Navigating the freelance jungle
Tips from veteran freelancer Robert Osborne on selling your stories.
By Ilina Ghosh, for the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre
Freelance journalists must pitch strategically and confidently and be “the raccoon[s] of the journalism world,” veteran freelancer Robert Osborne told students at a recent workshop organized by the Ryerson Journalism Research Centre.
Osborne’s workshop, which focused on selling stories and maximizing the return on work, took students through the freelance process, drawing on lessons he learned over his 14 years as a freelance journalist and producer. Building a diverse set of skills and performing under a diverse set of conditions is critical to freelance success, he said.
“You’ve got to be the raccoon of the journalism world, where you can eat anything, go anywhere, do anything…to thrive.”
Osborne, who is also an instructor at Ryerson’s School of Journalism, emphasized the need to find a fitting client for a pitch. Be a “heat-seeking missile” when targeting news outlets, he said.
“You can have the best story idea in the world but if you take it to the wrong place, you are going to get a lot of no’s.”
Pitching to the correct outlet is all about research, Osborne said.
“You’d be surprised at how many people will pitch perfectly good ideas to the wrong venue…So the first thing you have to do is read the magazine, watch the darn show, research their webpage, really take some time to think what kind of product are they looking for.”