Tag Archives: freelance

How 10 years has changed my freelance work week

How has the past decade of technological and business change in print publishing changed freelance patterns of work?

A lot, as it turns out.

Here, for the sake of example, is a comparison between a representative week’s work for me as a freelance sub/writer in around 1999 and the work I have been doing this summer. In typical nutritional ingredients style, at the top of the list is the stuff I have been doing most of.


  • Sub-editing – often on a full subs’ desk with several people working on it. Reading copy, rewriting copy, proofing pages and arguing over spelling, grammar and punctuation. Oh those glory days…
  • Feature writing – it was the dotcom bubble, but the web hadn’t come to eat into print content yet. So there was a bonanza of paid freelance writing available, at reasonable rates. And commissioned pieces were longer then, too.
  • Print layout and production – monthly magazines, special reports, standalone advertising supplements – again, there was a lot of it about. And it involved scanning pictures, and putting things in envelopes for bike messengers. Weird…


  • Working with a CMS – Tagging online content and helping to create a web taxonomy with keywords. Uploading stories and formatting them. Making sure all the links work and creating the home page. Troubleshooting rogue HTML.
  • Web banner ads – design and animation.
  • Web building – creating sites in WordPress using HTML, CSS and some brutally hacked PHP.
  • Print magazine production – a bit of layout, a bit of styling up, a bit of proofing, a bit of subbing.
  • Blogging – writing online. Obvously.
  • Feature writing – for magazines and books. When anyone has any budget for it.
  • Teaching – blogging, web audio and video

The differences stand out a mile. Much more of my work is online, and much less of it is anything like the kind of journalism/publishing I used to do.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. New and different is interesting, even if many other journalists and print media folk seem terrified of it.

But although it uses some of the skills I had 10 years ago, it has demanded that I develop a whole lot more – and very quickly. Most of this change has only come about in the past year or so.

And, yes – some of this is, for want of a better term, career development. I wouldn’t have found myself teaching journalism students in 1999, that’s for sure.

But you’ll also notice that I’m not now teaching print sub-editing or feature writing to students. I did try to do that – but there’s actually no demand. What academia seems to want now is to beef up its online offering. Much like the rest of the media.

I certainly don’t expect this to end. In fact, I expect the pace of change to pick up. Which means probably yet another and quite different “typical” workweek in fairly short order…



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How to write a good brief for People Per Hour

People_Per_HourI’ve written before about online creative freelance marketplace People Per Hour

I noted that one key problem with the site is the hopelessly inadequate briefs supplied by potential employers.

So, if anyone reading this is thinking about trying to source freelance writing using the site, here’s how to prepare your brief.

It’s clear about what it wants, about how much effort will be required, and about how the budget tallies with the proposal. It’s also literate.

So, come on potential freelance employers, it’s not that hard.

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Four pillars of freelance success, part four

The final part of four pillars of freelance success should be up on FleetStreetBlues today. Normal service on Freelance Unbound should be resumed next week…

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Four pillars of freelance success, part three

Your third pillar of wisdom should be online at the fine FleetStreetBlues today. Meanwhile, I am enjoying art and other fine highbrow things in St Ives…



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Four pillars of freelance success, part two

Still in Cornwall, still minimal internet access. But part two of four pillars of freelance success is over at FleetStreetBlues. Enjoy…


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Four pillars of freelance success

Right now I’m in Cornwall, getting away from journalism, work and, given the lack of reliable internet access where I am, the modern world. 

But just so you don’t feel all neglected, you can pop over to Fleet Street Blues to read a series of guest posts by me. With luck, they should be running through the week – offering a four point guide to freelance success in these tough economic times. 

If I get the chance, I’ll try to hunt down some choice examples of local journalism to post here. Or not – you know how it is…

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The wisdom of crowds

Just because it’s Friday and I’m taking it easy, here’s a link to my newly published feature on prediction markets for Director magazine.

It’s nice that I can start pointing to some reasonably high-profile material on the web in my portfolio. For some reason much of the rest of my work of the past two decades has been buried in trade press supplements – or just buried

It’s an interesting topic – using the wisdom of crowds to make business decisions. Apparently the results are mostly as good as or better than the wisdom of experts. A sobering thought – at least for experts.

Picture 2

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