How to be a freelance journalist: what I have learned and top tips from the experts

It’s been nearly a year since I took the big step to go freelance. And, though I probably shouldn’t admit this to the world and thus to any potential employers out there (hiyaz!), I’ve found the transition from being a staffer and section editor to being a self-employed journalist quite challenging. 

At times, I’m fancy free, skipping out to lunchtime meetings, wrapping myself up in a blanket in front of my laptop, and eating an entire pack of biscuits in fifteen minutes. At others, I’ve felt like a bunny bounding into a sea of piranhas, copy shredded to bits and my soft, furry self esteem ripped into one piece at a time. 

But don’t let that put you off. Mostly, freelancing is like a never-ending sandwich of awesome, filled with a variety of different people, publications and opportunities. The fact that it’s tough makes you – or should make you – hungrier. And if you’re lucky, and don’t use laboured metaphors like this, then you might get some extra hot sauce at the end of it. 

And so, to celebrate my first freelance birthday, I’ve written a(n exhaustive) guide to what you should know – and what I wish I’d known earlier – with a little help some freelance journalists who really know what they’re talking about.

Hopefully there’s something in here for everyone, from students to staffers, and from the more obvious points worth reiterating to the stuff that no one warns you about in journo school.

Something missing? Have more tips to contribute? Please do leave your comments below. I’ll most definitely be updating this as the year goes on.