Journalism Career Advice (Late Twenties)

Hi ladies, I’m looking to revisit my inner Carrie Bradshaw/Jane Sloan and I’m not sure how to make my first move…

For context, I have a bit of experience already. I trained as a journo in my undergrad and I was a newspaper columnist for 11 years.

I’m late twenties now and have been out of the journalism loop for a couple of years whilst working in tech.

What’s a reasonable first move to make to get back into freelance writing? Are blogs still a thing for journalists? What are editors looking for at the moment?

Appreciate any tips or advice!


I think the first step is to think about what kind of journalist you really want to be: Columnist? Investigative news reporter? Features writer? They’re all so different and in my view, require very different skillsets. I’m not sure blogs are as important as they once were – you could perhaps think of building an online portfolio, but really, I think it’s a question of emailing editorial directors and asking if they’re looking for freelancers – I guarantee more are than you think. Also, let them know you’re around to be holiday cover. At this time of year, so many places are short on the ground.

Try writing up a mock article you think they might be interested in running to prove you have a good handle of the house style (crucial) and can write well (just remember to copyright it with a watermark so editors don’t steal your ideas). I’d personally find this more compelling that just pitching – lots of freelancers email me with the same ideas our team covers week in, week out, so they rarely get picked up – plus, there’s little evidence they understand the SL tone/style. Look closely at what the publication is covering and then think about how you could write something that would add value rather than just repeating the usual beauty/fashion stories.

Finally, attach some examples of your other work so they can see you have experience. You only need one or two people to give you a shot and you’re well on your way. All I’d say is ask around as to who pays freelancers well and on time – I have friends who are waiting for invoices to be paid two years after the work was filed, and that just isn’t a fun way to live if you have financial commitments.


I would sign up to as many freelance newsletters for journalists as possible to see what’s out there. I also know that lots of editors like to be pitched to directly - great once you find your niche and know what you’d like to write about.

I’d recommend Sian Meades-Williams’ book which is a survival guide for all freelance writers!

That’s really useful, Harriet, thanks for such a detailed response. I’d definitely like to go back to column writing and I like to idea of approaching publications with a finished piece (that’s how I landed my first regular column!). Thanks again :slight_smile:

Hi Sherri, thanks for the book recommendation, I hadn’t come across this before and it looks great. I’m going to hunt down some freelance newsletters too. Thanks again, looking forward to hearing you on the podcast!

Thanks, Kerry! Good luck with everything - freelancing can be scary but all my freelance friends say it’s the best decision they ever made!