Freelancer of the Fortnight: Eifion Rees, UK
Journalism.co.uk catches up with a member of its freelance community. Eifion Rees is a writer currently based in the UK
Why did you choose to become a freelancer?
I'd been working in an office as a sub-editor on a weekly magazine for two years, and felt it was time for a change - the office politics was getting me down, and the thought of working elsewhere had a lot of appeal. After subbing for a year and a half, last year I moved into writing just as the recession bit. Work is looking much rosier now, though, as I've built up a stable of regular publications to write for. I'm lucky to have the subbing under my belt - if there's no writing work or I fancy a bit of office-based work I can always get in touch with an editor to see if they have any shifts free.
If you trained, where? If not, how did you become a freelancer?
I did a part-time journalism course for a year in north London, but to be honest didn't get much out of it beyond an NCTJ qualification for the CV, a few friends and several hangovers. Everything I know about subbing I learned during my time on the weekly magazine, and eventually my girlfriend (now my wife), a successful freelance writer, encouraged me to get into freelancing. I took a week's holiday from work in order to take some shifts on a newspaper - the pace was a step up from a weekly magazine, a lot more exciting - and handed in my notice a couple of months later. I had my first assignment within the week, and it went from strength to strength.
Do you specialise in any particular field and what areas do you write about?
I write a lot about environmental matters, but I've also covered men's interest and public sector issues. The joy of freelancing is that you don't need to have a particular knowledge base: it helps when selling yourself to an editor, but as long as you research stories thoroughly, are able to speak to experts and understand what they're telling you, and can convey that information to your readers, there's no reason you shouldn't write on any subject that appeals to you.
Which publications have you been published in?
Ecologist, London Lite, TimesOnline, Guardian Public, Forward (Guide Dogs magazine)
Which articles, in which publication, are you the most proud of?
My in-depth investigations for the Ecologist on golf and mountains.
What are the best and worst aspects of freelancing?
The best thing is the freedom: you work your own hours, choose your own jobs - and no irritating colleagues! The worst thing is the freedom: if you don't have the self-discipline, confidence or someone to urge you along, it's easy to get discouraged or take your foot off the pedal. During the recession it's also sometimes been hard to convince editors to commission - they often like the idea, but their budgets won't allow it. That's what they tell me, at any rate!
Do you have any interesting anecdotes in relation to your experience as a freelancer?
I first signed up with journalism.co.uk while still a salaried sub, with no idea what to expect. I wanted to get into environmental writing, so that's what I put down in my 'specialisms'. A few weeks later, out of the blue, the Ecologist, my dream publication, got in touch - their regular sub had just left. I freelanced for the magazine until it went online in July last year, and now write for them regularly. In terms of my freelance career, the subscription fee for journalism.co.uk has been the best £50 I've ever spent.
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