Posts Tagged ‘freelance journalist’

They don’t teach this in J school

How freelance writers stay motibvatedOne of the most important skills for a freelancer to have is one that isn’t taught in J school, nor is it something you can learn on the job. It’s something that requires constant nurturing and attention. Yep, you guessed it. The M word. MOTIVATION.

Motivation is what gets us out of bed every day, that elusive thing that keeps us sitting at our desks or working on our iPads until the story is done. It’s what encourages us to pitch to new publications, endure rejection after rejection, and work at our craft day after day. It’s also what keeps us from getting distracted when doing the dishes or washing a load of laundry seems more appealing than plugging away at the computer. Motivation drives us to earn a paycheck, and it is what causes us to choose work over taking a nap.

For some of us, motivation comes easy. We live for words and we can’t wait to see our next story published or produced. For others, it is a daily battle. To be a successful freelancer, we each need to find something that motivates us – daily. For me, my motivation is two-fold. As a single mother, I am motivated by the desire to care for my small family. Freelancing is my full-time day job, and if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. But my motivation goes beyond that (most days). I am also motivated by the desire to meet new people, learn new things and to share important stories with the world.

I have slow days like everyone else though, where I just can’t get going. I move beyond those by going through the motions. I get up, get dressed, brush my teeth, have breakfast and sit down at my desk to peruse the latest news. Then I log in to Facebook and go through my friends’ news feeds. Because many of my friends are freelancers or fellow journalists, I see clips of their latest stories. This often inspires me. If that doesn’t work, I log into my @spjdana Twitter account where I follow a number of well-respected journalists. Their work nearly always sparks me to work on my own projects.

And some days I just don’t have it. Unless I’m on deadline, I treat myself to a few hours off to take a walk, go the gym, play with Jelly Bean, or, yep, you guessed it – take a nap! At some point, my motivation kicks in.

These tips might not work for you, but this article offers several dozen ways to get motivated:  Motivation, Inspiration and Encouragement for Writers. Find one, or ten, that work for you. You’re portfolio (and paycheck) will thank you!

Freelancer Dana Neuts share tips to keep writers motivated.

Dana Neuts, Freelance Journalist
National SPJ Secretary/Treasurer
2013 Candidate for President-Elect


Based in the Seattle area, Dana Neuts is a freelance writer, editor and marketing pro. She is also the publisher of, an award-winning hyperlocal blog highlighting news, events and more in the Kent, Washington community. Most recently, her work has appeared in The Seattle Times, 425 magazine, South Sound magazine, Grow Northwest and Seattle Woman magazine. For more information, or to contact Dana, visit her website,

Freelancing with a Family

Contributed by Kathy Ehrich Dowd, freelance writer

Want to be there for your child’s every milestone, but aren’t ready to surrender your creative-yet-professional side after your kiddo is born? There is no perfect solution, but freelancing seems to come pretty close.

I have been a full-time freelance journalist since 2004 and have always loved many things about the gig — the flexibility, the variety of assignments, and the lack of commute to name a few — but I have never loved my setup more than these past 18 months during pregnancy and the birth of my son.

While other preggos lamented exhausted days filled with battling nausea during client meetings, swollen ankles crammed into “professional” shoes or the simple act of getting out of bed for work after a sleepless night, I slept in as needed, happily attended my Tuesday morning prenatal yoga class and worked comfortably, often in stretch pants and slippers.

I have become even more grateful for my freelance life after my son was born. While some full-time working away from home moms I know battle guilt because they feel they aren’t spending enough quality time with their kids and some stay-at-home-mom buddies struggle with the loss of their intellectual, “adult” side, I realize I am incredibly fortunate to have the best of both worlds.

My son is now 9 months old and I feel lucky to have figured out a work/life balance that works well for me and my son — for now, anyway. I take him to daycare three times a week after his first nap (usually about 10:30 or 11, much later than most other kids whose parents need to rush out the door early in the morning). My parents are usually available to come on his non-daycare days as needed, and my husband can handle weekends if I need to work. When my son is home with me I will often work during his naps and can occasionally sneak in an email or two when he’s awake — I just have to keep a watchful eye to make sure he’s not biting the vacuum cord or getting into some other kind of crawling baby trouble!

What this all means is that I can spend hours in the playroom with my son singing songs, helping him learn to walk and simply marveling at this tiny person who discovers something new practically everyday. Babies are babies for such a short time, and I revel in the time we spend together. And, I must admit, I revel in our time apart, where I can pursue the journalism career I love, without the guilt.

Freelancing can be tough. It can be isolating, the work/cash flow can be uncertain and the administrative aspects of the job can be a hassle, but if you’re a journalist and also a mom (or dad!) to little ones, freelancing offers something so many careers do not: lots of flexible, unhurried time with the people you love most. To me, that is worth more than anything.

Kathy Ehrich Dowd is a frequent contributor to PEOPLE Magazine and has also written for TV Guide, USA Today, Women’s World, the New York Daily News, and many other publications. Learn more at

Freelance Toolbox: Are you cut out for the freelance life?

Are you cut out for the freelance life?In the December 2010 online issue of SPJ’s Quill magazine:

As our media world changes and adapts to new business models, rules and tools, I am often asked what it takes to be a freelance journalist. Sure, it requires a passion for journalism, some marketing know-how and a lot of business savvy, but to earn a decent living, a freelance journalist also needs skills and resources that are not necessarily obvious to the outside observer. A successful freelancer must also possess specific knowledge and skills, have access to necessary resources, be willing to adapt his or her personality as needed, develop a curiosity about the ins and outs of freelancing and define an exit strategy, or Plan B, should freelancing fall short of fame and fortune. Are you cut out for the freelance life? Let’s see if you have what it takes…

Read the full article here


Twitter Facebook Google Plus RSS Instagram Pinterest Pinterest LinkedIn

© Society of Professional Journalists. All rights reserved. Legal

Society of Professional Journalists
Eugene S. Pulliam National Journalism Center, 3909 N. Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46208
317/927-8000 | Fax: 317/920-4789 | Contact SPJ Headquarters | Employment Opportunities | Advertise with SPJ