How To Make Money As A Freelance Journalist

The journalism industry is dramatically transforming both in the newsroom and in the boardroom. Over the years, the way journalists report the news has changed and the newspaper business has finally started to adapt to the changing times, whether it’s pay walls, cutting back on its workforce or offering real-time updates to important news stories.

It has become a common trend in recent years for print and online news outlets to use freelance journalists and photographers to cover the news because of budget restraints, or not having enough staffers to report on a small media event or press conference. This is certainly where freelancers who want to make a name for themselves as journalists can step in.

Due to advancements in technology, freelance journalists have a wide variety of avenues to choose from to earn a decent living as a journalist, and it doesn’t always have to require wearing down the “shoeleather.”

Here are some ways as to how a freelance journalist can make money today:


Before you start to initiate your journalistic endeavors, think about what areas you want to cover. Besides covering political and entertainment matters (two of the most popular topics), there are a wide variety of subjects that still need to be reported on: economics, finance, science, business, art and so on. Establish a specialty and then become the next Woodward or Bernstein.

Throwing a Pitch

Have a great idea for a news story? Do you have a scoop from a reliable source? Well, you can always pitch your local newspaper, or an online national journal with a news story that their staff hasn’t thought of or were unaware. This is an old-fashioned way for prospective journalists to get their foot in the door with a media venue.

Be sure to have the five Ws ahead of your pitch (who, what, where, when and why) and remain as confident as possible.


Establish your own brand by signing up for different websites (Digital Journal, Examiner, Guardian Liberty Voice and others) or by launching your own professional news website. Create a press badge, grab your digital voice recorder, get a good camera and attend some media events, scrums, or demonstrations, interview noteworthy individuals and start writing.

Although these websites mostly offer advertising revenue, a story might go viral and you can begin to earn passive income at the beginning. As long as you produce quality work then it’ll only be a matter of time until you’ll be known as a professional journalist and begin to get job offers or can work for more respected publications.


Do you have a HD camera? This might be your ticket to earning decent cash by attending press conferences, protests and other newsworthy events and filming them. More people are turning to YouTube to watch the news and if you grab good footage that no other journal was able to capture then it could be cited by major media outlets, which would then lead to incredible viewership.


20 percent discount
20 percent discount

Similar to YouTube, if you snap some good shots of politicians, celebrities, demonstrations or other kinds of events then there is a good chance other publishers will notice and you can sell these images for the market price (varies by nation and industry). Post some examples on your portfolio page and potential businesses, political campaigns and websites will take notice.

Resources for Freelancers

A journalist doesn’t always have to hit the pavement. Instead, a journalist can provide in-depth analysis, interview subjects over the phone, Skype or email or live-tweet an event that is being broadcast online. To find these jobs, prospective clients will post job advertisements on Elance, oDesk, Freelancer and other websites – Craig’s List and Kijiji can also sometimes be dependable outlets.

Behind the Scenes

A journalist reporter has been listed repeatedly as one of the worst careers to enter in the future. The 10-year growth projection is estimated to be around negative seven to 10 percent, which is certainly a bleak figure for aspiring reporters.

But a journalist doesn’t always have to be producing news. Instead, a talented reporter can work behind the scenes by writing press releases, news summaries, newsletters, marketing copy, ghostwriting and a number of other writing or editing tasks.

Are you a freelance journalist? Tell us how you earn a living in this tough business in the comment section.


Photo by: Andrew Moran | Press scrum with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne


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