Freelancing for journalists

Working as a freelance journalist isn't just about generating great story ideas and writing the perfect pitch. Successful freelances also have to be able to negotiate rates, build up contacts and know how to brand themselves.

Throughout this four-week course, that you can complete in your own time, experienced freelance journalists Lily Canter and Emma Wilkinson will teach you how to become a successful freelance writer during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

Through their Freelancing for Journalists book and podcast Lily and Emma have been lifting the lid on freelance life and they are now offering the opportunity to work alongside them to develop a freelance portfolio. During the course they will provide regular feedback on developing ideas, crafting pitches and using your brand to promote your work.

This online course is ideal for anyone interested in working as a freelance journalist, whether you are making the move from a staff job or are a graduate taking your first steps into freelancing. It can be easily slotted amongst other commitments with a flexible schedule which allows you to work through the modules at a time of your choosing and build your knowledge through weekly assignments.

By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • Generate and develop a wealth of story ideas
  • Create the perfect pitch and target it to different editors
  • Use a variety of tools to promote your work
  • Know how to negotiate fair rates of pay

Week one: Where to find paid work

There is a wealth of possibilities to earn money as a freelance especially for those who learn to think beyond traditional media.

In week one you will learn where to find work and how to tap into those opportunities to develop a solid portfolio.

Key to your success will be learning how to value your worth. Lily and Emma will guide you through knowing what rates to expect or charge and making sure you know your rights around getting paid and what to do when you hit a problem.

Week two: Developing story ideas

Good ideas are everywhere once you know where to look.

In week two, you will hone your story sense and work on turning those initial hints of an idea into a full-blown plan for a commissionable piece.

Whatever type of journalism you want to do, learn how to keep on top of what is happening in your area of interest whether that’s sport, music, health, finance or anything else. Lily and Emma will teach you the tools you need to find ideas, experts, people to interview and case studies.

Week three: Pitching and finding the right editor

Selling that great story idea is the most vital part of making your freelancing a success.

In week three you will learn how to write the perfect pitch and find the right editor to send it to. Lily and Emma will show you how to make your pitch stand out and boost your chances of getting commissioned.

You will get feedback on your pitches including advice on targeting your idea at different publications or outlets. You will also learn the tricks of the trade around building editorial contacts and getting noticed.

Week four: Branding and networking

Building a brand is sometimes the last thing on a freelancer's list of priorities but it should be the first.

In week four you will learn how to use social media to your advantage, the importance of email signatures and imagery, and why you should have your own website.

Lily and Emma will take you through a range of tools to help you promote your work and build an online presence. You will also learn about the importance of using networks to make key contacts and generate more potential sources of work.

Getting there

This is an online course. The training will run on's online training platform and private forum, starting on Monday 6 June 2022.

About Lily Canter

Lily Canter is a freelance money, health and lifestyle journalist with a diverse portfolio of news, features and comment pieces published in The Guardian, The Times, The Telegraph, The Sun, Metro, South China Morning Post, Moneywise, Vegan Living, The Overtake, loveMONEY and This is Money. She is also a senior lecturer in journalism at Sheffield Hallam University.

About Emma Wilkinson

Emma Wilkinson has been working as a freelance journalist for almost 15 years. She writes about all things medicine and health for a range of specialist titles including Pulse, The BMJ, The Pharmaceutical Journal, The Lancet, Chemist and Druggist and The Limbic. Her work includes news, features and in-depth investigations. She also works as an associate lecturer in journalism at Sheffield Hallam University.

Lily and Emma are the authors of Freelancing for Journalists an authoritative, practical and engaging guide for current and aspiring journalism freelances. Their podcast of the same name looks at how to make a success of freelance journalism with the help of some lively guests and amusing anecdotes.


"This is a great course, the theoretical content is very good and the practical parts with the detailed feedback from the trainers are extremely useful. I was able to ask all the questions that I had floating around and I feel much more confident. 10/10!" - Anja Bruschweiler, freelance journalist