Wednesday, April 21, 2010...8:30 am

Top tips for media freelancers #3

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[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5]

Third in our roster of freelance advisers is freelance writer and editor Stuart Derrick. Like many in the world of business print publishing, he’s found his niche specialisms and their attendant titles disappearing, and his old media skills under threat from the digital revolution.

In response, he’s got some excellent advice for any freelancer under pressure:

  1. Treat freelancing as a business, not a lifestyle
    Speak to many new freelancers and you’ll find they emphasise the work life aspects of being a freelancer, and there are many – flexibility to undertake childcare being one. But the fat days are over, and anybody who thinks they can watch daytime movies, hang round in galleries or take too many duvet days is on a route to discovering that they need a real job. You need to work real hours, act professionally when dealing with people (doubly so in some cases as anybody can call themselves a freelancer), and over-deliver these days unfortunately.
  2. Be flexible
    Especially these days, and I know this is something this blog always spoken about. You can’t really afford to be too picky about the work you do at the moment. This may change, but  by accepting work you don’t want to do (too boring, low paid) you are potentially making yourself good contacts for when better work comes round. Also, by broadening your horizons you can win more work – and potentially more lucrative work too, eg corporate gigs.
  3. On a similar point, be nice
    As a freelancer you are the most dispensible person on the team, and there are plenty of alternative hacks after your work. You don’t need to be obsequious, but belligerence is not a useful trait when you are dealing with people and you risk being remembered (and labelled) as hard work, or lazy, or inaccurate. If somebody queries your copy or wants changes, do them, but make sure you (and they) understand what they really want. The old cliche about being nice to people on your way up applies here too – the editorial assistant making your tea could be the features editor or editor in a couple of years’ time. Will you be remembered as the elder statesman who was snotty with them or didn’t have time to speak to them?
  4. Always be on the lookout for the next chance
    Pitch ideas as often as you can. Even if they aren’t taken up (a lot of the time) they will show that you are not sitting on your laurels and waiting for work to come to you. And if they are taken up, you’ll be writing about something that you are interested in.

More to come tomorrow…

[Part 1] [Part 2] [Part 3] [Part 4] [Part 5]

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