Useful tips for new freelance journalists

New to freelance journalism? Take a note of these useful tips from your colleagues, many drawn from hard experience …

  • Do look carefully at your contract, and run it by a lawyer if you have concerns about points such as remuneration, bonuses/incentives, holidays and non-compete clauses.
  • Do clarify whether your contract is a ‘service provider’ contract or an ‘employment’ contract. If it is a service-provider contract, then behave as a service provider (i.e. your time commitment needs to be negotiated and agreements as to what events you attend, etc., need to be agreed. It is not an employee/employer relationship).
  • Do send your invoice to the right person and state a 30-day payment period on the invoice. Then make sure that you chase the invoice (if possible, encourage your client to have a facility where they can receive your invoice by email and can notify you on receipt when it will be paid).
  • Do look into the tax situation of new work, i.e. in which country will you pay the tax (should you be paying in that country or another?). You can also check where the company you will work for is based, plus if there is an official set of accounts (to check on its financial health).
  • Do set aside the time to do this administrative work.
  • Do make sure you get an order (bon de commande) from your client rather than rely on email confirmation. It can happen that work done that is based on an email brief is not published on the grounds of lack of space. Remember that you are entitled to payment on the basis of the work that you deliver, not on whether it is published or not.
  • If travel is required for any job, do get specific confirmation and specific agreement to pay for any travel tickets in advance.
  • Do get your client to provide you with as clear and detailed a brief as possible. Also make specific provision for when any rewrites may be required. Will time spent on these rewrites earn additional fees? Or have you negotiated a fee to include, say, second or third drafts?

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