Admit it. You are a successful freelance writer or journalist. You enjoy a great relationship with the same editors and write for the same publications. It’s a great life. In fact, make that a darn wonderful life. Why change it? Because in today’s world it’s easier than ever to move beyond your own backyard and out into that big, bold world of untapped markets.
Yes, I’m talking about writing for a global audience. Writing for publications in countries that you probably haven’t even visited. Expanding your reach beyond that of what you know. The convenience of easy to use and cost effective modern technologies such as the internet, email, cable television and satellite phones often put all the resources needed to do this right at our fingertips.
But why write for overseas publications when America is full of paying markets? The answer is simply that it gives you new opportunities, such as increasing your income, adding clips to your portfolio, and getting yourself known on a global scale. Add to all this the prestige of being able to tell potential editors and clients that you have been published internationally and it’s a pretty good deal all round.
Becoming a global freelancer is easier than it seems. By following the tips and making use of the resources outlined here you’ll be well on your way to global success.
Finding International Markets
The first step to becoming a global freelancer is to find out as much as you can about your potential market. Take some time to think about the countries you would like to target. Would you prefer pitching to English speaking countries such as the UK and Australia? Or maybe you would like to write for Italian publications because you have family in Rome. Once you have decided this, you are ready to start your research.
The easiest and most cost effective way to source international markets is via the Internet. With just the click of a button you have access to publication information and editorial contacts, sources, statistics, case studies and article ideas.
It’s a good idea to make use of the many websites devoted to freelance journalism (the best of these are listed below). These sites specialize in alerting freelancers to potential markets and often include services such as newsletters, e-zines, article libraries, links to additional information and forums.
Another web trick for finding markets in a specific country is to browse fellow freelancers’ websites. For example, a quick internet search for “Australian freelance journalists” should bring up links for Australian freelancers. You can then browse their clip files and links sections to find out which publications use freelancers, and the type of content these freelancers produce.
Libraries also come in handy when researching global markets. Good libraries often subscribe to international databases, magazines and newspapers. Ask yourself why your library subscribes to particular overseas newspapers and not others. For example, why does it stock Indian newspapers and not South African newspapers? It may be because there is a high population of Indian people living in the area. If this is the case, that means there will also be story opportunities within this community that may suit your international market.
To get your hands on international publications not stocked by your local library, ask friends and family traveling overseas to bring you back some magazines and newspapers. This doesn’t have to be an expensive exercise: in-flight travel magazines and the free newspapers given out in hotels and cafes could be really helpful.
And don’t underestimate word of mouth. Simply asking colleagues in the field if they know of any overseas opportunities for freelancers is a good way of not only sourcing information, but letting people know that you are looking for international work.
Having the Right Ideas
Not every idea suitable for the American market will work overseas. For example, an article outlining the best school lunches in Minnesota obviously won’t suit a Scottish audience.
It is important to know a little about the country and its media industry before you start pitching. You don’t have to be an expert, but doing a little bit of reading can make you seem all the more professional when it comes to liaising with international editors.
Again, the Internet is the easiest way of finding information when it comes to the overseas media. A lot of newspapers now have their own websites and the better ones, such as The Guardian newspaper in Britain, have email subscription services that deposit the latest news right into your inbox. Online virtual communities and magazines such as Slate and Crikey are also valuable resources for journalists.
If you have written an article for an American publication that you think would suit an international audience, why not use it twice? You can pitch a published article as long as you repackage it to suit the style of your new market. For example, you may have written an article about new innovations in technology for USA Today. By making slight changes to it, you could easily pitch it to The Sydney Morning Herald or The London Times. It is important to check, however, that you still own international resale rights.
Writing for an international audience also lets you try out ideas that wouldn’t work in the US. For example, The Miami Herald wouldn’t necessarily be interested in a travel piece about life in the Florida Keys, whereas the Japan Times might love it. Writing about your local area and culture – things that are commonplace to you – make fascinating reading for the international reader.
Important Rules to Remember
There are some important rules to remember before submitting your piece to other parts of the world.
Most importantly, almost every country has slight differences in their grammar and style. The best example of this is the differences between the spelling of simple words, such as “color” (we spell it color, whereas the UK spells it colour). Changing the language settings on your computer writing program may help ensure that your punctuation, grammar and spelling are right for your market.
You also need to be aware that an international audience will not understand American humor, or even use the same brand of product, so it’s important to keep the tone of your article universal. The sentence: “Oh my gosh, I would love a chocolate chip cookie” would make no sense to an English reader, whereas “Bollocks, I’d rather a hob nob” would.
Your new editor will also love you if you take the time to explain details that seem ordinary to you, but that your new readers may not understand. For example, if you’re writing an article about teaching high school for a German magazine, you may need to briefly explain a little bit about the American cultural practices, such as study hall and cheerleading, that a German audience may not be familiar with.
As the world turns more global, it becomes easier than ever to receive payments from overseas. Most banks accept international money transfers and foreign checks; and services such as Paypal are user friendly. However you do need to ensure that you won’t be hit with fees and exchange rates.
If you can, try and negotiate the form of payment before you accept the commission. For example, you may only use Paypal, whereas your client could prefer to pay you via an international money transfer. It is also a good idea to add a fee to your commission to cover any bank fees and exchange rates.
Below is a list of options to be aware of when you are choosing your preferred method of payment:
International Money Transfers
International money transfers are a convenient way of receiving payment. Banks do vary on fees so it is important to shop around before you open an account.
Most banks will cash a foreign check for you, but they tend to recommend that you consider online options for future transactions. Fees are pricey, as are exchange rates.
A Paypal account is free to set up (all you need is an email address and a credit card or bank account). Once funds have been transferred into your Paypal account, you simply transfer them into your bank account. Or, you can use your paypal funds to pay for items online. Like the banks, Paypal does charge fees for making transactions, and these vary depending on what type of transaction you make. However, the fees will likely be much lower than the ones banks charge for international transactions. Go to http://www.paypal.com for more information. Be aware that there are some complaints about this service online, including the fact that they’ve been accused of freezing bank accounts.
Western Union now offers an online account, which saves you from going into a branch to pick up transferred funds. However there are some limitations that international money transfers and Paypal don’t have. For example, Western Union prefers the money to be credited to a credit or debit card, not a bank account. Fees are also quite high – a $100 payment coming from Australia will cost approximately $20 in fees. Visit http://www.westernunion.com for more information.
This list of online resources, in no particular order, contains links to websites designed to help the global freelancer.
Worldwide Journalism Net
Google rates it as one of the top ten journalism web sites worldwide. It offers resources and news feeds from the US, Canada, France, Sweden and Africa.
World Wide Freelance Writer
Designed for the global writer, this site offers tips and advice for breaking into the global market, as well as a market directory and a weekly newsletter.
The Guardian’s World News Guide
The Guardian has a comprehensive world news guide with links to publications in every region in the world.
International Federation of Journalists
The world’s largest association for journalists. The website includes a special section for freelancers, a jobs directory, advice for global journalists and information by region.
Media Job Search
Lists media job opportunities in Canada.
Canadian Media Guild
Includes a special section for freelancers with helpful links and articles
Professional Writers Association of Canada
The national organization representing freelancers, with information on publications that use freelancers.
Helps journalists get in touch with experts, arranges press trips and assists in finding news and story ideas.
JournoBiz Journalist’s Forum
An incredible helpful forum for freelancers all over the word.
A comprehensive website with information for freelancers, a newsletter and publication directories.
Jobs in Journalism
A large jobs directory, newsletters, news and resources.
Hold the Front Page
A great resource for writers, with information on UK publications and a job board.
A freelancer’s forum designed for sharing ideas, contacts and resources.
Has forums and a job directory.
Specializes in providing information for freelancers.
A site where you can find case studies for stories and features.
The UK’s premier press rag, its online version has stories, opinion, a freelance directory, jobs and a useful links section.
An independent media directory for the UK, with listings of publications, forums, and a job board.
Ideas 4 Writers
Helps you find great ideas in almost any category. Also includes an e-zine, newsletter, and a links section.
Freelancers in the UK
Information and services for freelance writers, a project board and useful links.
The Walkley Magazine
Australia’s premier media publication, written by journalists for journalists. The website summarizes topical Australian news and offers links to valuable resources.
Australian Journalists Association
Now a part of the Australian Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, the AJA website includes a freelancers section and offers advice for journalists regarding legal, payment and equity issues.
Australian Centre for Independent Journalism
Similar to the AJA, the Centre for Independent Journalism lists resources, news and training for journalists.
Australian Bureau of Statistics
Provides official statistics and resources on anything Australian.
Margaret Gee’s Media Directory
Australia’s premier media directory, it lists details for Australian publications, including editor contact information. Most commonly used in its printed format, it is also available online for a hefty subscription fee (approximately $200).
Similar to the Margaret Gee Media Directory, but a lot cheaper (approximately $120).
The premier search engine for media jobs in Australia.
The Australian journalist’s fact finding source, helping reporters find experts, case studies, statistics and information in almost any category.
Run by the same people as Journo Oz, it helps put journalists in touch with experts from professional Australian organizations.
The biggest newspaper corporation in Australia. Its website provides you with information and contact details for each of its titles, including the national daily, The Australian.
Australia’s second largest newspaper publishing group. Its titles include The Financial Review and the Sydney Morning Herald.
Publishes the top regional titles in Australian newspapers.
Australia’s biggest magazine publisher.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
The ABC is Australia’s equivalent to the BBC, and often uses freelancers.
Australia’s leading forum for media analysis and comment, it reviews top media stories and media personalities.
An independent media phenomenon, Crikey comments on leading media stories, the media industry, and accepts pitches from freelancers.
An open publishing forum, the site accepts submissions from journalists, while also keeping subscribers up to date on what’s happening in the New Zealand media.
The Big Idea
A virtual community for “creatives”, the site features an industry news section, a forum and a marketplace.
New Zealand News
All the resources you need for breaking into the New Zealand market.
Fairfax New Zealand
New Zealand’s largest media company, the site has information on its titles as well as a job directory.
New Zealand’s leading news sites with links to magazines and newspapers, and a job directory.
Pacific Islands Media Association
The Pacific Islands Media Association aims to support and develop pacific media. The site provides great contacts for journalists wanting to work in the Pacific.
Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs
Provides resources and information on the Pacific Islands
Pacific Journalism Review
A journal covering media issues in the South Pacific.
A magazine covering all news in the Pacific.
Asian Media Watch
A media monitoring service keeping you up to date with news from across Asia. It also includes a forum and some publication details.
Asian Media Information and Communication Centre
Based in Singapore, this site lists valuable resources, databases and research for media professionals.
South Asian Media Net
South East Asian country profiles and resources, news, opinion and a publication database.
Asian Media Access
News and announcements regarding the Asian media. Resources include a comprehensive links section and a newsletter.
Africa Media Online
Lists contact details for African media professionals and links to other media sites.
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Includes a media directory, job section, legal information and country information.
South African National Editors Forum
Working to promote freedom of expression in the African media, this site includes key information on the state of the media industry in Africa.
African Women’s Media Centre
Dedicated to African women in the media, resources include an African media directory, a newsletter, forum, training information, handbooks on reporting on sensitive issues in Africa and a links section.
Summarizes the top news stories and issues concerning Africa
Specializes in helping reporters find accurate information and has a comprehensive database of media professionals and experts.
The Middle East Media Research Institute
The MEMRI translates Middle Eastern news reports into English, has a newsletter service and accepts pitches from freelancers.
The Middle East Information Network
A comprehensive database of Middle Eastern publications and news agencies.
The European Journalism Centre
Offers a daily email of the latest developments of the European media, as well as information and resources for journalists.
A comprehensive database of all European media publications, as well as links and resources for journalists.
South East Europe Media Organisation
A network of editors and journalists dedicated to freedom of the press in Europe. Includes information on reporting in Europe, a media handbook, and an online media magazine.
European Media Network
The website for a European news bureau based in New York. Has links to European journalist organizations.
A comprehensive database of media information, publication databases, country information and links to resources.
Latin Business Chronicle
Links to Latin American media sites
Caribbean Media Network
Offers comprehensive resources to media professionals, including a forum.
Caribbean Media Online
Resources include a publications database and a forum.
Links to overseas publications mentioned in this article:
The Guardian (United Kingdom) – http://www.guardian.co.uk
Crikey (Australia) – http://www.crikey.com.au
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) – http://www.smh.com.au
London Times (United Kingdom) – http://www.the-times.co.uk
Japan Times (Japan) – http://www.japantimes.co.jp
Links to American publications mentioned in this article:
Kasey Brunt is a freelance print journalist currently based in Australia. She writes for publications from several countries. For more information view her website at http://www.kbfreelance.moonfruit.com.