenter to go with them, but if you’d like to take a look at the slides we use in our pitching workshops, this is where you can find them.
Pitch Clinic: This is no longer running, but was a great mini-series from Guardian editor Jessica Reed. She goes through real pitches sent in from freelancers, and gives them in-depth feedback and a grade. Yes, just like school.
How To Successfully Pitch The New York Times (Or Anyone Else): There are a lot of articles out there that claim to have all the best tips about pitching, but this one is actually well worth your time. It includes examples and has a lot of basic instructions.
I’m An Editor And Here’s What I Want From Your Freelance Pitch: We roped in Robyn Vinter, the editor of The Overtake to spell out exactly what she is and isn’t looking for in your freelance pitches. It’s no nonsense and very practical.
Working Out Your Rates & Getting Paid
Freelance Rates: Our very own database of freelance rates, with thousands of rates reported from other freelancers. A heads up – we’re about to relaunch this very soon and it’s going to be all shiny and interactive.
Freelance Fees Guide: Another rates database from the NUJ. It’s a bit less user friendly, but there’s a treasure trove of information in there.
Invoice Template: First invoice and not quite sure what it should look like? Here’s our invoice template. We’ll be updating that page soon to include some templates to help you keep your accounting under control too.
Virtual Office: UnderPinned’s virtual office is currently free for everyone until September. It includes simple ways to manage your workflow and store all your contacts in one place, as well as a free electronic invoicing system, contract creation, and they have a lot of partnerships with accounting software.
Freelance Rates Database: This is a more US-focused freelance rates resources, but what’s to stop you pitching American outlets anyway? It’s well laid out too.
Who Pays Writers: Again, this one is centred on the US, but it’s still a massive database of rates to leaf through and get an idea of who pays what.
Starling Bank: There are a lot of choices for freelancers out there, but at Journo Resources we use Starling Bank. They don’t have any fees, the app is well designed, and there are a lot of features which make sense. They also allow you pay in cheques.
This coverage is part of our coronavirus support. Every week we’re putting out at least two pieces, offering one-to-one advice, and running events. You can see our latest pieces here. Think we’ve missed something off this list? Let us know and we’ll update it.