Last week we had another great guest speaker bless us with her virtual presence. The class gathered together as we spoke with freelance digital content producer and former CNN producer Abigail Bassett via Skype. Bassett now works on projects mainly involving cars, real estate, luxury and technology. It’s a pretty lavish way to make a living, reviewing the latest and greatest in sports cars, mansions and the latest technological advances.
As Bassett told us her story it was evident that she is a very confident woman. You have to be very sure of yourself to leave a place like CNN. She also has to have very high-quality work to become a freelancer and to depend on that as her main source of income. She fits both of these qualifications. She also is very brave to enter a workspace like the automotive one, which is predominantly male, and to be one of the best to report on that topic.
Bassett talked to us about how she is one of the only woman to cover high-class vehicles as a journalist. She painted the picture of a space mainly filled with men, and the men call her a “bad bitch.” Not in a derogatory way; it’s meant as a compliment and Bassett seemed flattered. It was a true indication that she has earned the respect of her peers. They know that her work is top notch, she knows what she’s talking about, and can cover high-performance vehicles as well as anyone else in the industry.
The life of a freelance journalist can be a very sketchy lifestyle if that is how you plan on breaking into journalism. Bassett warned us of jumping straight into that line of business. But Bassett herself built up credibility before she made the leap to freelancing.
The insight that Bassett gave us into the life of a freelance journalist was invaluable. She stressed the importance of not wasting the time of a publication that you are trying to do a story for. Don’t waste an editors time with pleasantries such “how are you doing?” Instead get right into your pitch and let it be very apparent what you have to offer. Be sure to give a concise idea of what your story will consist of.
She also mentioned how you must always do what you say you will do — and do it on time. If you miss a deadline on a freelance job, you are basically eliminating yourself from working for that publication again. Word will spread of your lackadaisical effort. Bassett also gave us tips on how much you should get paid for your work, and even thought that giving your work away for free early on is a good way to get extra exposure. She also helped us understand content rights and how keeping our content rights could help us distribute our own work, in full, on our own sites.
Overall our visit with Bassett was very informative. Getting tips from a veteran freelance journalist enlightened me to triumphs and hardships of that type of work.