It’s not easy being a freelance journalist nor is it easy to become one. It’s even harder when you do not have a degree to back up your credentials. However, that does not mean it is impossible. There are many things that you can do right now to jump-start your career as freelance writer. Most people start out as bloggers or even host their own website. It’s also a good idea to find and write in your niche. The most important thing is to be serious about your decision to become a freelance journalist. You want to be active when you blog and having huge gaps of inactivity does not look good. It just looks like a phase or that you did not value your blog.
Having your own website is a great start to becoming a freelance journalist. A lot of potential employers will take your website into consideration. They will most certainly visit it. The fact that you have your own website will tell employers that you are serious about your work. Not only that, it is another chance for you to impress them and for the employer to get to know you. If for some reason your cover letter did not do a good job explaining who you are, your website certainly will if it is done properly. You do not always have to have a website to considered. There are plenty of websites that can host your blog and for free. Tumblr and WordPress are always great places to start. WordPress is the preferred choice for most news websites or companies. Here at VNR we highly recommend that you get familiar with WordPress simply because of the high amount of traffic it receives. A lot of applications will ask for or about WordPress experience.
However, before you begin to write or host a blog, it is recommended that you find your niche. Your niche is a topic that you enjoy writing about or something that you know very well. You can be expected to write top quality articles in subjects that fall within your niche. You will want to have a lot of articles covering that topic. Although, as a general rule, you will want to appear versatile. That being said, it does not hurt to have articles covering a plethora of topics as long as they are well written and accurate. Good journalists and freelancers are typically able to write on a variety of subjects and produce quality articles. You will have plenty of time to hone your niche while still writing on a subject that you may not particularly be fond of.
Freelance journalism is a competitive field and it can become difficult to stand out from the crowd. This is especially true you do not hold a degree. This is where your skills and writing portfolio plays a big part in the application process. A portfolio is basically a collection of your best work. Most professionals will ask for this when you fill out an application so it is crucial to have one at the ready. Not to mention it will benefit you to have a lot of content on several topics. Some companies may ask for several articles or writing pieces on a specific topic. You don’t want to miss out simply because you do not have enough content.
Lastly, do not forget that journalism is supposed to be challenging and it is also supposed to be fun. If you get rejected, do not be discouraged. It is all apart of the job and if they do not respond, do not fret. Sometimes it will take weeks for them to get back to you. Bigger corporations like CBS or CNN may only respond to successful applicants. They might even tell you that may be interested in working with you in the future. If that is the case, I would highly recommend applying again once you have honed your skills even further. The path to journalism is a long and arduous one, but the result can be fruitful if you succeed. For the pen is truly mightier than the sword.