Behind the scenes of Freelancing with Tim

'FWT basically has one goal: to demystify the world of freelance journalism.'

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Tim Herrera, who publishes the Freelancing with Tim newsletter, has more than a decade of experience in journalism working at The New York Times, The Washington Post and amNewYork.

His newsletter editions about different publication’s freelance rates, “how to get on an editor’s ‘regulars’ roster” and answers to some common questions about pitching editors were among the readings you all were most excited about last year.

This week I emailed Tim several questions about the community he’s creating with his emails and regular Zoom panels featuring seasoned journalists. Check out his excellent advice and sign up for FWT if you haven’t already!

What will subscribers to Freelancing With Tim find in your newsletter? 

FWT basically has one goal: to demystify the world of freelance journalism. Journalism in general is unbelievably and unfairly opaque, particularly for freelancers, so at the core of everything I’m doing is an effort to make the entire process, beginning to end, less confusing and more inviting. The pandemic has made it harder than ever to make it as a freelancer, and I want to make it a little easier.

What made you want to start this resource for writers and journalists? 

When I was the editor of NYT’s Smarter Living, I relied for five years primarily on the work of freelance journalists. Over those years, I picked up so much knowledge about what works and what doesn’t, and it felt unfair not to do everything I could to freely spread that knowledge and make journalism easier, and better, for anyone who wants to write. I know that’s kind of dorky and super-earnest, but it’s true! That insight was just sitting wasted in my stupid brain, so putting it on the internet just felt right.

What are some of your go-to resources for career and writing advice? 

I love Poynter and Nieman Lab; those are both places I’ve read religiously for a decade. But I’ll give a very squishy but IMO far more helpful answer: editors and journalists on Twitter. In my 11 years in the industry, I’ve never seen veterans more freely and eagerly offer advice on Twitter about the industry than in the past year.

So here’s what I tell literally every freelancer who asks this question: Find editors and writers who work at publications you want to write for, and just follow them on Twitter. I cannot tell you how many journalists I’ve seen tweet huge threads full of writing advice, career advice, freelancing advice and more. It takes a little legwork to find it, but honestly, I think in 2021 the best journalism advice being written is in tweets.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who wants to try freelancing?

Don’t let a lack of experience, or a lack of the “right” clips, intimidate you out of pitching your dream publication. When it comes down to it, a huge part of an editor’s job is to buy great stories. And a lot of the time, those great stories come from freelancers who don’t have a lot of experience/a lot of clips/the “right” clips/whatever it may be. But good editors will take a chance on a great story even if it comes from someone just starting out. So pitch your dream publications! The worst thing that can happen is they’ll say no, so you honestly have nothing to lose.

Did somebody say walk? - Sam

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