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Favorite Freelance Web sites?

Hi all,

When I'm procrastinating, or when I'm starting my day, I have a regular routine of journalism and freelance-related Web sites that I visit. I thought I'd share them here and wondered if you'd do the same. Not only is this good information, it's a great resource for future members of this group.

So, my favorites:

The Independent Journalist
This is the freelance blog of the Society for Professional Journalists. Lately, they've been answering questions, but they sometimes address bigger issues on the site.

Erik Sherman's WriterBiz
This is my new favorite site. Sherman is a widely published freelancer who has also been a member of ASJA's contracts committee. That means he knows what he's talking about when it comes to contracts and often breaks things down in really understandable terms. Plus, I took a class from him once and I think he's awesome.

The Renegade Writer Blog
This isn't my favorite, but it's great for getting info about starting your freelance career. The women who run it are the authors of the Renegade Writer books, and they know what they're talking about. Plus, they're fun to read and smart, smart, smart.

Barbara's Blog
This is the blog of noted feminist author Barbara Ehrenreich. A lot of the recent stuff on here has nothing to do with journalism--it's more about race and class issues, which are also interesting--but she does ocassionally write some interesting and well-thought-out posts on trends in journalism.

Okay, your turn. What are your favorites?

press release rate info

Anyone have any experience writing press releases? An existing client I do Web copy for wants to know what I'd charge for a press release, and I'm not sure so I thought I'd see if any of you have experience setting rates for this kind of work. I'm gonna look in Writers Market too, of course. The client has pretty deep pockets, so I'm less afraid of scaring them than I am of embarrassing myself.

(If this is too OT for a community about journalism, please feel free to smack me down, O Great Moderatress.)

Found this...

Do any of you visit mediabistro.com? They have a very interesting discussion in their forums about using intro e-mails rather than specific pitches to get freelance work.

One of the writers of The Renegade Writer's series is contributing to the discussion, scroll down to the bottom to see her comments.

Discussion is here.

Phew!

Well, I just sent a query off to a website I've been really wanting to write for. Thanks to everyone who gave me advice on querying. *fingers crossed*

Never say die, people!

I just got a response to a query I sent... two months ago. Not only did the editor say it looked good for a fall issue, she offered me an unrelated (and interesting!) story idea that they came up with. I was starting to get pessimistic and crabby about my article queries not getting positive responses, but this just goes to show that sometimes it just takes a little longer.

seeking advice on queries

I admit, cold querying has never been my strong suit, and I'm just coming off a several month break from freelancing. But I'm ready to get back in the game. So I'm curious to hear about people's querying styles, and any other tips or advice you may have. Thanks!

Update

One query sent to Ladies Home Journal.

Next: craft and send a query to CJR. I think I have all the info I need for that one....

How's your querying going? What's your latest query you sent out?

The life of a freelancer

Have any of you been following the Philadelphia Inquirer's mini-hubbub about what it's like to be a freelancer? The original column paints freelancing as a world of puppy dogs and all-day pajama work. The linked story paints freelancing as (no kidding) a hussle akin to "slinging crack."

I'd like to submit that it's somewhere between the two, at least for me.

I've been freelancing full-time for a year now. I am writing this right now sans bra and in my Victoria's Secret flannel PJs. I have health insurance--abominable, but available for annual exams, allergy medicine and the odd catastrophic illness--and I pay my bills on time every single month, without the help of friends, family or credit cards (I haven't used a credit card since September). I have also been working away at bill collection, pitches, getting assignments, transcribing an interview and writing two stories I have due tomorrow.

All in all, I have this abundant life where I wake up to every day and get to choose what I write about for the most part. I get some assignments on things like decking material that I couldn't care less about. But mostly I get to talk to really interesting people, write about things that I think are important and/or interesting and/or fun. And I don't have to get dressed and deal with the petri dish that is public transportation at rush hour to do it. I can get up late and meditate if I want. I can work late to do an interview if I want. I can even take time off in the middle of the day to go grocery shopping or to the gym if I want.

But make no mistake: I work hard.

I don't see what wearing PJs or even taking a break to go to the gym has to do with hard work, really. One very successful freelancer I talked to when I was considering doing this told me that when she takes a short 20-minute catnap in the middle of the day, she's more productive. I find that when I take my full hour lunch break (which I could never manage when I was on staff at a newspaper), I am more ready to work when I come back.

Sure, there are things I can do: I can get up earlier and make sending queries my first-thing-in-the-morning priority. I think that would be useful to me and my bottom line. But that would only augment my already successful career. I think some freelancers might be afraid that if they tell people they work in their pajamas, they'll get laughed off the proverbial stage. I admit that I don't lead with that. I lead with, "I'm writing a profile for $1 a word and working on a story for the Chronicle's Sunday Real Estate cover." But both are true.

What do you think?

Inexpensive journalism workshops

Hi gang,

Folks from another list I'm on passed around this link:

The Poynter Institute's Inexpensive and awesome journalism workshops

They happen around the country and cost as little as $50 depending on the length of the workshop. So if you're looking for more inspiration or have a tax deduction burning a hole in your pocket, this may be the way to go.

There isn't one in my city, but I'm seriously considering flying to Portland for the workshop up there. I have a friend there and it's near my birthday, so I'm willing to bet I might be able to swing a birthday trip out of it.

What do you think? Do you ever do continuing education stuff?

Introduction

I am SO GLAD to find this group. I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself and give a tiny bit of background.

I'm Denise and new to freelancing. Like... just getting started new.

I have always been a writer for as long as I can remember. In high school, I found the love for Journalism and won many awards. At junior college, I got a piece of fiction published in the school literary journal. Then at my university, I worked for the school news paper. I went on to spend a year and a half at a small newspaper where I did almost EVERYTHING, and I quickly got burned out.

My husband's job is far from normal, and time together is extra precious due to it. Out of the blue one day, freelancing literally fell into my lap. After discussing it with my husband (and parents and best friends) it was agreed that it was something I should pursue... and now its something I AM DOING. I am determined to make this my living.

Being a newlywed, our finances are squeaky tight, and I am probably going to have to take some sort of (at least) a part-time job soon to get us by while I get this off the ground to a more steady level. But... this is what I want to do and this is what I am and will do.

I have already approached the newspaper in a local small town about coming on as a stringer. I do anticipate hearing back from them in the next day or two. The managing editor was so excited about my offer as she can never get people to cover local events on weekends. I told her I'd be happy to work on weekends and cover anything she needs me to handle.

One publication here, Nashville Scene, is owned by Village Voice. I applied there for a Staff Writer's position recently, and received the form letter of, "Good luck in your job search, but we don't need you." However, I have my heart set on seeing a story of mine in that publication.

Past that, I'm still researching and chasing all the possibilities open to me. I am so excited to find this group. It's frustrating feeling like no one really understands the whole freelancing as a career. I see all the people around me looking at me like, "Why doesn't she get a job." I HAVE one... its just non-traditional. I hope I can learn from all of you, and definitely find the support that I need to keep pushing forward.