Today’s post is geared towards independent writers and reporters interested in freelancing. But this advice should still pique
your interest even if it’s beyond this specific niche.
I talked with Joanne Cleaver, an author and communication consultant who recently wrote the “The Career Lattice.” Her book helps people understand how lateral moves can advance their careers. Joanne knows the freelance world: She started freelancing in 1981 and is currently director of freelance growth for Ebyline.com. She was a huge help when I ventured into the freelance world full time six years ago.
Joanne says freelancers need to think broadly about the topics they cover. “Journalists tend to think too narrowly,” Joanne says. “You have to make opportunities because they are rarely packaged and delivered out of the blue.”
For example, covering healthcare doesn’t mean limiting yourself to trends and policy, she says. You also can write about consumer topics like nutrition tips. Reporters still in the newsroom need to determine how to broaden their beats so there is no conflict of interest.
“Doing this will give you an additional perspective on what you can cover,” she says. “It helps you broaden your portfolio and shows you’re adaptable.”
Joanne told me the story of a friend who expanded her business by redefining how she covered food. She was solely writing about restaurants and food service for trade publications, Joanne says. Then, she began writing about food trends and nutrition for consumer publications. For one client, she added recipes and photos to her nutrition stories, tapping the restaurant sources she’d already built.
Joanne’s book also can help reporters looking to move into the corporate world. She suggests reporters look for temporary business-side opportunities that won’t preclude them from moving back into the newsroom.
She also suggests separating job skills from the beat you’ve covered. For instance, managing a project shows how you can manage workflow. “It will give you an additional perspective on opportunities you can pursue,” she says.