The first time that Julia Furlan tried freelancing, she only earned $14,000/year, but she gained valuable skills from the experience and has more success freelancing.
Furlan, alongside Monica Castillo, imparted tips for freelancing.
Monica Castillo and Julia Furlan advise attendees on getting started in freelancing at the Excellence in Journalism conference in San Antonio on Sept. 6. (RTDNAPhoto/Sarah Al-Arshani)
- Do not work for free, not even in the beginning. Beyond the financial toll, Furlan explained that working for free has an emotional toll.
- When pitching to an editor, get the name right.
- Know the publication. Someone once pitched Castillo a story on a male-dominated movie, but the publication focused on women in film. The pitch was not accepted.
- Keep the pitch short. “If you cannot sell it in an elevator pitch, then it’s probably not going to fit into 800 words,” Castillo said.
- Be careful of how much information is revealed in a cold pitch. “I normally don’t show all my cards to people,” Castillo said.
- While a pitch should include an angle, a plan and a reason to buy it, don’t reveal every source.
- Keep track of invoices. Follow up on payments. “If you do not track down your money, it will not come,” Furlan said.
- Be real on how much time it takes to accomplish tasks and plan accordingly.
- Join a group of freelancers. It creates a nice community to talk to about the industry,
- Freelancers need to prioritize taking care of themselves. “Your health is not worth compromising,” Furlan said.
- Be confident. Furlan said she initially faced “imposter syndrome” when she started freelancing and that she needed to be “more confident in her own skills.”
- Keep track of finances. Castillo uses an excel sheet to keep track of her spending.
- Figure out if an LLC or other business structure is the right choice.
- Be careful when pitching a personal narrative. Try not to reveal too much.
- Read the contract. Look for keywords like “intellectual property” or “retain rights.”
- Foster relationships and maintain a good reputation.
Whether it is a full time commitment or a side hustle, there are many things to think about before beginning to freelance. These 15 tips can help to navigate the field.