Journalist Raymond Joseph shares his top tips for surviving as a freelance journalist.

Veteran journalist Raymond Joseph, a South African freelancer, shared his 24 tips on surviving the world of freelancing at the 2018 African Investigative Journalist Conference (AIJC) on Wednesday, October 31, at Wits University.

1. Have many skills and not just one

Writing, take photographs, make video and do everything in-between.

2. Have a method of saving

Set up a way of saving money so that when December comes you are comfy.

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3. Attend any training available

Look for opportunities and continuously reinvent.

4. Always try out new tools

Keep trying out new tools, never pay for them and if they don’t work, move on.

5. Invest in a good quality phone that can take videos and pictures

6. If possible, get a contract

Always talk money and send an email to capture the discussion if there is no contract.

7. Make folders on your email to keep track of everything

It’s a good trick for organisation and it will be easy to search back in the future.

8. Once you’ve done the job and delivered, send an invoice


9. Get to know people outside the news desk

Make friends with someone who is not the news editor, like people in the accounts department who are key people to know.

10. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a job

11. Always meet deadlines

If you are not going to meet your deadline, let your editor know in advance and not on the day.

12. Pitch something they couldn’t have done themselves

13. Work out what rate you should be getting

14. Try not to work from home

15. Find people you trust to bounce ideas off

16. Keep Notebooks

Write story names on the inside of the cover to locate story-specific notes.

17. Keep a spreadsheet of all the work done

Do this on Excel and write the job name, date, commissioned by, pay, tax, number of person the word was done for.


18. Keep the slip for everything that is an expense for tax

19. Build a good rapport

Your reputation is your greatest asset.

20. Apply for reporting grants

Read the conditions of the grant and meet all the requirements.

21. One story = many sales

One can produce many stories from one event based on different angles.

22. Negotiate your copyright

23. It’s all about contacts

Build contacts up as much as you can.

24. Always give a helping hand where you see fit

When seeing a young journalist on the field always remember that you were young once.