Archive for March, 2009

Helpful tool?

Hi guys, This just popped up in my e-mail. I haven’t had a chance yet to check it out. Let me know if it looks good. Amy

When I was a freelance writer, I toiled many a late night over contracts, billing, and on other dreary albeit essential tasks.

Now there’s a new free online service ( that handles all of this in a simple intuitive interface.  FastDue offers a great invoicing tool that automatically reminds clients when their bills are past due. It includes templates to create tons of legal forms, and ways to customize, negotiate and execute contracts online with legally binding electronic signatures. Everything is stored and tracked for instant access in users’ free online accounts.

Online invoicing typically reduces time businesses spend on invoicing by over 50%, cuts collection cycles by 40%, and increases collections by approximately 10%. These savings are especially crucial to a freelancer’s survival in this tough economy.

Unlike other Software as a Service (SaaS) suites,’s services are free. We will add paid Premium features soon, but our core services will remain free, supported by ads. FastDue is angel funded.  Series A round, which included two other undisclosed projects, was $3 million.

I’ve enclosed a short fact sheet about FastDue. I hope you will visit us at and share information about us on your SPJ blog for freelancers. I would have killed for FastDue when I was on my own.

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Committee report

Hi guys, here is our latest committee report, which I sent to SPJ headquarters yesterday. Hope everyone had a good weekend! Amy

SPJ Freelance Committee
March 29, 2009

Our committee has been most active in the following ways:

Questions. Foremost we are a resource for freelance journalists who work often in relative isolation and obscurity. The business is rife with misconception and misunderstanding, but interest is growing as the industry collapses. I alone receive at least a dozen e-mails a month with questions about the business, from seasoned freelancers, recent graduates and everyone in between. The e-mails come from as far away as Europe and Africa and ask about how to get started, how to get published and how to get paid. Some are very general, and some are case-specific. Vice chairwoman Stephenie Overman receives an equal share. Together we answer each one.

Blog. Freelance journalism can be solitary work. Before I served in this position I peeked in on SPJ’s blog for freelancers often to see what was new and feel as though I belonged somewhere. Accordingly I am trying to make our blog as active as possible. I write how-to posts as often as I can about the business. When I get interesting questions I share them and my answer. I invite others to weigh in. I post news and job announcements. I invite other freelancers to serve as guest bloggers.

Ideally I’d like to see more voices here. I would like to create a vibrant online forum or community. We freelancers are so diverse, and I am only one person with my own unique set of experiences. I realize this isn’t necessarily helpful for everyone. I am trying to generate more activity here.

Quill. The freelance committee has resurrected our regular column for freelancers, and I am pleased to report we have had some nicely written, interesting columns. How to apply for awards. How to start freelancing after a lay-off. I just received a column today from an American freelancer in Eastern Europe who has written about his experience.

Programs. Chapters nationwide have been holding programs on freelancing. Region 1 in Philadelphia (April 24-25) and Region 2 in Arlington, Va., (March 28) have planned sessions on freelancing. We also are planning sessions for the national conference.

Committee teleconferences. Since September our committee has been unable to schedule a meeting, but Stephenie plans to organize one soon.

Overall it has been a positive first few months for me in this position. I enjoy hearing from a diversity of freelancers and learning about their experiences. We always could do more with more time and resources, but I feel we are well-positioned to help those in this line of work, temporarily or long-term, during such a transitionary time for our industry.


Amy Green, Freelance committee chairwoman

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In these uncertain recessionary times, job security is as comforting and essential as health insurance. And in a changing media industry, gaining new journalistic skills and furthering your education are more important than learning the inverted pyramid and memorizing AP Style.

Whether you’re an editor, reporter, broadcaster, designer, photographer or full-time freelancer, every journalist will benefit from a visit to The site is full of professional development opportunities for everyone in the media industry. From one-day photo illustration sessions to full week-long workshops on better writing, the training you need and want is listed at this one-stop resource.

Created by the Council of National Journalism Organizations and maintained by the Society of Professional Journalists, the site is extremely easy to use. Search by location, topic or time of year for training that will help you advance your career and give you the tools you need to stay at the leading edge of technology.

But don’t just take our word. Check out some of these upcoming opportunities you’ll find on

Advocating Our Agenda, sponsored by National Association of Broadcasters

Power Networking, sponsored by National Press Club

Reality Check –“Where is Education Heading?”, sponsored by Education Writers Association

Retirement Issues in the 21st Century, sponsored by National Press Foundation

IRP Fellowships in International Journalism, sponsored by Pew International Journalists-in-Residence Fellowships.

Aside from great training opportunities, the site has listings of journalism blogs from organizations such as News University and Society for News Design for training tips and story ideas. Visit the Reading Room to find topics such as “Protecting Your Work” and “The Business of the News Business.” Or bring customized training to your newsroom provided by names you trust. is a collaboration among the Council of National Journalism Organizations, the Society of Professional Journalists, press and broadcast associations, and schools of journalism. It is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

For more information or to suggest a resource for, write to or call SPJ today at (317) 927-8000.

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