Resources for freelance journalists: The Freelance Sessions
By Phoebe-Jane Boyd
22 Oct 2020
wanted to create something that would help northerners and working class people
not only break into freelance journalism but flourish in it,’ says
founder Jess Evans of The
experiences with classism while working in the media, Jess knew she had to do
something to help those experiencing similar issues and offer a way in to
freelance journalism for people from all backgrounds. Read on for more on what The
Freelance Sessions can offer as well as what Jess believes are some of the
greatest joys of being a freelancer.
What inspired the launch of The Freelance Sessions?
launched by an explosion of pent-up emotion from certain injustices in how
the field of journalism operates. I’d worked as a journalist for years in
London and had experienced first-hand just how classist and elitist the
industry could be. As a working class Scouser, it was difficult to break in,
and once I was in, I faced a string of classist incidents. I watched the same
happen to other women and men who didn’t talk with a posh accent or a family
holiday home in the country, or went for spontaneous mini breaks at the weekend
just because, who tried to ‘Londondise’ themselves. Journalism was like
a cool posh members club.
Freelance Sessions, I wanted to create something that would help northerners
and working class people not only break into freelance journalism but
flourish in it, despite their background, class, education, accent or
upbringing. So many people who have broken into journalism through The
Freelance Sessions are writing and doing wonderful things in the industry and
it’s encouraging and beautiful to see.
What are the main challenges freelancers in your community are concerned
about at the moment?
obvious one is getting enough writing work and maintaining it. This is one of
the things I’m passionate about that The Freelance Sessions helps with. We put
on affordable practical webinars such as, ‘The best 10 editors to pitch to now
who are currently commissioning and paying’, or it may be helping freelance
journalists shimmy into another area of journalism they haven’t explored
before. That’s one of the greatest joys about being a freelance journo, it’s
that you don’t just have to simply stick to one desk. You can dip into other
areas and write about things that you may not have pitched about before,
whether that’s travel, beauty, sport, film and music. We want to give as many
writers the tools to be able to unlock as many editorial sources of income and
fulfilment as possible.
Quick piece of advice for those who may be struggling with freelance
Take a break, restart, reinvent and do it as many times as you need to.
If the news is getting overwhelming and bringing you down, step away from it.
You don’t need Twitter as much as you think, so if you need a break, just do
it. You also don’t need to be ‘Twitter famous’ as a freelance journalist; don’t
put too much energy into it. Ignore the Twitter journo cliques; it will be
forever exhausting trying to keep up, so instead pour that attention and love
into your own thing. Don’t take yourself too seriously; this will make trolls
comments easier to swallow on articles you write, editor rejections easier to
take on the chin and it’ll stop you from spiralling into the bad place.
Another thing would be, don’t feel like a failed freelance journalist if
you make money in other ways aside from pitching and getting editorial
commissions, whether it’s copywriting, teaching or doing more commercial
writing. It’s not selling out, it’s just being smart. Budgets have been cut and
getting regular commissions at the moment is tough, so go easy on yourself and
don’t fret, doing the other things do not make you any less of a freelance
What’s your favourite thing about freelancing?
Realising you can work four hours in one day and that sometimes that’s
all you need to do. You don’t always need to be working more of a 9-5 structure
and dragging out the day just to think you’re being productive. I have done
some of the best work in my four-hour working days.
It takes a little time to understand what works for you as a freelancer,
but creating your own rules is a creative, liberating and brilliant thing to
do. I think as long as you’re making money and staying true to your vision,
what you’re wearing when you work, what hours you work, where you work and how
many days you have off, it doesn’t actually matter. For years, we’ve been
conditioned to believe if we’re not sat at a desk for ‘x’ amount of hours, then
it’s not a hardworking day, but that isn’t always the case. I also love
collaborating with people I admire in the industry and equally, I like saying
no to people I don’t want to work with.