The Business of Freelancing: thoughts on the Walkey Foundation’s 2012 freelance conference

It’s taken me a couple of weeks to digest but since attending the Walkey Foundation’s 2012 freelance conference at the Wheeler Centre (March 30-31) a few choice dishes have stayed with me:

  1. Organise your time better if you want to make a living
  2. Turn yourself into an online “brand” and
  3.  Beyond points 1 and 2, no one (really) knows what the **** they’re doing
Russell Skelton, the Alliance chairman (whose name escapes me for the moment), John Silvester and Jeff Sparrow musing on how to write (and publish) a “bestseller.”

The big takeaway point for me was a reaffirmation that the media industry (and by extention the freelance industry) is still in real flux. Who is a journalist, these days? asked Margaret Simons, citing Julian Assange and Wikileaks as the leading game-changer for our notions of who can be a journalist these days.

Changes in technology are also giving people the tools to publish their own news but, she says, there is still an enduring role for journos who can pick up the phone and ask the “hard questions.” She also advocated:

  • the importance of multimedia skills
  • writing tight copy
  • owning your online brand (so you can keep your readers no matter who you work for, eg George Megalogenis and Mia Freeman)
  • think of twitter as your personal news service (1000 followers is the equivalent of a small regional newspaper)
  • being recognised as a specialist in a field but not losing your ability to be a generalist (for variety and $$)
  • “If you do journalism of integrity you should have an open mind about where it gets published,” so look beyond (declining) mainstream media outlets to pitch stories to
  • and finally, don’t underestimate the changes that are hapening in the media scene right now. There are more niche publications, audiences are shrinking (so a 50,000 readership is now somewhere around 10,000) but those readers are more engaged than ever.

Checking through my notebook there are plenty of other useful tips on getting the most out of google searches, taking advantage of the Copyright Agency Limited’s “Creative Industries Career Fund,” (and using the CAL “reuse” button on your published stories to help generate copyright royalties) and some great digital photography skillz from Rodney Dekker.

I also met some nice people, including transmedia producer Tali Crispi (who took these funny pics of me below in our digital stills training session) and talented cartoonist Jack Chadwick. All in all, a stimulating couple of days!

That’s me! Photography by Tali Craspi, from our digital stills class with Joseph and Rodney
Man in hat. Photography by Tali Craspi. She used a Canon ef 50mm f/1.8 camera lens, relatively cheap at between $100-$150, depending where you find it…