Perquisites of Freelance Writing
Besides getting paid to do what you love, there are certain ancillary benefits of becoming a professional writer. Freelancer writers don't have to be Las Vegas gamblers to get comped.
Travel the world and have a corporation or tourism board pick up the tab. How can this be? Itís as simple as the sea is salt. Tourism bureaus for states, countries and hotels regularly help writers visit their properties. Sometimes airfare is included. Most often you will be comped for hotels and meals. Donít misunderstand. This is not a free ride. You must represent to the PR agency in good faith that you either have a firm assignment, or a reasonable expectation of an assignment. What this means in the real world is that you could go on a press junket to Ireland or Japan, with airfare, hotels and meals paid for. Sometimes you fly business class and stay in five star hotels. Sometimes, the amenities are coach. Once back home you write a nice 800 word story, include some colorful fotos and give it to your favorite newspaper. Be advised though that cash is king. You canít pay a mortgage giving away newspaper articles. But you can see the world for a dime.
Another truth worth telling, press junkets are fun but they are undeniably hard work. The days are long, beginning early in the morning and lasting until late at night as you traipse through an unending procession of museums and art galleries, as well as various restaurants and hotels wear comfortable shoes.
Often times you can visit museums for free. Many simply allow free entrance by showing a press card, or at least your I-Am-A Writer business card and picture ID. I already know what you are about to ask. Freelancer most commonly get press cards by joining writers groups. like BWI for boating writers, and SATW for travel writers. My favorite organization is NWU.org, the National Writers Union. Whatever press card you get, donít leave home without it.
If you are into theatre arts get a gig writing reviews. Then take a friend along to a play or the opera on the house and the cast party backstage afterwards. Talk between yourselves and you have the grist of a good column.
If you are a foodie, naturally it follows you are a food critic. Set up a system and you could dine in restaurants for nothing. Pitch a food column to your local weekly or daily paper. But in the midst of all this one must never take advantage of restaurateurs, for there is no such thing as a free lunch. Whilst nibbling away at the entrťe you are indeed working. So put down the fork and take notes, knowing that memory fades even within an hour of a meal. Write a fair reviews.
As a working journalist you can visit Disney properties, Parisian cabarets and other venues free of charge. Contact the press office, or tourism board and politely inquire about the requirements. Obviously all of these venues expect press coverage. So explain who you are and ask about their policies. Be honest and forthright. If you donít qualify, move on.
Remember early on when we talked about attending trade shows? When talking with the PR guys arrange to get free samples of merchandise. You can legitimately request samples for evaluation if you intend to write about the products. Get a firm assignment first. Then contact the public relations agency for whatever product youíre interested in evaluating. The name and phone number is on the press release you picked up in the press room. Contact information is also listed in the show directory that you wisely picked up from the kiosk as you went out onto the show floor. If neither of these sources are good for you, call the corporate headquarters and politely ask the receptionist who it is you need to contact.
Some companies want the items back, others don't. If they want them back, return them in a timely manner. All of them expect you to send the tearsheets of the article you wrote, about their products, no matter whether it's a good review or bad. And at the end of the day donít make the mistake of trying to sell the freebies on E-Bay when youíre done with them. Thatís unethical, unctuous and unconscionable. It will come back to haunt you. - Next Chapter - Table of Contents -