The State of Freelancing: Why 33% of Journalists & Creative Workers are Now Independents – And May Grow to As Many as 50%

The State of Jobs for Journalism Professionals

I recently started getting very active on LinkedIn. I’ve had an account on the site for a few years, but haven’t really interacted there – until recently. One day as I was doing my daily updates, I ran across a very interesting post that talked specifically about freelancing – as it relates to writers.

The post, entitled “Half Of Us May Soon Be Freelancers: 6 Compelling Reasons Why,” by Shane Snow – who co-founded Contently and went to Columbia’s School of Journalism – gives a very sobering look at what’s been happening in this career for quite a few years now.

Journalism Jobs Have Been Disappearing for a While

In fact, on this site back in 2009 in the post, Want a Freelance Writing Career? Here’s How to Achieve That Dream This Coming Year, I quoted a stat about how journalism jobs were disappearing at an alarming rate, writing:

The State of Jobs for Journalism Professionals . . . the powerful forces of the global economic meltdown, plummeting advertising costs, and the shift of readers from print to the web would force seismic changes on traditional media. . . .

Paper Cuts, an online site, that tracks layoffs at newspapers and magazines says more than 14,500 journalists have been laid-off or bought out this year.  [Source: HighTalk.net, The Great Media Collapse of 2009: Part 2]

So this has been going on for a while.

In Mr. Snow’s article, he outlines the reasons behind why – if current trends continue – as many as half of journalism professionals may be freelancers. One that stood out to me is the ability to find talent anywhere, at any time. To this point, he wrote:

The web lets you find the best person to do anything anywhere.

Would you rather work with someone awesome or someone mediocre? Companies used to not have a choice, if the awesome person lived 3,000 miles away. Now they do.

(One of the use cases we originally started Contently for was to allow The New York Times—or whoever—to not have to fly a reporter to Alaska for a story, but instead find a qualified freelancer who already lived there. Saves money, plus a little carbon!)

I owned an editorial staffing agency in New York City from 1996 through 2004, and let me tell ya, finding qualified talent is one of the hardest things to do (Snow addresses this point in his article too). And if a company can find it – where they need it – without having to shell out extra for it, then that’s hiring utopia!

And, you’re not saddled with all the expenses that come with an employee (eg, medical benefits, vacation and sick days, 401K benefits, unemployment insurance, etc.)

And that’s why I say that it’s highly unlikely that this freelancing trend is going to be reversed. Hiring freelancers works for the wallet of corporate America. Hence, it’s here to stay, in my opinion.

Freelancing Spells Opportunity, or Dread, for Journalism Professionals: Which One Depends on You

This can be a blessing or a curse – it all depends on if you’re prepared to take advantage of it.

In my opinion, creative professionals like writers need to embrace the changes that are coming down the pike these days, partly because you have little choice in the matter.

Since I started writing this State of Freelancing column back in June, one of the things I’ve come to realize is that technology has ushered in a new way of doing business. I’ve been a freelancer since 1993; full-time since 2007 – and even I wasn’t aware (until I started writing this weekly column) of just how much the world’s economy relies on freelancers, especially within certain professions (eg, writers, web designers, programmers).

Snow sums up his article by saying:

Freelancers are de-facto entrepreneurs, which means all of us need to learn to think and act like startups. . . . [it] requires an additional skill set they didn’t teach a lot of us in school. And for many, it’s soon going to be the only option.

Are you as prepared as you need to be?

Something to think about. I’d love to know your thoughts. Please share in the comments section below.

Coming Features on InkwellEditorial.com

Tomorrow: Stay tuned for a monster list of freelance writing job leads.

Tuesday: A must-read post on how to land high-paying freelance writing jobs from B2B clients (Regular contributor Tiffany gives what amounts to a tutorial on how to break into this profitable market).

Wednesday: Article Marketing Post-Penguin 2.0 — Is It Still Effective? The Answer May Surprise You (an in-depth post by moi; lots has changed since Penguin hit in May, causing me to rethink, revamp and revise how I go about this form of online marketing — which has been so good for my business over the years. I lay it all out in a two-part series starting Wednesday).

As you can see, there’s lots to hang around for here — hope you’ll come on back! 🙂

Share a Freelance News Tip

See an interesting story in the news about freelancing? Send it to us via the Contact link on every page of this site, or in an email to info**at**InkwellEditorial.com. We’re always looking for insightful stories from freelancers that can help others.

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    1. Yuwanda, perfect timing on the thoughts about article marketing. I’m new to your site and I’ve been trying to find out what you think about it post-Panda. Thanks!
      Chiara recently posted…How to Risk $500, Make a Fool of Yourself, and Come Out a Better PersonMy Profile

      • Thanks Chiara (pretty name!) for being a loyal follower.

        And yeah, this has been a post I’ve been meaning to get to for the last couple of months, so I’ll be glad to finally get it out there. It might shock you! Stay tuned, and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

        I’m rushing off to brunch with a friend. Mimosa and Sangria, here I come! 🙂


    1. […] Editor Note: Did you catch yesterday’s post on Why 33% of Journalists & Creative Workers are Now Independents – And May Grow to As Many as 50…. It underscores why it’s a great time to be a freelance writer and why there’s so much […]