How To Become A Freelance Writer For A Newspaper In 4 Simple Steps


Traditionally, newspapers were one of the few locations that hired freelance writers. Over the last few years, newspapers have consistently lost their market share against online media. Due to this, the number of new journalists hired every year has decreased. With many students still choosing to major in journalism, the competition in this industry is fierce. To get a job with a newspaper, writers should use the following four simple steps.

  • Start Small
  • Very few writers walk into a job at the New York Times. A large, prestigious newspaper is unlikely to hire writers who lack experience. Instead of trying to write for the big newspapers, writers should start small. Local newspapers, trade publications and small magazines are a great place to gain experience. Writers can develop a brand and a good portfolio through one of these smaller locations. Once the writer is ready, they can use these experiences to go after the larger companies.

  • Research the Marketplace
  • Freelance writing is basically another type of business. Like any company, writers must do their research about the market. They need to know what the going rate is for a project and the writing style accepted by each organization. Once the writer has found several newspapers that they want to work for, they should see the type of work that they accept and the normal length of each article. Most importantly, writers need to find out if the newspaper will accept freelance writers onto their payroll.

  • Make a Pitch
  • The pitch is the main way for the writer to get hired by editors. It must be interesting and unique. Since editors are generally low on time, the writer should focus on the specifics and avoid overloading their pitch with unimportant information. They should include the headline, a summary paragraph and a few lines about the writer's background. Afterward, the writer should wait a week before following up. If the editor does not like the pitch, the writer should not take it personally. Like most readers, the editor has certain types of articles that they enjoy reading. Even if the editor rejects the pitch, it does not mean that the pitch was a bad one.

  • Timing
  • It can take six months for some publications to publish an article after it has been pitched. For traditional topics like holiday gift buying, writers should send in their pitch months ahead of time. With urgent topics, journalists should send in the pitch as soon as possible. The editor needs to get the pitch as soon as possible so that they have plenty of time to verify the facts before publishing it.

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