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Industry Insights: Some Useful Resources For Freelancers
An editor friend of mine runs a publication that is staffed by college journalists. This is a topic close to my heart because college is actually where I started my career in journalism. When I was a freshman in college, I started to contribute to the campus paper (mostly just for fun. At the time I was still totally sure my future was in trashy romance novels). Before I knew it, I was calendar editor, senior editor, managing editor, and then, by the latter part of my sophomore year, Editor in Chief.
It was those college years that shaped the rest of my life, and so when my friend who runs the above-mentioned publication staffed by college journalists reached out to me recently and asked for help with an upcoming project she was working on, I was all ears. As these are college journalists who hope to finish their degree and go onto a career in the field, she likes to do occasional education sessions with them. She asked me if I'd be willing to pop onto a Zoom this spring and lead a class for her group on how to break into freelance writing.
I was honestly honored. First, that I can do this tiny thing to help shape future baby journalists. But also: That she even asked. By some accounts, I may be a community elder of freelancers at this point -- I've been freelancing in various capacities for a VERY long time. But also, we know how it is to be in our field -- imposter syndrome is rampant, and I am no exception.
But that's not the reason I'm sharing this story today. In preparation for this session I'm going to do with this group of college journalists, I started to work on a list of resources that are helpful for freelancers. It's a list I'm still building and working on.
But...then this week happened.
Anyone who has been following social media knows that there's been a whole lot of layoffs in the publishing industry recently, and so that means a lot of people who maybe were working on staff at various publications are now returning to freelancing -- or dipping their toes into freelancing for the first time. So, I figured, in case it would be helpful to anyone, I'm going to share that list of resources I was building here.
Obviously, this week's industry insights edition will have no paywall. I have no motivation in this post other than to get help where it's needed - regardless of if you are a subscriber. And, if I can ever help anyone personally, in any way, don't be shy about sending me an email or a DM.
Intuit QuickBooks Self-Employed -- One of the REALLY difficult parts of being a freelancer is to keep track of all those odds and ends -- the invoices, the receipts, the membership fees and subscriptions. And that makes tax time a NIGHTMARE. A service like this can help tremendously with keeping track of all those odds and ends of finances. Something like FreshBooks is another great resource.
Speaking of taxes: My fabulous friends Alice and Jill (btw, check out their newsletters!) and myself are collabing on planning a subscriber Zoom event where freelancers of any ilk (writer, publicist, or otherwise) can ask their questions related to taxes - and we'd LOVE if anyone represents an accountant, or knows an accountant, who may want to volunteer their time and pop onto the zoom and answer some questions. Chances are you'll score some new clients out of the experience! Email or message any of the three of us if you have a potential fit, please <3
Sonia Weiser’s Opportunities of the Week: This is an incredible resource, where Sonia tirelessly shares leads on writing opportunities each and every week. I've myself gotten a few assignments through leads in this newsletter! Sonia is as close to a saint as anyone in our industry gets.
Freelancing with Tim” Newsletter: This is a very helpful newsletter that I often recommend to those who are newer to the field, as it shares everything from the pitching guidelines at various publications to interesting educational articles on the industry.
Kat Boogaard's Newsletter: This is another great option geared toward beginning freelance writers, and shares a lot of advice for how to get started and build their own path.
RescueTime: This is a great productivity assistant. It helps to measure your focus, block distractions (stay off social media as much as you can during the day - - remember, time is money!).
Klok.com: At the start of my freelancing career, I actually was doing a lot of freelance copyediting and proofreading. That tends to be paid hourly, and time tracking was a big help come invoicing time. But tracking your time can be very helpful in all sorts of projects.
Project management tools: Depending on your outlets and gigs, you may find a lot of publications you work with are fans of certain project management tools, but you never know, you may find use in adding it to your own private arsenal. Stuff like Trello can be very useful! (But truth be told, a post-it never hurt anyone. Except maybe Carrie Bradshaw.)
Social Media: Yes, social media is a distraction you should avoid while on assignment -- or pitching, or catching up on emails -- all a valid part of the work day. But it also can be a resource when researching for stories. Check out and use the #journorequest tag regularly -- for everything from assignment leads to call for experts and sources and more.
There’s a lot more, and I’ll try to add more to this list as I add to the other list I was working on, but I’d love if you can share your own resources below as well, and make this a comprehensive resource to anyone who needs it.
...And remember you are not alone. We are a community, and most of us really only want all the best for each other. We want to support each other, and build each other up, and celebrate each other's successes. Just this morning, while writing this email, two different friends texted me pitch leads they had seen on Twitter and thought of me -- and I do it for them all the time too. We're all here for each other -- and we'll all be here for you, too.