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What type of freelancer are you?

What type of freelancer are you?

If you want to build your career and flourish as a freelance journalist, you need to look at it – and yourself – as a business, and grow your professional skills alongside your creative and technical abilities.

This resource can help you to build business skills, but first take some time to reflect on your own situation, experience and journalistic interests. What sort of freelance journalist are you, and how would you like your career to develop?  

Think about your strengths and expertise – your unique knowledge and/or first-hand experience.  How can you use these to find opportunities and work the market?

Take time to do your research and get to know all of the markets available to you, especially the western media market – it is huge, with many specialist outlets and publications that may well be looking for your unique expertise and access to a story.

By knowing yourself and the journalist you want to be, you will be better able to market yourself and access opportunities that will help your business flourish.

The following questions can help you assess where you are with your career and how you see it developing, followed by suggestions on how this resource can help you:

1. What's your experience level?

a) I'm just starting as a freelancer, looking to begin on the right foot
b) I've been freelancing since the Libyan uprising in 2011, and want to make the most of my work
c) I'm an experienced independent journalist, looking the hone my professional skills

If you’re new to freelancing, you might want to start by mapping out your client landscape. As a more experienced journalist, there are always improvements you can make to your pitching techniques. If you’re getting enough commissions, are you making sure that you’re getting paid fairly for them and negotiating properly from the field? 

2. What's your medium?

a) I'm a fixer for international journalists, but I'm also developing skills as a reporter
b) I'm a photojournalist first and foremost
c) I'm a Libyan correspondent for American media
d) I make in-depth documentaries and shoot footage as well

If you’re looking for sources of funding to develop your skills as a journalist, our professional development resources can help. Websites such as IJNet can also be helpful in identifying sources of funding for individuals and projects, and make sure you keep an eye out for workshops with Deutsche Welle, IWPR and BBC el Kul. If you want to know how to build stronger networks between other photographers, or share information between fixers, you’ll also find this chapter useful.

3. What do you cover?

a) Breaking news – I'm on the frontlines, often at high-risk
b) Current affairs, providing in-depth analysis on political and economic developments
c) Humanitarian issues
d) All of the above and more 

This resource is suitable for all types of journalist, whatever your skillset. Of course, every journalist's safety concerns are different, but the process of creating your risk assessment is the same. See our chapter on this.

4. Who do you work for?

a) I work for international press using my English skills
b) I work for local and regional outlets, mostly in Arabic
c) I work for local and international media

Learning skills to improve your client relationships (wherever they are based) is the foundation of any solid freelance career. Get started here.

5. How do you picture your future as a freelancer?

a) Writing features under my own byline for international media
b) Move into more consistent employment rather than sporadic fixing
c) Publishing an average of ten assignments a month

Whoever you are working for, proving that you can deliver stories safely will mean that editors are more likely to commission your future work. Making sure that you’re making considered ethical decisions isn’t just good for your future, it’s good for the entire freelance community – and Libya too. Take a look at our section on Safety and Ethics on Assignment.

This resource contains the tools to help you become a safe, professional freelance journalist who can provide independent reporting on Libya. Fnd out why independence is so important, and some steps you can take to protect it, in the next chapter.

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