To be successful as a freelance journalist you need to be able to generate great story ideas and write the perfect pitch, but you also need to know how to find new opportunities, negotiate rates, build up contacts and how to brand yourself.
Throughout this four-week course, experienced freelance journalists Lily Canter and Emma Wilkinson will take you through their guide to kickstarting your freelance career so you can take full advantage of the flexibility and freedom that working for yourself can offer.
This can all be done in your own time, with lessons to work through and optional weekly assignments. Feedback is provided throughout and there are opportunities to take part in live online Q&A sessions. Multiple previous attendees have secured commissions on the back of ideas developed and pitched during the course including in the Guardian, Metro, EuroNews, and Runner's World.
The 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 would also suit anyone who has already taken the first step or dabbled in working for themselves but wants more guidance on how to push it to the next level.
By the end of the course you will be able to:
- Generate and develop a wealth of story ideas
- Find new and interesting freelance opportunities
- Create the perfect pitch and target it to different editors
- Turn that first commission into regular work
- Negotiate rates, get paid and promote your business.
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.
Week four: Branding, networking and building regular work
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 generate more potential sources of work as well as the tricks of the trade around building editorial contacts, getting noticed and gaining regular clients.
This is an online course. The training will run on Journalism.co.uk's online training platform and private forum, starting on 22 April 2024.
About Lily Canter and Emma Wilkinson
Lily is a freelance journalist specialising in running and fitness. She currently writes news, features, reviews and opinion for Runner's World, Trail Running, Fit+Well, Well+Good, South China Morning Post and Live Science. She previously specialised in personal finance writing for the Guardian, Metro, Mail on Sunday and The Times. She also works part-time teaching freelancing skills and feature writing at Sheffield Hallam University and Goldsmiths University.
Emma has been working as a freelance journalist for more than 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 and is vice-chair of the Medical Journalists’ Association.
Lily and Emma launched the award-winning Freelancing for Journalists podcast in 2020 and have since interviewed more than 80 guests in their quest to life the lid on freelance life. Their book of the same name is an authoritative, practical and engaging guide for current and aspiring journalism freelances and they also run the Freelancing for Journalists Facebook community that has almost 6,000 members.
"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