Why a Journalist Could Be the Best Freelance Hire You’ll Ever Make
Local news is losing workers faster than you can say “Breaking News Right Now.” I won’t call people like me former journalists because it’s really something that never leaves us. We are always looking for the next big story or vetting bad information we find online.
Not only can we write the heck out of story in record time, we’re excellent at spotting bogus GoFundMe accounts or researching the person you’re about to hire. You might have background checks, but you don’t have the inquisitive mind of a journalist.
You, as a business owner, marketing firm, or organization should be looking for us. There really isn’t anything in a freelance content world that we can’t do.
There might be some hesitancy when you wanted to market content instead of writing news. Is it going to be boring? Is it going to be a list of facts and not enough storytelling?
Too many journalists wonder “Will my skills translate outside of news” and I’m here to echo a resounding “YES!”
Not only will they translate, you bring a fluency many other can’t.
If you have any hesitation, let me tell you why you’re wrong.
- Get The Story: Journalists have made a career in getting the story and getting it right. We see beyond headlines and look for the emotion or motivation behind a story. We never give up finding the answer. I once wrote a story about puppies being born with their eyes open and I got “NO” at every turn until someone said “Yes” and I could have vetted information, not just a random blog.
- Multi-Skilled: The average journalist has balanced a story of the day, social media, getting good content to marketing to promote the story, updating social media every step of the story, writing their story on a digital platform, doing live shots on various platforms, and getting it all done by the deadline. They can edit, report, write, create social media posts, measure success, and juggle 100 things at once.
- Quickly Get Facts: While journalists are generally trained to dig into stories and get data that supports or negates subjective information, we can use those same skills to dig into vetted sources that support the goals of your business. We know a million data-driven legitimate websites that will create incredible backlinks.
- On Camera Presence: Even if someone is like me who isn’t a reporter or anchor by trade, we’ve all had to adapt to being on camera. Whether it was a producer being interviewed daily about the stories coming up in their newscasts, digital producers doing lives showing what’s trending today, or a News Director driving into work and doing Facebook lives about road conditions in a blizzard, we can all be on camera. We can also train your team on how to be dynamic on-air or online.
- Deadline Driven: “Wow, you’re fast.” I can’t believe the number of times I’ve heard that since switching to freelance work. I don’t need 10 days to write “5 Ways to Enjoy the Desert.” I can have that in two hours.
- Research: If you want research done, there’s no better dog to give a bone to than a journalist. Even if you just want competitive data or you want to see the best practices of TikTok, we can scour and find anything you want. We quickly had to become experts in any news topic of the day, so there’s no topic you are going to send us that will scare us away. I never know I could know so much about Novel viruses, housing rates, and random things like the difference between battery and assault.
- Honesty: We’ve had the mayor slam doors in our faces repeatedly or been told by many a people to go do sexual things to ourself, and we still reported the story. Your CEO isn’t going to intimidate us and we’ve dealt with everyone from the Presidential detail to the football fan who is mad a tornado warning interrupted the game.
- Competitive: We aren’t so wrapped up in our own pride that we look down on others. We simply believe we’re racing against them to be the best. Local news is built on being #1 in an archaic ratings system where we’re always hoping that 1-5 people don’t turn off the news before 10:07:00pm nightly. We also lived in a world where seconds mattered and sending a push notification or updating social media first meant everything. We lived for the word “exclusive.”
- Contacts: If you need the police chief’s mobile phone number or a mom who was frustrated with the mask mandate, we’ve got them in our phones already. If we don’t know someone, we know someone who does. If you don’t know how to find media pages and newsrooms for corporations, we do. If we’ve been on air in your designated market, you’ve also got a trusted name, voice, or byline on top of all the other skills.
I know some of my clients have expressed concern with journalists always wanting to “find the story” or “being too negative (aka “truthful)” about a topic. Let me tell you, we can pivot.
We’ve been at every station event. We’ve walked miles for the Heart Association and used our social media status to spread the word. We closely worked with marketing and promotions to make sure we had good content being promoted in the right places. We fought for placement in a rundown by selling the goods of our stories. We jumped up and down with pride when our story “won the web” the day before.
We followed the rules of news and we can just as easily follow the rules of your brand. The only thing we won’t do? Lie.
But Don’t Journalists Make a Lot of Money?
Sadly, we don’t. Many smaller newsrooms don’t even meet that $15 an hour mark many fast food restaurants pay. On top of that, we might work an overnight shift one day and a night shift the next and have one day off before working 10 days straight. Getting a quality of life improvement and a schedule we can set on our own has its own value, but unless you are looking for bottom feeders, you are going to be giving someone a raise.
Few people can hustle like a journalist. In fact, the biggest challenge is getting us to slow down. The hustle is ingrained in us. While we’re looking to slow down, we don’t want to go back to crawling either.
I can tell you this – there are hundreds of people who might be looking for someone to “Green Light” their Great Resignation from news. It’s just a matter of finding their social media watering holes and asking other journalists who’ve made the transition.
We’re affordable, skilled, and ready to work. What are you waiting for?