Freelance Writers – Working outside the mainstream to earn big(ger)

In the latest in our series of blog posts by CommsDirect speakers, Fran Molloy- free lance journalist since 1999 – writes about freelancing as a double-edged sword and that to be a successful freelancer, you must have a plan that sources income beyond mainstream media.

For most journalists who become freelance writers, freelancing is a double-edged sword. The freedom is glorious, but financial insecurity can sour the whole deal.

Freelancing is definitely not for everyone. Plenty of people have a go at freelancing for a few months or even a few years; but breathe a sigh of relief when they return to the security of a traditional job.

But ‘traditional jobs’ no longer offer the security they once did; Australian newspapers continue to lose circulation and shed staff, with over 1,000 journalists made redundant in 2012.

Freelancing is on the rise, and for professionals who treat it as a career rather than another word for job-hunting, it can deliver at least a passable income.

The annual Rachel’s List ‘Show Me The Money’ survey demonstrates that, while most freelancers earn around $30K to $50K a year, there’s a minority (around 7 percent in 2013) who earn upwards of $90K a year.

Unfortunately, while some of the best, most courageous journalism around is produced by dedicated freelance journalists (as the Walkley ‘Freelance Journalist of the Year’ Award entries demonstrate so well), newspapers and magazines do not typically pay their freelancers well. Freelance rates have barely risen in ten years – and it’s far more difficult to recover expenses.

If you want to be a long-term freelancer but still hope to support a family, save for retirement and eventually move out of a garret, these days you need to have a plan that sources income beyond mainstream media.

Most freelancers who are earning a decent income from their writing don’t solely write for major publishers; they have tapped into the corporate market and are using their journalistic skills to deliver succinct, readable, accurate and well-researched writing to niche audiences that will pay excellent rates for quality work.

At CommsDirect, journalist-turned-content agency director Lauren Quaintance, custom publishing guru Bobbi Mahlab and corporate freelancer Nigel Bowen will share their considerable industry insights on the world of corporate journalism, and explain how writers can improve their rates by targeting well-heeled corporate audiences.

The panel will discuss what corporates are looking for; how journalists can move into branded content, and what the key differences are between writing journalism and writing journalistically for brands.

We can’t promise you’ll double your income – that’s up to you – but we can promise you’ll get the chance to hear the inside story from people who work in corporate and brand journalism daily.


Fran MolloyFran Molloy has been a freelance journalist since 1999, writing for various publications including the SMH, ABC and major magazines as well as lots of corporate and trade media. She’s the founder of Freeline, the Australian freelance journalists’ online network.

Fran will be speaking at Comms Direct on August 7 on the “How To Double Your Income” panel.
Tickets are just $395 for those working in media or the not-for-profit sector and $495 for corporate: $100 off the regular price!