The holiday season, freelancer-style

Whether you’ve got too much work to do during this busy month or not enough work coming in during the most expensive time of year, the holiday season can be a tough time for freelancers. There’s been lots of advice on Twitter this month for freelancers wondering how to survive the next couple of weeks. Here’s a handy round-up of some of the best:

• PWAC Toronto says you should spend your holiday downtime cleaning your office, reaching out to past clients and setting goals for 2015.

• Contently suggests that you use the slow Christmas and New Years period to, yes, clean your office, visit the dentist and work on dream projects.

• This post from Fast Company says you’re better off spending this slow period getting serious about LinkedIn and setting concrete career goals.

• The Write Life advises freelancers to spend the second half of December getting all the stuff organized: client information, accounting, websites, email inboxes and social media profiles. Oh, and the fun part: setting up some coffee dates with fellow freelancers for early in January.

• On the lighter side, this post from Creative Live lists all of the positive aspects of being a freelancer over the holidays: you can shop during off-peak hours, you can work from airport lounges, and you’re always home to sign for package deliveries.

• And from Story Board’s archives, here’s a post by The Born Freelancer with advice on how to cope if you’ve got too much or too little work to do over the next couple of weeks.

How do you cope during the holidays? What do you think is the best way to occupy yourself during a work lull? Let us know in the comments below or come and join us on Facebook for some freelancer holiday camaraderie.

Cheers and happy holidays from Story Board!

Posted on December 18, 2014 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer Dec 9-15

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, publishing, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

 

From Canada: 

 

From the U.S. and beyond:

 

Last week on Story Board:

  • Graphic Designers of Canada decries government logo design contest: Prominent members of Canada’s graphic design industry are angry about a government plan to source the logo for the country’s upcoming 150th anniversary through a contest for students…
  • Who’s afraid of an unpaid internship?: Less than two weeks after Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz advised youth to take unpaid positions to boost their resumes, a group of aspiring and emerging media workers, activists and academics gathered to tackle the weight of these words…

 

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.      

Posted on December 15, 2014 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Graphic Designers of Canada decries government logo design contest

Prominent members of Canada’s graphic design industry are angry about a government plan to source the logo for the country’s upcoming 150th anniversary through a contest for students. Graphic Designers of Canada, the country’s federally chartered accreditation body for graphic and communication design professionals, says the contest demonstrates a lack of understanding about the graphic design industry and a lack of respect for design students.

Mark Busse, Vice President, Public Relations of the BC Chapter of the GDC says the logo, which was previously at the centre of some controversy in 2013, is too important to get wrong.

“This is the country’s 150th anniversary. It’s our birthday. It’s our identity,” he told Story Board via phone earlier this week.

Although Busse applauds the government’s efforts to engage youth in the upcoming anniversary, he says this is the wrong way to go about it.

“Wanting to get the public aware and participating in something as important and historic as this, that’s awesome. But this is not some fun community project logo. This is the identity of the country. This is a crucial milestone in the history of our country,” he said.

The logo, says Busse, will play a major role in the 150th anniversary celebrations in 2017.

“This is graphic design, visual communication design in terms of brand, strategy, messaging, identity. This is huge. It’ll be on stamps, on posters, on television commercials, on banners on billboards, on letterhead throughout the year that we’re celebrating the anniversary,” he said.

Busse also says the contest is disrespectful of the graphic design students it seeks to engage.
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Posted on December 11, 2014 at 8:50 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Who’s afraid of an unpaid internship?

by Maggie Reid

 

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photo by Katherine Lapointe

Less than two weeks after Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz advised youth to take unpaid positions to boost their resumes, a group of aspiring and emerging media workers, activists and academics gathered to tackle the weight of these words.

On November 12, the Communications Workers of America-Canada’s Associate Member program held a media mixer at the Foundery in Toronto. Attendees gathered to network, eat, drink and discuss the media labour market and strategies for navigating internships and precarious work.

A panel moderated by journalist Denise Balkissoon, featuring writer and social critic Septembre Anderson and University of Toronto professor Nicole Cohen, provided a critical assessment of the rise of precarious and unpaid labour in media industries while leaving us with a sense of hope that alternatives can and are being created.

Anderson shared her experiences steering through the often-exploitative terrain of the internship world, pointing out that internships are increasingly replacing entry-level positions. Unpaid internships have essentially become a rite of passage in the media industries while there has been a simultaneous devaluing of such work, she said. Anderson said that her first unpaid internships were not meaningful learning experiences and that landing paid positions was difficult without paid experience—challenging the idea that internships are always an entry into paid work.
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Posted on December 9, 2014 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer Dec 2-8

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, publishing, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

 

From Canada: 

 

From the U.S. and beyond:

 

Last week on Story Board:

  • The Born Freelancer on Advising Wannabees: This is the time of year for greater social interaction, even among self-professed curmudgeonly writers. But with it also comes the greater likelihood of hearing those inevitable dreaded words: “I’d love to be a writer too. Could you spare a couple minutes”?…
  • Desmond Cole on crowdfunding to get to Ferguson: Desmond Cole is a Toronto freelancer and political commentator who writes about policing, race and social justice for a variety of media outlets. When the grand jury decision came down in Ferguson, Missouri last Monday, he felt compelled to go there in search of the stories that weren’t being told…

 

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.      

Posted on December 8, 2014 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

The Born Freelance on Advising Wannabees

This series of posts by the Born Freelancer shares personal experiences and thoughts on issues relevant to freelancers. Have something to add to the conversation? Your input is welcome in the comments. 

 

This is the time of year for greater social interaction, even among self-professed curmudgeonly writers. But with it also comes the greater likelihood of hearing those inevitable dreaded words: “I’d love to be a writer too. Could you spare a couple minutes”?

In such circumstances, freelancers have no corporate borg to hide behind; no phalanx of personal assistants to whisk us away. We are entirely on our own to face what can be, for some of us, a bit of a dilemma.

You see, most of us spend a lifetime on the other side of the equation. Our work is constantly being rejected or else arbitrarily subjected to the cruelest of philological indecencies by an ever-changing cast of editors, producers and publishers. Of course, if you’re very lucky, every now and then an editorial angel will also enter your life with understanding and support for what it is you do. It’s all called making a living.

To be asked to be the prime arbiter of what is good or bad by a rank novice unused to the rigors of the game can seem to some of us an onerous task.

 

Wish to be helpful and supportive

When approached by a hobby writer or novice wannabe it is far too easy to be dismissive. (It’s understandable when you’re on deadline, of course.) It’s important to keep in mind that we may be the first professional that they have ever approached. That means we can carry a powerful influence on their creative as well as psychological well-being. Never underestimate the positive power of a kind word at the right time nor the devastating impact of a thoughtless, unkind word when someone is feeling vulnerable. And all creative acts are acts of vulnerability.

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Posted on December 5, 2014 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Desmond Cole on crowdfunding to get to Ferguson

by Rachel Sanders

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Desmond Cole is a Toronto freelancer and political commentator who writes about policing, race and social justice for a variety of media outlets. When the grand jury decision came down in Ferguson, Missouri last Monday, he felt compelled to go there in search of the stories that weren’t being told. As a freelancer, however, his precarious financial situation made such a trip impossible without support. So he decided to crowdfund it. Although The Walrus soon came through with an offer of a plane ticket and a hotel room, Cole still needed cash for transportation, food, supplies and emergencies. Within a few hours of putting out his call for support, he had raised enough money to take care of himself during his four-day trip last week. Cole took the time to speak with Story Board this week about his crowdfunding experience, and about the importance of continuing to seek out untold stories even in the face of the media industry’s financial distress.

 

What made you decide to go to Ferguson?

I’ve been following, as much as I could, the events since Michael Brown’s shooting. I was always very interested in the story and as we were nearing the decision from the grand jury I really wanted to be close to what was happening. I had been watching a lot of livestreams on the internet and reading a lot of news articles and I was getting a sense that there was a larger story behind most of the reporting. Which was: the National Guard being called in, looting, fires, anger. I felt that there had to be more going on than that and I really wanted to go firsthand and meet people and talk to them. And I write about policing issues here in Toronto, too.

So this story is related to your beat.

Very much.

Why did you decide to crowdfund the trip?
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Posted on December 4, 2014 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Off The Wire: News for the Canadian media freelancer Nov 25-Dec 1

Once a week, we gather stories about the media business, journalism, writing, publishing, and freelancing—with a Canadian focus—and share them in Off the Wire. Who needs a water cooler?

 

From Canada: 

 

From the U.S. and beyond:

 

Last week on Story Board:

 

Spot a story you think we should include in next week’s Off the Wire? Email the link to editor@thestoryboard.ca or tweet us at @storyboard_ca.      

Posted on December 1, 2014 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

CMG Freelance launches Freelancer Directory

freelancer sunburstThe Canadian Media Guild has launched a freelancer directory that offers its freelance and temporary members a place to showcase their skills and experience to potential employers. The database has space for members to highlight their publication credits, training, and education. Profiles also have space for work samples of all kinds — print, images, audio, and video.

The CMG is holding a workshop on Friday, December 5th from 2:00-3:30 to help members optimize their online profile. Toronto employment counsellor and career coach Anne Brunelle will discuss current labour market standards, the key words most commonly used in your field of work, and best practices for self-presentation. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions specific to their own profiles.

To register for this free workshop click here for the Eventbrite page. Members outside of Toronto can register as online participants and will be able to watch the workshop via webcast — details to be announced closer to the event date.

If you’re a CMG Freelance member, click here to register for your online profile. You will need your membership number to register. If you haven’t yet received a membership card — or if you have questions about the database or workshop — please contact datejie green at datejie@cmg.ca.

To learn more about membership in CMG Freelance check out the details here.

 

Posted on November 26, 2014 at 9:21 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Media Works Handbook looking for freelance pitches

Have you got an idea for a story related to labour and the media? A new project is looking for pitches from members of CMG Freelance and CWA Canada.

The unions have partnered with CUP and the NCRA on a project called Media Works: Labour Rights and Reporting Handbook. The handbook is seeking stories that cast a critical eye on subjects such as freelance work, working for “exposure,” diversity in media, unpaid internships, and organizing media workers.

Pitches may be proposals for 1000-1250 word articles, videos, radio documentaries, photo-stories, or graphic journalism stories. Fees for accepted pitches will  be between $250 and $400 depending on the story’s length and complexity.

All contributors must be CWA Canada Associate Members or members of CMG Freelance. Click here to find out whether you’re eligible for a free CWA Canada Associate Membership. Information about CMG Freelance membership is available here.

The Media Works Handbook is also looking to hire an editor who will need to put in between 160 and 360 hours on the project between January 5th and February 27the, 2015. For more information about that position, check out this job listing on the CMG Freelance website.

And for more information about submitting your story ideas, click here.

The deadline for all submissions is December 7th at midnight ET.

 

Posted on November 25, 2014 at 9:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: