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Turning a freelance gig into a salaried job?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by BobSacamano, Aug 11, 2010.

  1. BobSacamano

    BobSacamano Member

    One of the places where I freelance is easily the best newsroom environment I've ever visited. It's colorful, vibrant, and vulgar. Walking around, I've seen empty work stations and overwhelmed editors, and I want in. A few of the folks there know me by face, others by name, most by both -- so they all know my work and voice.

    Should I assume, if a position were to become available, they'd offer me the job? I understand it comes down to budgets, but I'm wondering if inquiring about an actual position is only a matter of asking the question.

    Anyone have success doing it? Or any advice on the best way to broach the topic?
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    I would not assume that. I would assume the opposite.

    To be quite frank, a good freelancer is much harder to come by than a full-timer.

    So, you need to let the boss know that you would be very much interested in a full-time job (lots of freelancers aren't).

    Wouldn't hurt to hint that you love doing it but may not be able to keep it up forever, etc...
  3. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    Candidates who already have a full-time newspaper job have the edge over the best freelancer. Freelancers, especially those who put in 40 hours at a paper in a week, have shown they are willing to work for less than a staff writer.
  4. reformedhack

    reformedhack Active Member

    Yes and no. If they're the good people you say they are, they'll probably do the right thing IF you indicate interest and IF they have an opening and IF you have the credentials beyond writing a good prep gamer.

    But if they're actually bastards, they'll keep you as a freelancer because, as was rightly noted, freelancers work far cheaper than staffers. And if you're already doing the work of a staffer for, say, a third of the cost, then it's a no-brainer.

    Good luck.
  5. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Something made painfully aware to me nearly three years ago -- and not forgotten.
  6. beanpole

    beanpole Member

    I wouldn't expect anything to happen if you don't have some negotiating leverage.

    Lots of companies have positions frozen open with no hope of hiring someone in the immediate future, but sports editors have more freedom to bring on stringers who work for less money, and without health insurance and other benefits that hurt the company's bottom line. At my company, I can't hire full-timers without going through three rings of fire, but I can have as many freelancers or stringers as I want.

    Try to get an offer from someone else, doing anything. Then go back to your target company and tell them that you're thinking about taking that gig for the stability and benefits, even though you love working for your target. And ask them to do what they need to do to keep you.

    Good luck, dude.
  7. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Active Member

    I work for a suburban paper with a large coverage area (10 high schools and a junior college, along with a limited measure of area pro sports), and we always look first to our freelancers who have served us, going as far as to ask if they are interested in full-time when those positions open up. I would hope you find yourself in a similar environment, but that's not always the case.

    It should also be noted, we always open our jobs up and expect our freelancers to compete for the position. There is something to be said for experience in the area and loyalty to the company, but some times a more qualified applicant comes on the scene.

    In short, I'd say have a sit-down with your Sports Editor and let them know you are enjoying the work and would love to be considered for a full-time position if one were to open up.
  8. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    I wouldn't say I'd love to be considered. Be direct. Say you love what you do, but are looking for more. But if you don't have the skills that the full-timers have such as working the desk or shooting photos, or don't have a degree, a full-time position might not be in the cards.

    If the OP finished his degree, it would help his negotiating position. Do others in the newsroom not have their degrees? They probably aren't just going to offer you a job, either.
  9. flexmaster33

    flexmaster33 Active Member

    I'd say try to learn some photography and design, while you're freelancing. Those are skill sets that are almost required in any newsroom anymore.
  10. BobSacamano

    BobSacamano Member

    Thanks for all the information and ideas, guys. Much appreciated!

    No degree on my end, but I'm smooth with the multimedia. I'm a decent photographer who gets lucky with some shots, and I'm a swift video editor. I've built websites, edited photos (for print and web), and all the like. There's really no doubt that I can do the job.

    The editor knows the situation with my degree, however. The only courses preventing me from having a degree are irrelevant as a journalist. And because of what my life has been like, working fulltime disallowed me from being a traditional student.

    Anyhow, I still haven't had the conversation because things have been hectic (there and with me). I have some opportunities coming up where I can really show my worth, and I'm hoping to use those as bargaining chips. If I can accomplish what I've been doing as a part-time freelancer, I'd like to express the full extent of possibilities as a full-time employee.
  11. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Working full-time and going to college is tough. Getting a degree is a pain in the ass.

    But I don't know that a class exists that is irrelevant as a journalist. You never know what you might cover or edit.

    Accounting, psychology, Spanish, geometry, English lit, whatever. Any could come into play in writing or editing a story.
  12. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    My first newspaper gig came before I had a degree when I turned a stringer job into a full-time job. Was a stringer for about a year before being offered a spot on the staff. I believe that paper recently did that again maybe a year ago.

    Big fan of that, obviously.
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