The insider’s guide to freelance writing

IMAG0380_1I wasn’t expecting to learn about meth labs when I signed up for the Australian Writers’ Centre course ‘Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1′ but it was just one of the interesting war stories shared by experienced freelance writers Claire Halliday and Valerie Khoo over the weekend. The dynamic duo told tales of broken micro cassettes, rude celebrities, and dodgy editors. They gave some great insights into the writing process as well as practical tips for making freelance writing a viable career.

The course was held at the Abbotsford Convent in the midst of cafe-goers, a wedding, a photography course, families celebrating mother’s day, and a large group of vespa riders (cue the photo). Half of Melbourne seemed to be gathered there enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.

Our group of around a dozen students got an insider’s guide on how to; come up with ideas for features, structure a feature article, analyse a publication, interview a subject, approach people for information, pitch to editors, and negotiate fair rates for your work.

We each interviewed a class mate, wrote a profile on them and got feedback on our writing. This was one of the highlights of the course. The exercise was a great opportunity to apply what we had learnt as well as getting to know each other better.  

The course gave me increased confidence in my freelance writing. I feel motivated and now have practical strategies to ramp up my writing. I left the course with several ideas I could pitch to editors for feature articles. It gave me a much better sense of what makes a high quality and engaging feature article.

The take away message from the course for me was that success in feature writing depends on building good relationships with editors (and being a decent writer).

If you want to explore feature writing as a hobby or career, it is definitely worth checking out this course.

ANZ 23 mobile things

ANZ 23 mobile things logo

ANZ 23 mobile things logo

Social media is a powerful platform for connecting. It creates opportunities to reach outside of organisational hierarchies. It busts open geographic boundaries. Social media allows us to eavesdrop on conferences and conversations. We can share experiences with people outside our immediate network. We can listen, participate and learn. A great example of connecting and learning through social media is 23 Mobile Things, a self-directed online course focussed on learning about ‘mobile technologies that are changing the way people, society and libraries access information and communicate with each other’.

ALIA NGAC (Australian Library and Information Association New Generation Advisory Committee) and New Professionals Network NZ have teamed up to create ANZ 23 mobile things a cohort of around 500 librarians in Australia and New Zealand doing the course together. As well as participants, people have signed up as mentors and volunteers to help create and deliver the course. The course is supported by a Twitter account @anz23mthings and Facebook page ANZ 23 Mobile Things as well as a blog. The course has just started and runs from May-November 2013.

The real beauty of the concept is that it is teaching about social media by using social media. It is an immersive learning experience. The course is creating connections between participants and generating a real buzz on Twitter with the hashtag #anz23mthings. I’ve reflected before on the power of connecting via social media. This is another wonderful illustration.

You have to hand it to librarians. They know how to network.