The lucrative transferrable skills every journalist already has
How to diversify your freelance portfolio with your existing skillset
Firstly, I just wanted to say a huge thanks to everyone who wrote, tweeted and messaged me about last week's newsletter. I was a bit nervous to send it as I don't usually write pieces like that here, but the response to it was brilliant. I'll try to do more of them in future as it seemed to really resonate. I also wanted to say a MASSIVE thank you to everyone who's already signed up for membership, I can't begin to thank you as it’s down to paying subscribers who support my work that I can experiment, improve and build up this newsletter.
This week's newsletter is the practical follow up to what I talked about last week. As I wrote there, in the face of low-paying journalism gigs, the best way to make it work as a freelancer is by cultivating multiple streams of revenue a la Warren Buffet. But what are those different streams and how do you find them?
There are plenty! And the good news is that many are lucrative and pretty much all of them require skills that journalists already have. So here’s a non-exhaustive list of some of the different revenue streams freelance journalists can explore by using their existing skillset.
The easiest and most transferrable skill writers have is, of course, writing. While it might seem like newspapers and magazines are dwindling, there's never been a greater demand for storytelling and content more broadly. Content marketing, which is writing copy for brands rather than editorial outlets, can be very lucrative. I've written about how I use platforms like Contently to land these gigs and also how I approach companies directly for them.
Part-time or guest lecturing on a university journalism course can be a fantastic way to bring in additional, steady income. There are also plenty of creative writing workshops, community-based programmes and other places you can teach at. You can also teach your own courses online via platforms like Skillshare, Udacity and Teachable.
Similar to teaching, you can deliver media training. This is going into companies that want to learn how to talk to the media and look good doing it. You can also train companies in a technical skill you have that they need, like audio or video production, or even the basics of storytelling. You can write up a training proposal and approach a company’s communications department or learning and development department to land these opportunities.
Chairing panels, keynoting at conferences and hosting events are great gigs to get, especially if they're for corporate clients and you don't have to do any of the organising. Journalists already have the skills needed to chair a panel – it's essentially the same thing as interviewing someone. One way to find these gigs by signing up to an agency, like Speakers Hub or Chartwell Speakers. And if you want to practise your skills, Toastmasters is an international network of meetups for public speakers.
This is a great one for those who've worked in the media for a while before going freelancing. You can offer consulting services to companies, publishers and other businesses. Things you can consult on include editorial and/or social strategy, digital innovation, ethics and best practice, leadership, community engagement... the list goes on. While there are some agencies out there who connect consultants to clients, this kind of work is usually found by going direct to a client.
In this multi-hyphen world of work, there's nothing stopping you from being a journalist-slash-whatever-else-you-want-to-be. If being a full-time freelance journalist is a struggle or simply isn't fulfilling you, use the single greatest thing about being freelance to do something about that: the power to change it without having to ask for anyone else's permission first.
Upcoming FJ&Co events
Breaking into freelance feature writing (June 17): The next FJ&Co event is a panel discussion on how to break into freelance feature writing with Sophie Heawood, features writer for The Guardian and Observer; Samira Shackle, freelance writer and deputy editor of the New Humanist, and Amelia Tait who freelances for Wired, Vice and the New Statesman.
This event is free for members. If you want to come to this event and future panels for free, plus get exclusive content and resources that will make your freelance life richer, sign up for membership.
💸 Jobs board 💸
Investigator / Senior Investigator (Fixed-term 2-year contract)
Liberty is launching an exciting new project using the tools of investigative journalism to expose and challenge abuses of power and violations of human rights. In developing this project, we are inspired by success Liberty has had in using simple FOI requests to uncover important human rights stories and excited by the possibility of applying a broader range of investigative methods for even greater impact. We are also looking to support the critical role investigative journalism has always played in challenging abuses of power at a time when support for this function is needed more than ever.
Apply here before 9am Tuesday 4 June
Ralph’s side hustle is napping
Calls for pitches
Why do so many mediocre men rise to the top? Fintech for gig workers is the next big untapped market. The urgent quest for slower, better news. The American labour market’s desperate need for more flexibility. How do you define success when you’re a freelancer?
Kate Leaver: Thank you so much for having our backs and writing so eloquently on the freelance existence.