As well as being an all-round legend, Laura Miller is what I would describe as a
‘real journalist’. Unlike me, Laura studied a hardcore master’s degree in journalism. And she grew her career writing for extremely impressive news outlets. She’s reported for CNN, the Financial Times, The Telegraph, ITN, and The Times. Laura is so seriously impressive it hurts. Her CV is like my career bucket list.
Over a year ago, Laura bit the bullet and became fully freelance. She writes up a storm for a blizzard of clients, and she’s absolutely smashing it. I asked her to spill her secrets of success…
Here’s Laura’s top four tips and survival guide for being an epic freelance journalist:
1. Be your own PR
“I use work milestones, like posting on LinkedIn about hitting send on my 500th invoice, as an opportunity to remind people I exist and am successfully working should they need my services.
Going solo means pushing yourself out there like a shameless hussy, but I try to do it in a way that is useful to other people ('here's what I've learned from this that may help you too'), though sometimes it is just a case of me posting about an event I hosted or article I wrote, that's fine too for LinkedIn/Twitter”.
2. Cold pitching is very hard, even as an experienced pitcher
“Don't be deterred, hone your ideas, try to make them stand out, something will stick eventually. Keep pitches short -- 2 paragraphs and some bullet points max.
Think hard about the readership of the specific section of the publication you're pitching and what would be useful to them. What is the news hook?
Think of your pitch as sending a solution to the editor to a problem their readers have. Put PITCH: <insert headline> in the email subject line”.
3. Become a Yes Person (almost)
“Terrified I would have no work (and so no income) I was extremely reluctant to turn down any offers in my first year. In my first month freelancing I did news shifts, editing shifts, wrote features, went out on reporting assignments, wrote blogs, hosted panels, bashed the phones trying to get people to an event, and spoke at a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference.
You have transferable skills in communication, be confident in them. As time has gone on, I've become more discerning if what I take on because I can afford to. You will too”.
4. Clients will come and go…
“I've had editors ghost me, and clients suddenly disappear on me after no complaints and working with them for three years when new management came in. I've also had a client who didn't like my prices tell me after a trial "I would have expected better than that for the money" to knock my fee down (needless to say I didn't pursue that relationship). Try not to take it personally, it happens.
View it as an opportunity to find an even better paying / more appreciative client”.
Thank you Laura! 🙏
Laura Miller is a bit of an icon in the financial journalism industry – and a very busy one! I’d like to say a massive thank you to her for taking the time to share these sage words.