I was inspired to write this blog by a fellow APSU alumni who blogged on her site about how some professionals look down on freelancers. I'll link you to her blog at the bottom of this one.
Let me tell you something about freelance--it opens doors. In my experience, it opened many. A week after graduating from APSU in August of 2009, I got my first freelance job. I was hired by Business Clarksville Magazine. They were a new company, so they couldn't afford to put me on straight salary or hire me as staff, but I was freelance, getting paid per article. A year later, The Tennessee Tribune hired me for freelance. (I became staff in less than a month) Last December, I wrote some freelance articles for The Tri-State Defender. In doing all of this freelance work, my resume exploded in a little over a year.
Some people like freelance and others don't. In my opinion, here are the pros and cons.
*It's real work. You're getting paid.
*The more your name is in the byline, the better. Whether you're a journalist or a photographer, every story you write or picture you take gets your name out there. Every little bit of exposure counts.
*You can put freelance work on your resume or portfolio.
*Some people never get staff positions and make their living by freelancing. If you can get enough freelancing gigs, you may be set.
*You can work from your own home. I live in Clarksville, but two of the publications I write for are in Memphis and Nashville. Rather than making trips out there, I generally interview my sources over the phone, write my articles, and email them to my editors.
*If you work from home, you can make your own schedule.
*Depending on the company you freelance for, payment may be uncertain. I've talked to several people who have had the unfortunate experience of waiting months to get paid. Not every place is like this, of course. But you should discuss payments up front so that there's no surprises.
*No benefits or insurance
To be honest, those are the only two drawbacks. If you get the opportunity to freelance somewhere, go for it. It may seem like a small gig, but it gives you exposure, experience, and feeds your resume.
And, here's a secret. Employers will sometimes view your freelance work as an audition. If you do impressive work and keep knockin' em dead, you'll increase your chances of becoming staff. Or, they may give you so many assignments that you'll eventually become financially set on freelance alone. So when you're freelancing, always give it your best shot.
Freelance has done great by me. When I graduated from college, the economy was at its worst. Newspapers and magazines weren't hiring staff, but were sometimes open to freelancers. At the moment, I write for the The Tennessee Tribune the most because I'm staff there. I'm getting married next week, and we'll likely be moving to Nashville and getting our first house. So I'm slacking up on freelancing at the moment. (I honestly don't have the time to write additional articles for anyone else right now). After we move to Nashville later this summer and get settled, I'll become a shameless self-promoter again, sending my website URL to different publications in Tennessee and elsewhere.
Even though The Tennessee Tribune keeps me busy, I'm still going to freelance elsewhere. It's additional money and exposure. It's going to aide me in my transition from being a Tennessee journalist to a national journalist. Even after I retire, I still may write freelance pieces from time to time. I love writing that much.
My advice to any upcoming journalist or photojournalist is to freelance.
Here is a link to my friend Tinea's blog.
A.J. Dugger is an Award-Winning Television and Print & Media Journalist.