Style & Then Some

Women in Journalism Seminar: How to freelance in a digital age

Women in Journalism is a networking, campaigning, training and social organisation for women journalists who work across all the written media. WIJ grew out of a demand for women to be more effectively represented at senior level in newspapers and magazines, and has since evolved into a forum for women in journalism at all levels.

Chaired byGill Hudson, the panel included  Lisa Smosarski, editor of Stylist magazine, Joanna Hunter, group digital editor at Cedar and freelance writers Joanna Moorhead and David Nicholson.

The advice seems to remain the same when it comes to pitching.  The same rules were rehashed; focus your ideas, be succinct, understand the context…we all know the drill.  The key difference when it comes to digital media is speed, embracing social media, branding yourself (someone uttered the term ‘brandividual’ but I’ll try not to) and search engine optimisation. Written publications typically work 3-4 months ahead however online copy is usually uploaded within days, if not hours.  Therefore speed is of the essence alongside keeping up-to-date with trending topics, stories and views to ensure your idea is relevant and timely.

Practical advice included negotiating payment upfront, something women tend not to be as ballsy as men about. Establish a kill-fee if the piece is dropped and clarify if the fee is just for published-word rather than the word count submitted.  Following this ask about invoicing processes as publications can pay using different methods and time periods.

Additionally don’t waste time constructing the article before pitching.  The process should be collaborative and therefore the structure, format, word count etc. should be decided jointly.  Instead establish your idea and summarise the pitch in one sentence.

As to whether print has a future amidst sea of online media, the panel considered it would survive albeit in a more specialized form.  Erstwhile views considered online media the poorer cousin of print media, however (although still often less lucrative) this is changing as online outlets grow in prominence.

  • Increase your brand recognition – get your twitter followers up (@joanna_knowles) and start a regular blog!
  • Think ahead and pitch ideas relevant to a forthcoming event.
  • Try calling the editorial office as well as e-mailing your ideas.
  • Don’t blanket copy your idea to a number of editors, keep it tailored and specific.
  • Make sure you really know the publication and don’t repeat ideas that have recently been published.

One comment on “Women in Journalism Seminar: How to freelance in a digital age

  1. blondekatie
    October 25, 2012

    This is really good advice, thanks for sharing, gutted I couldn’t make the seminar.

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