There’s certainly no shortage of freelance writers in the world right now. If you consider yourself a writer, I’ m sure you know this. And because there are writing jobs out there right now, along with that comes an abundance of crap jobs that offer $1 per blog post, or some such nonsense. If you’re taking those jobs, listen up– there’s a better way.
Freelance writers who are trying to build a portfolio sometimes turn to local newspapers for clips. Sometimes those papers pay (like the ones I wrote for), though not much. What you’re really getting out of clip-building with smaller papers is experience and, well… clips.
The biggest problem I had with the local paper was the lack of an internet presence. They hardly ever updated their website, and the news on it just wasn’t current.
Enter Patch.com. In an attempt to supplement my newspaper writing last spring, I took on freelance work with Patch.com. They had just started in Rhode Island and my summer work with them had me visiting local businesses, collecting information, and writing free listings for those businesses. It wasn’t awesome work (my skin isn’t thick enough for some of the rude people I had to deal with, honestly), but it paid well and gave me some writing experience in a new arena.
Then Patch spread to the town in which I grew up and also to my current town in Rhode Island. Both of those Patch sites went live today and I’ve got two columns and a story on one site, and an article on the other. This is great because now my clips are actually online. I can link to them in my portfolio on my website and show potential clients what my work looks like. No more pdf-ing, resizing, uploading, getting confused with GoDaddy’s uploader, etc.
I’ve heard some criticism about Patch, but I think that’s because of AOL’s other venture, Seed. I don’t know much about Seed, but Patch.com is a good thing for freelance writers. And I’ll tell you why (you asked, right?)
- The pay is good. Compared to what you will likely make per article at a local paper, freelancers can make anywhere from $50-$200 per article depending on the piece. That’s decent pay for someone who may have been building news clips with a paper for peanuts, or even for free.
- Patch.com loves freelancers. Freelancers are, in part, what make Patch function (aside from the editor of each town’s page. Those people work harder than I can even explain!) Each Patch.com page needs a team of freelancers out and about in the community writing stories. And so far, I’ve gotten the sense that my services are very much appreciated.
- You can do it on the side. This is true for a lot of freelance gigs, though. Do it on the side of your full-time job to supplement your income, or use it as a springboard into other work.
- It’s local, and it’s green. You’re covering news in your town, which means you aren’t traveling all over kingdom come to get a story. And since it’s a green initiative, you aren’t printing pages of paper to send to an editor or wasting ink. In fact, you don’t even need to get the newspaper for this. It’s all online.
So, if you’re a freelance writer looking for work or trying to build clips for your portfolio, see if Patch.com is in your area yet. It’s spreading across the country like they told us the bird flu would, so get on board if you can. And share with me your experiences as a freelance writer either working for small papers or online papers. What are your thoughts on the whole Patch.com thing?
Shameless plugs (because I’m really proud of my work and our editor’s hard work getting us to the launch date!)