Everything you need to know about freelance journalism
Updated: Apr 22
Freelancing is a good way to stay sharp and make a little money while you’re job hunting. Or, perhaps your goal is to be a freelancer after graduation.
Three Cronkite Nation alumni shared their insights about the world of freelancing from its benefits and challenges to the nitty gritty business aspects of this particular line of work.
How do I start freelancing?
"I got into freelancing by necessity, right after the 2016 presidential election," Caitlin Cruz ('14) said. "There weren't a lot of jobs open at the time for what I wanted to do and I found out that I really loved it [freelancing] and I really liked working for myself."
Whether you enter the world of freelancing out of necessity or it's something you're passionate about, use your network. If you've worked on projects for editors or business owners during your time at the Cronkite School, reach out to them again and offer your services.
"Network with the people who are in charge ... find out who's in charge of hiring and scheduling and then you kind of just go in and you mingle with these people," Kody Acevedo ('17) said. "And do a good job. You may have all the experience, but it ifyou come in and you're like not that great at what you do, people aren't going to recommend you other places ... it's all about work ethic."
If there's a dream publication, outlet, etc. that you've always wanted to contribute to, cold calling can be incredibly effective if done strategically.
"I cold called email to get my foot in the door at Vice," Cammeron Neely ('16) said. "In my subject line I put 'An out of the blue email on this gray rainy day,' and my boss, who I've known for three years now, she said to me 'Okay, I can work with this guy.'"
Neely emphasized being as concise as possible and avoiding being overly formal.
"Get in, get out and do something to make yourself stand out," Neely said.
What should I consider before working in the freelancing world?
Before taking the leap and freelancing potentially full-time, there are a lot of benefits and challenges to take into consideration.
"You're in charge of your own schedule, which is really nice,"Acevedo ('17) said. "You can determine how busy or how little amount of work you want to have each week. ... If you want to take a week off and go on vacation, you just block yourself off where you can go on vacation. You don't have to really answer to vacation days."
While that all sounds great, as a freelancer, you won't have the same access to benefits that people who work full-time jobs might have. In that sense, you have to treat freelancing like your own business, and with any business there are lots of little details to consider; like taxes.
Yes, taxes! Taxes look a lot different for freelancers than they do for people with salaried positions. For more information on that, stream the full discussion below where our panelists had a lively discourse about navigating taxes as freelancers.
To learn more about freelancing, stream the full discussion here. This workshop was originally recorded during the 2021 Fine Tune Friday series hosted by the Cronkite School.
More About Fine Tune Fridays:
Fine Tune Fridays offer students tips on how to fine-tune their professional persona from their resume to their wardrobe. Workshops are open to all Cronkite students and alumni, and are hosted virtually via Zoom. For a full schedule of upcoming events, visit: www.cronkitecareerservices.com/fine-tune-fridays