My Entrepreneur Freelance Advice for UWA Journalism Students

I’ve been a member of the media for about a decade now. Originally as an amateur blogger, then a professional blogger which segued 4 years ago into working in the mainstream media with my content/ideas appearing on Australian and International media platforms including print, online, radio and TV.

ABC Ultimo TARDIS - radio interview recording studio

John Bergin (@theburgerman) is Engagement Editor with SBS News but he also oversees an online journalism course at the University of Western Australia. John recently interviewed me for a podcast his students listened to regarding “how to make it on your own”, an examination of the importance and role of freelancers and entrepreneurialism in the media.

Looking at the industry in the cold hard light of day digital journalism earns a business a few cents in revenue where the same journalism in print 10-20 years ago would have earnt a dollar. This directly translates to far fewer jobs and smaller freelance budgets. This will get worse in the near to mid term, not better

Payments for business technology articles have stagnated at 50-60c/word for many years, losing purchasing power in real terms for paying transport, heating, insurance and other costs a freelancer has to cover. Some publications pay even less and are sourcing an increasing proportion of their articles from vendors or academics who write for free to improve their reputation.

With audiences dwindling, share prices plummeting and advertisements and classifieds no longer offering the so-called “rivers of gold” to bankroll journalism, a noisy army of pundits have been predicting the death of traditional media for some time now.

Media moguls have hit back with paywalls, but not even the smartest metered model can make up for the shortfall in revenue and a failure to recruit younger readers. Clearly, something needs to be done – but what?

With all this in mind what can new entrants into the field of freelance journalism do to improve their odds of succeeding. Listen to my discussion below with John to find out.


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