I’m proud to say that I have managed to build an entire journalism career fully remotely, which is something that my university lecturers never told me was even a possibility.
How did I start my journalism journey?
I can remember sitting in a seminar learning about all the ways I could potentially succeed in journalism and there wasn’t one mention of freelancing or working remotely, which left me assuming that I couldn’t build a career in journalism unless I moved to London or wrote for local press (which just wasn’t something I was interested in).
I honestly didn’t think working remotely as a journalist was even a thing. I assumed that, in order to build a successful journalism career I’d need to be in-house, which thankfully isn’t true. Which is why, when I graduated from my journalism degree, I chose to go into copywriting as there was plentiful remote work available (I’d tried out an office environment as an intern and it just wasn’t for me).
Then, a couple of years later, I met a journalist friend who, it turned out, worked completely remotely as a freelancer. It was this meeting that changed everything for me; I realised I could work as a journalist regardless of where I lived, so I set about starting to build a career in the sector I’d always dreamed I could work in (despite having only a small amount of actual journalism experience, including editing my student newspaper and writing a column for a local paper as a teen).
What were my next steps?
Once I’d realised that I could write from anywhere and that there were all kinds of opportunities available, I started researching.
I began by picking my journalist friend’s brain about how she had got into journalism and how she made remote working a success as a journalist. She explained that she pitched her ideas for stories to editors at various publications (something that was never even mentioned during my degree) and if the editor liked the idea they would commission it for her to write.
Following the realisation that anyone can pitch ideas to editors, I spent the following two years working in a fully freelance capacity, pitching pieces to various publications, from Metro and Refinery 29 to The Mirror and Love Exploring – and everywhere in between.
During this two year period, I joined lots of Facebook groups for freelance journalists, where editors would often put call outs for pitches and writers. I also utilised Twitter and the hashtags #JournoJobs and #JournoRequest to source any potential writing opportunities.
I then began picking up some remote shift work for various publications, including Entertainment Daily, The Express, and Fabulous.
This remote shift work gave me the opportunity to gain a further insight into how a newsroom (albeit it a virtual one) was run, how stories were commissioned to writers on staff, and how fast-paced a newsroom could be. While I enjoyed this type of work, I realised that I was probably better placed to write less newsy content and more lifestyle-based content, which led to landing my first on-going lifestyle writing remote role at The List (a US-based digital lifestyle magazine).
Despite finally being in a journalistic role, I still felt like I didn’t have all of the key tools I needed to excel and take my career to the places that I wanted it to go. So, I started attending journalism workshops and classes (all of which were virtual) to learn more about the different areas of journalism, from how to pitch more successfully to how to specialise in a certain area of journalism, such as beauty and shopping which is where my passions for journalism lay. My favourite workshops were run by Journo Resources – if you’ve not tried out one of their workshops I can highly recommend them.
During this time, I continued pitching to other publications in addition to writing in my ongoing role at The List, while also continuing to source further writing opportuies. I applied for a few different ones (some of which I was unsuccessful at landing), including a role at HuffPost UK which I was over the moon to be offered.
I started out my journalism journey with little information and knowledge (besides my degree) about how to get started as a remote journalist. Now, four years on, I’m working in a full-time role (in a freelance capacity) I love for a publication that I never thought I’d have the opportunity to write for, and I am part of the most amazing (mainly remote) team.
Even though I am extremely happy in the role that I’m in, I still continue to work towards a range of ongoing career goals. I attend regular workshops, have meetings with mentors in different areas of journalism, and consistently attempt to further hone my writing.
What are my top tips for building a remote journalism career?
- Pitch regularly to build up your experience and bylines.
- Invest in your career by undertaking workshops and training sessions
- Connect with other journalists
- Follow editors on social media
- Consistently look for opportunities