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NCTJ Careers Home Industry Sectors Freelancing

Freelancing is something many journalists turn to at some time in their careers. It can be a way of developing their career, of jumping to the next level at certain key points or be a way of life that suits their approach to work.

Some senior journalists, who have a wealth of experience behind them, find they can sell themselves as consultants, called in when a publication needs fundamental re-directing, or when a publisher has a project that needs editorial development.

It is very hard to start your career as a freelance in any branch of journalism where you need well developed skills – such as news reporting or sub-editing. Those who manage to start their career as freelances are much more likely to do so as feature writers of some description. Often reporters on regional newspapers take shifts on nationals at the same time in order to develop their career.

Freelancing is also common in broadcasting. The advent of a forest of independent production companies has meant that the old, established career structure has been fractured. Many broadcasters have set up their own production companies, or now offer their services to these independents.

A way of thriving as a freelance is to become an expert in some key area which is regularly in the news but which is too specialised for most publications to employ a staffer. You might know everything about budget airlines, for example, and write about them for a range of newspapers, magazines and websites. You might find you can get a book commissioned on the subject, and then you will find that TV and radio regularly ask you to appear.