Learn the tested strategies of 30 experienced freelance journalists to increase your self-management skills as a freelancer.
Freelancing is an attractive form of work because it allows individuals to have more autonomy in their careers. While autonomy is certainly a plus, there are also unique challenges to freelancing, such as staying connected to other professionals, determining workload, and negotiating compensation. What advice do experienced freelancers have that can help future editors and writers navigate these stressful obstacles?
Cristian-Ramón Marín-Sanchiz et al. (2021) examined Spanish freelance journalists’ working conditions and the strategies they used to improve job satisfaction in “Survival Strategies in Freelance Journalism: An Empowering Toolkit to Improve Professionals’ Working Conditions.” The researchers conducted interviews with 30 freelance journalists, each with a variety of work experience—some still in college and some with over 20 years of experience. Each participant was asked 35 open-ended questions focused on topics related to freelance work.
After analyzing the interview responses, the researchers identified eight of the most commonly stated challenges to freelance work, three of which were:
- Generating income
- Ensuring job stability
- Managing working hours
From the journalists’ recommendations, Marín-Sanchiz et al. (2021) compiled six self-management strategies for overcoming these common freelance challenges:
- Negotiation: Learn how to negotiate with clients to confidently secure better payment.
- Rejection: Learn how to professionally reject inadequate compensation offers.
- Social Networks: Connect with other professionals to stabilize current connections and obtain new ones.
- Branding: Develop a personal brand strategy to build a greater network and establish yourself as a professional.
- Education: Seek out continual training to diversify your skillset.
- Association: Join professional groups or organizations to gain access to resources.
Marin-Sanchiz et al. (2021, 2) published these six strategies to function as a freelancer’s “toolkit” for professional success.
Though Marín-Sanchiz et al.’s (2021) study draws from perspectives of freelance journalists, the suggestions provided can likely be applied to all freelance editors and writers. The authors conclude: “Our depiction offers remarkable practical implications for creating higher job satisfaction levels among freelanc[ers] because the study has shown that professionals who are able to implement strategies that are stronger and more diverse are those with greater job satisfaction” (Marín-Sanchez et al. 2021, 19). For freelancers, managing all aspects of one’s career can feel overwhelming and isolating, but this study gives freelancers solutions and resources to aid in their job success. With these six self-management strategies now added to your professional toolkit, what others can you utilize and share with other freelancers?
Read more about how these strategies can help you in your freelance work:
Marin-Sanchiz, Cristian-Ramon, Miguel Caravajal, Jose-Luis Gonzalez-Esteban. 2021. “Survival Strategies in Freelance Journalism: An Empowering Toolkit to Improve Professionals’ Working Conditions.” Journalism Practice, https://doi.org/10.1080/17512786.2021.1929414.
—Emma Valentine, Editing Research
FEATURE IMAGE BY AYISHA HABIB
Find more research
Take a look at Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell’s (2005) book for more tips on navigating a freelance career: The Renegade Writer: A Totally Unconventional Guide to Freelance Writing. Nutting Lake: Renegade Writer Press.
Check out Zachary Petit’s (2015) book to learn more about how to be a successful freelancer: The Essential Guide to Freelance Writing. Cincinnati: Writer’s Digest Books.