Freelance

Freelancers make up a big segment of SEJ's membership. The work is a tricky mixture of contract negotiation, copyright issues, time management and story-selling. This page offers resources specifically tailored to those journalists.

DISCLAIMER: Various SEJ journalists and others have offered these links as sources of information. We pass them along as a service. The views expressed on these websites are not necessarily those of SEJ or its board. Some offer products and services. SEJ does not endorse any of these websites. Do your homework.

Have other ideas for content on this page? Email SEJ web content manager Cindy MacDonald.

  • Sign up for our SEJ member freelancers listserv: SEJ-Freelance. Go here for information on joining the listserv and accessing archives.
  • Check out SEJournal's Freelance Files for valuable tips and wisdom from environmental journalism freelancers.
  • See the resource list (updated in early 2020) compiled by SEJ freelancers Karen Schaefer and Meera Subramanian, who hosted a beat dinner in October 2010 at SEJ's 20th Annual Conference in Missoula, Montana to share information about how to make the freelance life work.

COVID-19 (and Other) Resources:

  • Coronovirus Relief Programs, Loans, Grants
  • Coronavirus Tax Breaks for US Citizens: Accounting Institute for Success offers a breakdown by state of deadline extensions, tax breaks and stimulus programs.
  • SEJ's COVID-19 compilation, updated daily, includes articles, resources, funding opps and online events.
  • The U.S. Journalism Emergency Fund, offered by the International Women's Media Foundation with support from Craig Newmark Philanthropies, is for staff or freelance journalists — regardless of gender — to access the resources they need to report safely on politics and unrest in the U.S. Rolling basis.
  • Sep 1, 2020: Drilled News seeks stringers for its Local Climate Accountability Reporting Network in these geographic areas:​ West Texas/Permian Basin; Corpus Christi, TX; Ohio River Valley (eastern Ohio and/or western Pennsylvania); and Louisiana Gulf Coast.
  • Jul 29, 2020: Outside/In Podcast and Radio, a show about the natural world and how we use it, has a brand new Pitch Page, and a renewed budget for freelance pieces. They're looking to work with all kinds of journalists, but as a podcast/radio show there will need to be SOME WAY of bringing sound into your stories. Either you need to be ready to record yourself, or work with a producer to make a plan for how to record audio.
  • Freelance Breaking News: Promises and Pitfalls. In the age of COVID-19, many news directors are turning to local independent journalists for coverage, trusting freelance reporters and photographers to supply continuing on-the-spot news. Join Washington, D.C.-area reporter and editor Stephenie Overman in a talk with freelance journalists Katie G. Nelson in Minneapolis and Haisten Willis in Atlanta. July 30, 2020.
  • Freelance Journalism Summer Camp: This intensive online course, run by full-time freelance journalist Abigail Edge, is an inspired DIY retreat for any freelance journalist feeling the urge to take stock and refresh their career goals. Over the course of four weeks we'll cover everything from pitching and ideas to branding and business skills, with Q&A sessions. June 15-July 6, 2020.
  • "Safety Protocols for Covering COVID-19 Aim To Protect Freelancers," IJNet, Jun 9, 2020, by Courtney C. Radsch.
  • Freelancer Focus: Pitching Environment and Science Stories to Mongabay. Jun 5, 2020. Notes and recording.
  • COVID-19’s Effects On Freelancing — and Its Future: Independent journalist and filmmaker Zoe Flood will speak to Melissa Noel, an independent multimedia journalist, and Marc Perkins, the managing editor for BBC Africa Eye, about the state of freelancing today. A collaboration of the International Center for Journalists, the International Women's Media Foundation, ACOS Alliance, the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma and the Frontline Freelance Register. Jun 2, 2020. Watch the recording.
  • Freelance Audio Fund: Association of Independents in Radio (AIR) provides emergency relief to the professional audio community impacted by COVID-19. Open to non-AIR members. Deadline: May 22, 2020.
  • How To Run Your Freelance Business Like a Pro During the Pandemic: In this Writers' Co-op event, co-hosts Wudan Yan, SEJ member, and Jenni Gritters, along with lawyer-turned-journalist KJ Yossman and media lawyer Jeremy Eggleton, will talk about the challenges freelance writers face in protecting their time and business in an ever-changing, fast paced assignment cycle exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. Q&A to follow. Free for The Writers' Co-op members; $5 for non-members. May 28, 2020.
  • Annuity.org: A free web finance resource, accredited by the Better Business Bureau, offers an annuities guide and COVID-19 financial guide.

 

100 Best Apps for Online Job Freelancers
While not aimed specifically at freelance journalists, this list researched and compiled by Small Revolution gives a rundown on apps to help any freelancer manage, streamline, collaborate and increase efficiency in their work.

A Culture of Safety Alliance
The ACOS Alliance offers resources, safety training, insurance and advice for freelance journalists.

Absolute Write
This site for beginners and professionals offers free newsletters, online forums, a writers directory, market listings, more.

ACOS Alliance
Established in 2015, the ACOS Alliance is a coalition of news organizations, freelance journalist associations and press freedom NGOs collaborating to promote safe and responsible journalistic practices. You'll find information on insurance, safety training, an information-sharing project and other resources.

AIR Rate Guides
AIR, a network of independent audio producers, multimedia journalists, and public media programs, stations and networks across 30 countries, publishes rate guides for public radio, day rates, editing and more. Guides last updated Sep 2019.

All About Freelancing
For members of the National Association of Science Writers, this site provides links for science freelances, a frequently-asked-questions section, listservs, writing tips for specific subjects, time management, contract negotiations and advice.

American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA)
Offers a range of information to non-members, including:

  • Position Papers on indemnification clauses, "work made for hire" and "All-Rights" contracts.
  • Information sheets on:
    • Contract Tips for Freelancers
    • E-Rights
    • Copyright Registration
    • Protecting Your Writing
    • Intellectual Property

American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP)
Established in 1946, ASMP addresses the concerns of independent publication photographers, offering resources and deep experience in dealing with issues such as licensing and other legal issues, business management, etc.

Annuity.org
A free web finance resource, accredited by the Better Business Bureau, offers an annuities guide on how to generate long-term income, which can greatly benefit those out of work or on a reduced income, and a COVID-19 financial guide.

Association of Independents in Radio (AIR)
Since 1988, AIR has been providing producers in radio- and audio-based media with professional development programs and resources, including mentoring, training and printed and online publications, as well as conferences and activities that expand networking, advocacy, employment and funding opportunities.

Canadian Freelance Union
CEP Media formed this union for Canadian freelancers in 2006 to "utilize its resources to create a strong collective voice for media freelancers and other independent communication professionals." $125/year.

Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma
The Dart Center offers a plethora of resources and a global network of journalists, journalism educators and health professionals dedicated to improving media coverage of trauma, conflict and tragedy. It is a project of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, with international satellite offices in London and Melbourne.

Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors (FIRE)
In 2016, with a $200,000 grant from a generous anonymous donor with a background in news reporting, Project Word launched a pilot project for a program to help unaffiliated journalists, Freelance Investigative Reporters and Editors (FIRE). Two services are provided: a complimentary help desk and a virtual newsroom. Last deadline was June 12, 2019. Sign up for FIRE's e-newsletter.

Freelance Journalists UK
Site aimed at freelancers in the United Kingdom, with links to contracts, markets, and discussion groups.

Freelance Success
A great subscription site ($99/year) for serious freelancers, providing a weekly newsletter; an online forum; access to tools and databases that make running a freelance business more profitable; practical advice on using technology, such as how to find sources online and how to locate editors who treat freelancers well (and how to steer away from those who don't welcome contributors); a personal link to writers' confabs and invitation-only networking groups; tips on how to manage your freelance business; and more.

Freelance Writing
Another freelancer's assortment of links, with news, agents, ideas.

The Freelancer's Essential Guide to Business and Taxes
All freelancers face instability. The purpose of this guide is to provide a concise, yet comprehensive reality check, so that you are fully prepared to protect, build upon and succeed in this new freelance-centric economy. The guide is free online, educational, inspirational and practical; it aims to teach you why the freelance economy is growing and how, as a freelancer, you can take advantage of that growth.

Freelancers Union
This organization offers group health and dental insurance to freelancers, as well as useful discounts to Zipcar, Barnesandnoble.com, and other resources. Includes a helpful section on Nonpaying Clients.

Freelancing 101: Your Complete Guide to Starting Successful Freelance Work
Zen Business' guide comprises a variety of topics on freelancing, including the pros and cons of this career; where to start and find work in desired freelance fields; resources and tools; tips on client management; and more.

Insurance

Frontline Freelance Register
A membership association, FFR is open to international freelance journalists who are exposed to risk in their work and who adhere to its Code of Conduct. FFR offers a sense of community to members while providing resources for their safety and professional practice.

How To Get Your First Upwork Job
This article comprises tips from freelancers who use Upwork on how to get yourself noticed and hired.

International Freelancers Academy
From the founders of International Freelancers Day, this website provides ongoing free video training to freelancers, consultants and solo professionals. Videos are available for 7 days only.

mediabistro.com
For folks who create or work with content, or who are non-creative professionals working in a content/creative industry — editors, writers, television producers, graphic designers, book publishers, people in production, and circulation departments, this "traveling press club" offers opportunities (both online and offline) for you to get to know each other, share resources, find job opportunities and interesting projects, improve career skills, and showcase your work. Bonus: they hold workshops and happy hours for freelancers all over the country!

Media Outlets That Publish Science (and Environment) Stories
SEJ member Robin Lloyd compiled this comprehensive 25-page list (last updated Feb 9, 2020). You can use and share it for free. Includes science, environment, health, climate, nature and tech media. Mainly U.S. and Canada, English-language; some Latin America. Scroll toward the bottom for additional resources, indemnity information, source-finding resources and more.

National Writers Union
Offers a lot of diverse material even to non-members, including:

  • Writer Alerts
  • Book Authors Page, with advice on copyright, electronic rights, and royalties.
  • Journalists Page, with tips on standard journalism contracts, copyright, "kill fees," all-rights contracts, work-for-hire, and "indemnification" clauses. Also offers a contract-advice network, help with negotiations and tips on the sale of electronic rights.
  • Grievances Page
  • Contract Advice
  • Rights for Creators Campaign
  • National Writers Union Freelance Writers' Guide

Members Only services include:

  • Organizing and Education
  • Grievance Resolution
  • Contract Advice
  • Job Hotline
  • Health Insurance
  • Press Pass
  • Networking
  • Authors Network
  • Media Rates Database

Online Portfolio: How to Setup & What to Include
This website guides you through how to create an online portfolio that stands out and showcases your work, using either Wordpress or Wix.

Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC)
A national organization representing freelance writers and journalists across the country. Technical advice, book reviews, events, workshops, speaker's bureau, tons of resources. Includes extensive copyright info, all geared to freelancers.

Peter's Place of Freelance Journalism
Offers all kinds of links, with special attention to markets and to issues in Canada.

Poynter Institute
Offers information here on training and events; great one-stop shops for writing and reporting tips; News University, 100+ interactive journalism courses.

SEJ's Jobs Page
A collection of Internet sites listing job openings in journalism. Some may include environmental journalism jobs. See also SEJ's Job Board.

SEJ's Mentor Program
We pair veteran environmental reporters with newcomers to the beat, or with less experienced reporters who want to improve their skills. We also accept applications from university-level students who have demonstrated an interest in environmental journalism, although our program is primarily designed to benefit "mentees" who are already working as professionals. SEJ members only. Join SEJ.

The Ultimate Freelancer’s Guide: Everything You Need to Know About Getting Jobs, Getting Paid and Getting Ahead
Takes freelancers through every step of the process with information on building a brand, business registration, finding jobs, setting rates, getting paid and managing financials. This comprehensive piece is meant to help both those interested in joining or already navigating the freelance world.

Wave Invoicing Software
Wave Financial offers "free forever" customizable freelancer invoice templates in Word, Excel, PDF, Google Docs, and Google Sheets with associated accounting features including credit card processing and payroll services.

Worldwide Freelance
Offers a free newsletter, markets database, writing software, links as well as additional perks for members.

Writers-Editors Network
Four levels of membership with paid job postings, market information, access to a media attorney, marketing tips, business-building strategies, and valuable networking help.

The Writers' Co-op
Launched in 2020, this business podcast is for freelance writers everywhere. It's hosted by SEJ member Wudan Yan and freelancer Jenni Gritters. Hear about finding clients, diversifying income streams, saying no, taking care of your mental health, negotiating contracts, getting paid on time and more. Apple Podcasts. Spotify.

WritersWeekly.com
For newer freelancers, this writing ezine offers a free weekly newsletter, a books and courses list, articles, warnings, information on markets, and more.