The Born Freelancer on Knowing When to Leave the Party

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? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

 

In my last column I wrote about using the current crisis as a catalyst for change by moving into freelancing.

Today I want to explore the opposite side of the coin. Namely, using this crisis as a catalyst for change by leaving a freelancing career for a more conventional 9 to 5 one.

Heretical for a site devoted to freelancing?

Hardly.

Perhaps one of the best kept dirty little secrets of professional freelancing is this:

Many of us will need to take a break from it occasionally and some may never return.

To leave or not to leave: these are some questions

Part 1 – money
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Posted on August 5, 2020 at 9:42 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

People before protons: How to pitch a science story

by Monte Stewart

Yasmin Tayag, Tim Lougheed, Leah Geller and Mark Lowey

Tim Lougheed has been guarding his secret for years.

If he has his way, editors will never pry it out of him.

“To other people, I will call myself a science writer,” he said. “If I’m selling a story, I will never use that term.”

And, Lougheed, is adamant that he will not disclose his preferred subject area, either.

“The way to sell a science story is to never – ever, ever – use the word science,” said Lougheed, who is based in the Kingston, Ont., area. “I always lead [the pitch] with the story first.”

“I think: This is just a story. When you’re doing the pitch and you’re coming up with that lede, you put [the idea] together as if it would fit into any category whatsoever and say: This is a really cool story about why this angle does that.”

Such moves have paid off. Lougheed has been freelancing full-time about animal research, microscopes, isotopes, phosphorous, fuels and several other science-related matters for about three decades.

“I started with science, and it’s been very good to me – let’s put it that way,” said Lougheed, who was a staff writer with the Windsor Star, Sault Star and Queen’s University communications department before becoming self-employed in 1991.

New COVID-related freelancing opportunities

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Posted on July 28, 2020 at 8:55 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT

WEBINAR: Making the Most of Your Interviews (on any media platform)

For Paul McLaughlin, calling an interview a success comes down to just one thing.

“It’s very simple. It’s if I’ve accomplished my goals,” he says.

McLaughlin, one of Canada’s most experienced interviewing trainers and author of the book, Asking Questions: The Art of the Media Interview, says knowing what you need is one of the keys to scoring a good interview.

“For example, with a feature article, it’s because I’ve gone after what I call a ‘DnA.’ That’s a mnemonic I’ve made up for ‘details and anecdotes,'” he says.

“So have I got material that’s good? Do I have something that’s golden? I’m always trying to find some gold in the interview. You’re likely going to be surprised and there are things that you can’t anticipate but if you have a goal, you have a better chance of accomplishing it.”

McLaughlin is the former interviewing trainer for CBC Radio and TV and has taught interviewing at the Ryerson School of Journalism and in York University’s Professional Writing program. He’ll share some of the lessons he’s learned conducting thousands of interviews for both broadcast and print in an upcoming Canadian Freelance Guild webinar called “Making the Most of Your Interviews (on any media platform).”

It will cover interviewing for both print and broadcast, advanced preparation techniques, and establishing trust and rapport with an interviewee.
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Posted on July 26, 2020 at 9:03 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Rory Peck Awards open for submissions

Freelance video journalists living anywhere in the world can now submit their work for the 2020 Rory Peck Awards.

The awards come with a cash prize and focus on international news and current affairs, with one category dedicated specifically to local journalists and field producers. Work submitted must have been broadcast in the past year.

The awards have been celebrating the work of freelance journalists working in news and current affairs worldwide for 25 years.

The deadline for entries is Monday, August 10. For more information or to submit your work for an award, see the Rory Peck Trust website.

Posted on July 16, 2020 at 9:00 pm by editor · One Comment · Tagged with: ,

4 Pitch Templates for Freelance Writers

by Robyn Roste

Although pitching isn’t the only way freelancers find paid work, it’s an important skill to master.

As much as I’ve tried to avoid it over the years, pitching in some way, shape or form is a large component of my freelance business and something I need to continually practice and improve at.

Industry lingo

Pitches, also called queries, are used most-often in journalism and refer to specific story ideas for an individual publication. The freelancer crafts a pitch, which includes a headline, a brief outline and the scope or source ideas if necessary. If the freelancer is unknown to the editor, the pitch also includes samples related to the beat they’re pitching or the writer’s experience.

However, for business writing, copywriting, content marketing and other types of freelance writing, letters of inquiry are more common. This is because writers in these situations are pitching themselves and what they can do for the company, organization or trade magazine on a freelance basis. Rather than sending one-off story ideas, these freelancers look to build relationships with editors and marketing managers as they tend to assign work rather than accept story pitches.

Regardless of whether it’s a journalism story or a copywriting gig, pitching your story or yourself is both an art and a science mixed with a bit of good timing.

What makes a good pitch?

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Posted on July 1, 2020 at 10:50 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

WEBINAR: Pitching for Success – Sell That Story!

You have the story. You know you can write it and deliver it. But how to get the editor’s attention—and a green light to proceed?

CFG Founding Member Sandra Phinney will take you on a journey down the freelance “pitching for success” path in Pitching for Success – Sell That Story. This workshop will cover:

  • today’s most common complaints from editors (and how to capitalize on that knowledge);
  • how to analyze magazines, newspapers and websites before creating a pitch;
  • tips to make your query jump off the page;
  • sample pitches/queries will be included, along with a real-life email trail with an editor, from pitch to filing story, including negotiating the best rate.

Sandra’s been a journalist and author for the past 20 years. Markets come and go but she continues to be a prolific writer and pulls off some interesting assignments. She’s penned four books, contributed to several travel guides and her  articles have appeared in over 70 publications.  She’s also won several writing/photography awards that have kept her humble.

This one-hour webinar happens on Tuesday, July 7th from 12 pm to 1 pm Eastern Time. It will be conducted using the Zoom platform. It is free for Canadian Freelance Guild members and costs just $25 for non-members.

Your link to the Zoom-platform session will be sent to you shortly before the start time. Please be on time.

You can find more information about the cost and benefits of membership in the CFG right here.

To register for Pitching Success click here.

Posted on June 23, 2020 at 4:26 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

The Born Freelancer on Going from 9-to-5 to Freelance During a Crisis

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? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

 

Extreme conditions bring about extreme changes.

In many cases, it is the only way to survive.

Today I’d like to talk about how the current crisis may be a good time in which to reconsider your career options going forward.

Going freelance

So perhaps you find yourself out of work from your 9 to 5 routine due to the pandemic.

Or perhaps you are in limbo on CERB while you wait to see if your old 9 to 5 job will still exist.

Maybe you are working from home and you are thinking that you kind of like it.

Or maybe you are still working in your 9 to 5 but hating it more and more and wondering why you stick with it.

Have you considered going freelance?
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Posted on June 17, 2020 at 9:59 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

WEBINAR: Getting the Shot – Tips to Taking Winning Photos!

Antarctica

It’s all in the eyes! Portraits, head shots, promo photos, editorial news and travel imagery is all about making that visual connection with the subject, to help convey emotion and tell the story.

In the Canadian Freelance Guild’s next webinar, Getting the Shot, learn the composition, lighting and exposure techniques to bring the viewer into the scene, and sell the shot!

Your Instructor: CFG member Frederic Hore is a freelance photojournalist, writer and travelholic with a passion for news, science, culture, the arts and the great outdoors. He started as a photographer-reporter for the weekly Powell River News, then worked for 8 years as a freelancer for the Montreal Gazette and Postmedia Inc.

His images and stories have been widely published including in the New York Daily News, Huffington Post, CNN, Canadian Geographic, in newspapers across Canada plus numerous other magazines and periodicals. His motto for life is: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained!”

This one-hour webinar happens on Tuesday, June 16 from Noon to 1 p.m. Eastern Time. It will be conducted using the Zoom platform. Participants will also receive a detailed tips and resources sheet.

Registration is free for Canadian Freelance Guild members and costs just $25 for non-members.

Your link to the Zoom-platform session will be sent to you shortly before the start time.

You can find more information about the cost and benefits of membership in the CFG right here.

To register for the webinar Getting The Shot click here.

Posted on June 4, 2020 at 8:54 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Ways freelancers can diversify their income

by Robyn Roste

 

Many people are drawn to freelancing because of the lifestyle and career freedom it affords. However, the lack of stability can be stressful.

During this pandemic, some freelancers have watched their work shift or outright disappear, prompting an urgent need to find new ways to earn an income.

Even those who haven’t noticed a significant impact on their workload are facing uncertainty, unsure if the work will continue.

Seasoned freelancers have been preaching income stream diversification for many years. Having several revenue streams creates space for dry spells, losing anchor clients and even vacations.

In times of plenty, it’s easy to fall into the trap of coasting, pulling back on our marketing or delaying income diversification. Preparing for rainy days seems unthinkable when the sun is shining and there’s not a cloud in the sky.

But now that the storm is here, it’s time to get creative. While we could default to taking whatever work comes our way—even if the rates are inadequate or the contracts require us to sign away important rights—another option is finding ways to pivot.

Treating freelancing like a business

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Posted on June 1, 2020 at 11:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: 

Dave Greber Freelance Writers Awards aim to support social justice writing in Canada

Dave Greber could talk about writing for hours on end. The Calgary-based freelancer had an unquenchable enthusiasm for storytelling.
 
“You could see him come alive discussing writing,” says Dave’s partner, Shirley Dunn.
 
Twenty years after his death, Greber’s passion lives on in the form of awards for freelancers that Dunn created in his name.
 
Greber spent the latter part of his career writing books and articles focused on social justice issues and teaching writing at Mount Royal College. When he died suddenly in 2000, a visit from a group of his students inspired Dunn to find a way to honour his memory.
 
“I knew from what he said that the time between getting a contract to publish a book and the time of publication was very dry financially,” says Dunn.
 
She decided to create a fund to offer cash prizes for social justice-related books and magazine articles. Writers can submit their work for the award either pre- or post-publication.
 
The Dave Greber Freelance Writers Awards are aimed at helping freelancers pursue social justice journalism and reach a wider audience with their work.
 
“The hope is that social justice journalism impacts the general public,” says Dunn. “I chose social justice because in the latter years Dave was doing a lot of social justice writing, particular around the Holocaust. He was the child of Holocaust survivors.”
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Posted on May 25, 2020 at 5:52 pm by editor · One Comment · Tagged with: ,