Freelance Journalists: Setting Career Goals

The essential element of a freelance journalist, is being a realist. This isn’t a career for the fainthearted. The jobs can be tough, and making a living requires expertise. Freelance journalist do some of the toughest work and knowing how to handle both yourself and situations is the essence of realistic goal setting.

Freelance journalism, however, does have one great strength. It’s a unique opportunity to use your knowledge, like no other form of media can do. Freelance journalists often break news before anyone else, and it’s their information you see on the news and on the front pages.

Goal Setting for Freelance Journalists

You can do freelance journalism at home at your desk, if you’re a really good researcher, but most freelancers spend a lot of time on location. They can work in strange places, and do strange things to get their information. Many freelancers have a big network of sources, and some are approached by sources because of their skills in reporting.

This very broad combination of elements makes goal setting a lot more difficult than in many other professions. The career is based on personal achievement, but also on how well you do these jobs.

The best way to define a goal in this field is to identify aspirations. This can involve some deep thinking. The reason you become a freelance journalist is the major motivational force. Many journalists, for example, specialize in civil rights, politics, women’s affairs, racism or other important social issues. Some are crime specialists, others are business experts. Career goals and personal goals, therefore, are usually very closely related. Whatever your career goal, it needs to be in step with your motivations. You need a goal which supports  and provides incentives in your career.

The Business Career Goal

In fact, to be successful as a freelance journalist, you’re really working on two goals- Your personal goals and the essential business goals which support them. Freelance journalism is a business as much as a profession. You will need business skills and training in this area. This really is hard work, and the added business element is another part of the goal setting process.

This isn’t quite as difficult as it might sound. Some freelancers are syndicated, meaning they work with multiple outlets through an agency agreement, or contract, which provide a good regular income. Most, however, start out slow, submitting articles to publishers for payment. If you’re an expert in a particular field, you have a market for your work built in. A science journalist has a huge range of possible publishers, for example. Sports writers can work in any field, but usually gravitate to their favorites.

A good, viable career goal is both an incentive and a working model of your personal goals as a journalist. Your personal goals and your work are mutually supportive. Professional freelance journalists will tell you there’s nothing they’d rather do. Setting a career goal is essential, get your facts straight and check your sources of information.