I ‘ve really wanted some professional insight and now I have it. Of course, our professors at MSU give us endless useful information, most having been or currently being in the journalism industry themselves. But I always appreciate fresh perspectives.
We had two guest speakers last week in class, both of whom shed a lot of light on what my future as a journalist might look like.
The speaker I was most interested in was concerned with was freelancing, mostly because I didn’t really understand it and want to break into the field. Turns out there is way, way more to the job than pitching editors.
Freelancers are business people, and the papers they write for are their clients. I’ve never thought of it that way but it is quite literally what’s going on, according to freelance writer Julianne Pepitone. The amount that you have to manage your personal finances, keep track of your earnings, figure out the complicated business of taxes and balance your workload is really intimidating to me. I’m the type who likes to go with the flow, not control the stream.
Before she came in to talk to us I honestly thought freelancing was like any other job as a journalist.
But Pepitone shared even more surprising news. She makes a ton of money. At least by my standards. This shocked me because I know salaried jobs in the industry are low, and for the longest time I’ve associated the word “freelancer,” with “between jobs.”
Obviously, I was misinformed; although I think every job is what you make it.
Pepone is definitely making it work for her by taking jobs from varied clients, staying in touch with contacts, and working extremely hard. During our Q&A, she said that she’s usually working on six to ten pieces at once and always turns in her work early.
Another thing I learned that subverted my expectations was that Pepitone does not ordinarily pitch editors, but she is offered jobs or makes her industry contacts aware that she’s available for one when one comes up. I know this is working out for her but I would be extremely nervous in her situation not to be called in for jobs, no matter how good I was.
I also wonder how much room there is in the industry for more freelancers, especially ones that make a good living. It seems like a site shuts down every week with a new site popping up to take its place, except this one doesn’t pay.
Approaching freelancing seems more intimidating to me know after listening to Pepitone and mulling over what she said that it did before I spoke with her.
Even though I’m much more informed now and have a few threads to pull on when I want to start marketing myself as a writer, I’m definitely more intimidated by the process.
It’s more “real-world,” than what I’ve been focused on recently.
Still, I am absolutely going to take what she said to heart and try and apply her process to my writing process and career goals.