It’s seriously tempting as a journalist these days to take the low road when it comes to finding work. But if you calculate the time and energy it takes to search for freelance work, you’re better off getting really good at being a journalist.
The trick of dressing up hack journalism with the title of “content producer” is a great example. These are the so-called jobs that want someone to crank out anywhere from 3-30 articles a week for publication online. The first clue that this is NOT journalism is the part of the job description that notes you must have SEO keyword knowledge. I don’t know what the name for this kind of writing is, but it sure isn’t journalism. In fact, I think it is at odds with journalism.
I’ve come to realize that when it comes to being a journalist, I’m a purist. I’ve had those points in my career where I was an “editor” for some “content” project that paid pretty well. At the time, it was a great way to get cash for equipment I needed–a new laptop, a DSLR camera and lens, a recorder, et cetera. But at the end of the day, wherever you put your time and energy and effort is where you are going to see results.
Instead of wasting your most precious resource–your time–on searching for freelance/telecommute jobs that are vaguely related to being a journalist, spend that time working on pitches and story ideas.
Write your ideas down, let them ruminate in the back of your head. Try writing pitches and sending them out. I guarantee you will see where the holes are and what you need to work on. And I guarantee that if you’re serious about getting your pitch perfect and are passionate about the story (why bother choosing topics that you are lukewarm about?), you will get an assignment. Just keep at it–and say “no” to being a content producer. You won’t be sorry.