“You must love the freedom of being a freelancer”, friends often tell me when we’re talking about work. “No boss, no fixed hours and no one telling you what to do.” All of those things are true. And yet, these best parts of independent journalism life can sometimes also be the hardest. No boss means no one giving you guidance, no fixed hours means no routine and no automatic discipline to work at certain times, and no one telling you what to do means you have to come up with every single aspect of your job yourself.
Over the past 13 years in freelance journalism, I have often found that the best new ideas and insights came to me when I allowed myself to spend some time away from the day-to-day job. In the era of smartphones, personal and work messages often blur. Work can come through via the most unexpected routes: I’ve landed new jobs and clients via LinkedIn comments, Facebook chats and direct messages on Twitter, just to name a few. There are always emails to reply to, pitches to send and stories to read.
If you don’t actively plan some time away from the desk, it can be hard to spot new opportunities and develop story ideas and new products in this changing media landscape. Despite the beauty of technology, social media and the internet, I think reflecting, discovering and brainstorming are often the most effective when done on a weekend day, preferably in a different environment, with different but like-minded people.
I’m looking forward to getting inspired and helping others passionate about independent journalism to inspire themselves. There are a final few places left on the Journopreneur Workshop on Saturday 22 March in London for those keen to get started.
With the spring sun appearing, let’s give our journalism careers a skills and energy boost to grow.