I am a Freelance Journalist who works part time as an Information Director and is also about to graduate with my master’s in New Media Journalism next week. I am reaching out to you because I would like to find out how you were able to transition into a full-time freelance journalist after working for a publication. I know your story about your previous place of employment and how after you were let go you decided to do freelancing full time. Currently, I am about to be at the stage in my life where I will be reaching out to publications//news outlets who are hiring. This will be my second time doing this. My first time was when I graduated with my B.A in Communication. Honestly, after having a boss already and having the opportunity to write my own pieces during my master’s program, I just want to be my own boss and write for different publications as a full-time freelance writer. Would you be able to provide me with any tips or advice on how to make this transition?
Also, I have been trying to sell some of the pieces I wrote to a couple of publications but I have not had any luck yet. I feel the article s I’ve pitched are good enough to get published. Do you have any suggestions on how I can get this done?
The most important thing for me was building relationships with editors. So even when they reject pitches, I always follow up and ask if there's a topic or an angle they are looking to assign a story about. I try to be really pleasant and easy to work with, and recognize that my words aren't super precious-- that they have a job to do in making every article fit their editorial tone and vision.
I don't know whether you've ever taken a workshop on pitching or whether your masters program covered it thoroughly, but that's something I would look into, too. It's a real art, and there are a handful of writers and editors (and places like MediaBistro) that offer quick courses to help you get better at it. I suggest this because most editors wouldn't be eager to assign something that's already been written in full-- they like to be pitched, and to shape the article themselves. So sending links to complete work is something that many magazine editors won't be very receptive to.
And finally, it takes a long time to build up the contacts an experience to be full-time freelance and not starve. I worked for almost 10 years as an editor before I went freelance, and I rely on those years of staff experience (and the contacts I met during that time) every day. So recognize that you might have to work up to your self-employment goals incrementally.