Does anyone know how a freelance journalist is actually defined? For example, can I call myself a freelance journalist because I write for an array of different websites, e-zines and publications with no exclusive commitment to one? Or do I have to wait until I am actually paid to label myself a “freelancer?” I’m not one to discuss or brag about money, but for my current writing commitments, I am earning €0.00 per word, per anything actually. It’s all for experience. Now I know that’s priceless and I keep telling myself that writing for free now will “build my portfolio, expand my network and strengthen my journalistic skills”. Basically, I’m hoping it’ll lead me to a paid journalism job with at least half the stress looking for paid work now is giving me. Plus, if any other journalists are reading this I think you’ll agree, it’s SLIGHTLY addictive, just a tad. Or a lot.
So tell me, am I a freelance journalist? Since you can’t answer me while I type, let’s turn to the dictionary, one of my favourite teachers. I found a few definitions of a freelance or freelancer from the free online dictionary, yourdictionary.com, and my own Collins dictionary:
- A person who sells services to employers without a long-term commitment to any of them.
- A writer, musician, artist, etc. who is not under contract for regular work but whose writings or services are sold to individual buyers.
- Self employed person.
A person who sells. Self employed. Individual buyers. These all scream money to me, maybe I’m crazy. Selling and buying always include money, or at least some form of payment. Last time I checked, employment involved working in exchange for money. So I am asking the unemployed journalists of the world: Do you consider yourselves freelance journalists if you don’t receive payment? Should I call myself a freelancer if I have contributed to a number of different publications in exchange for my salary as stated above?
Again, let the record show that I am not complaining about my situation, I believe I’m very lucky with the experience I have had and the portfolio I have built in just one year. On the other hand, if anyone is offering payment for a journalist, I am available. Seriously though, can I call myself a freelance journalist when I have never been paid to be a freelance journalist? Is it too soon to start buying free business cards? There’s that word “buy” again when I actually followed it with “free.” Perhaps I just answered my own question. Or that’s just wrong because, of course, you can’t “buy” free anything.
By the way, to finish with a shameless plug about myself, for anyone sitting around on Tuesday afternoon at 1:30 (GMT) I’ll be on Dublin City FM. 🙂