Brittanie Chludzinski

Life as a freelancer requires passion and grit

When Abigail Bassett isn’t shooting standups, ghost writing blogs or traveling to cover cars, technology, real estate and luxury, she’s constantly searching for her next story.

She has the unique opportunity of working anywhere in the world and scheduling her own hours, which helps her find balance in this constant hustle. Being persistent, acting on her curiosity and relying on her versatile skills allow her to succeed in this role each day.

All former and current journalists can relate to this cyclical process of searching, pitching, writing and publishing, but freelancers encounter extra pressure simply because they call their own shots in this process.

While Abigail admits this “hustle” can be draining at times, she characterizes the passion and grit that keeps her driven, fulfilled and successful as a freelancer.

As someone who constantly relies on networking with new individuals and tapping her existing network of professionals, previous colleagues etc., Abigail not only shared her expertise on freelancing, but also shared helpful advice that our class can apply as soon-to-be professionals in the industry:

Practice the “humble brag”

As writers and communicators, we have endless job possibilities. Abigail reminded us that there’s an opportunity to make connections anywhere. If you’re not afraid to let people know what you do for a living and declare your hopes and goals for the future (with genuine intentions), you’ll never know what opportunities could come your way.

Be versatile

Another important factor in networking (especially as a freelancer) is versatility. As a journalism student, I’ve always been told that having a versatile skill set makes you more marketable. On the same token, I’ve also been encouraged to specialize in something or identify my niche in the industry.

While having a niche can be beneficial, Abigail said that being versatile pays off in the long run not only as a freelancer, but as a journalist overall. As she pointed out, many newspaper beats and niches within journalism focus on specific industries – the auto industry, real estate etc.

If you’ve only written about cars and the auto industry experiences a fallout in the economy, you could potentially lose your job. Not only does Abigail’s wide range of topics make her more marketable, but it gives her numerous opportunities if unexpected circumstances were to take place in one of these markets she covers.

Don’t ignore the numbers

According to Abigail, there are stories to be told in numbers as well. While many journalists and communicators claim to despise anything math related, having a basic understanding of numbers can be incredibly beneficial in your reporting and writing skills. A reporter who helps expose corruption by investigating numbers that don’t line up in a city’s budget for example could have very well missed this scandal if they didn’t have a basic understanding of accounting.

Be ruthless in your editing and get the job done

As a freelancer, Abigail said it’s easy for individuals to be passive and adjust deadlines. In order to maintain your credibility and ensure that the specific publication will still run your piece, it’s important to meet these deadlines. Even better, turning in your piece early will make the editor’s life much less stressful, thus creating a stronger relationship for future opportunities. Being a ruthless editor is another factor that will make an editor happy, but it’s also an important skill in any written communication job. Having the ability to tell a story creatively and concisely is a marketable skill that will keep publications interested in your work.

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