Going solo: Is this the time for freelancers and hyperlocal?


London from the air.jpgBy Ewan Palmer


By now it’s unlikely that journalists want to hear any more about how their industry is in turmoil. So how about suggesting ideas to sustain the craft: is the future in freelancing? Does it lie in entrepreneurialism?

From employment to self-employed

Working for yourself is an obvious solution for the thousands of journalists who have lost their jobs over the past two years – if you can’t find work then make it yourself.

Some people have been able to do this like journalism and technology site 10,000 Words – creator Mark S Lucie has since released his own book. The main problem is that this kind of online publishing requires a whole new range of skills.

But the problem is: there are more freelancers around now than ever before which makes standing out all the more difficult. Whereas before, the pitching to an editor skill or winning an elevator pitch  was vital, this is no longer enough.

Extra multimedia skills – video, audio, photography – may at first appear to put some people off, as well as the daunting thought of trying to earn a living entirely off your own back.

Show me the money

On top of all that, journalists must also now think like entrepreneurs and answer the question: "How will this make money?"

Some journalists have created their own start-ups or hyperlocal sites. These sites are either run independently by people who used to rely on their paychecks from the mainstream media or by students who are already realizing how difficult finding a traditional job in the industry will be.

The only way these sites will work if they can offer the audience a true niche, the kind that a mass media outlet like a printed newspaper can’t provide. But hyperlocal sustainable? Can advertising revenue aimed at a certain postcode really be enough?

We’ll be discussing all this and more at the Frontline Club on Tuesday April 6, at an event specially for freelance journalists. There will be a discussion on the trials and tribulations of becoming a freelancer, as well as advice for going solo from a our panel of experts Adam Westbrook, Anne Wollenberg, Deborah Bonello and John Brazier. Book tickets here now.

Pic credit, via a Creative Commons licence: sarah_sosiak.

Update: Please find below a link left by Mr Graham Holliday about his start up in Rwanda, and how he doesn’t care about whether it makes money.