John Jenkins on freelance and features: 29 September

As the end of the third week of the intensive Multimedia Journalism course drew nearer, it was inspiring and uplifting to spend a day with John Jenkins on Thursday.

John challenged us to get paid for features and told us how and where to earn the £££ for freelance writing.

I’ve been writing copy for websites, and submitting reviews for a couple of years and although great on my CV, I’ve been working hard and not reaping the finances.

John’s insight and experience provided advice in an interactive and challenging environment.

He told us about a student who produced a feature on women’s golf fashion through the years and sold it to a women’s golf magazine in the UK for a generous sum.  He taught about rights and fees and then revealed that articles can be sold abroad – looking to markets in the US, Australia, NZ and South Africa.

John said you need to identify your target market and about four publications that you can sell to.  Then write the feature.

We were given a deadline and had to write a travel piece about somewhere we had visited and he gave us a framework to work to.

I am lucky in that I spent six months from November 2010-May 2011 travelling so I had a wealth of destinations to choose from.  I chose Kuala Lumpur.

John’s feedback said that with a little bit of work we could start submitting our travel pieces.

Our next task was writing a celebrity feature and all the avenues to contact.  John said that PR companies will be all too happy to help with pictures and interviews by e-mail.

You can use direct quotes from an e-mail interview as if they were a spoken one.

Warning: don’t ask anything that is in the public arena; it’s rude and a waste of questions.

I really enjoyed writing my feature on Jools Holland.  For the sake of the task we made up quotes and facts as if we had received answers to a questionnaire.

John e-mailed group feedback today and I was particularly encouraged by his mention of my piece.  He said, “The outlines for a Jools Holland feature were good and it’s a pity we didn’t have the time to develop the idea.  Becky Barnes was an exception.  She produced an astonishingly good first draft.”

I’m now particularly inspired and excited to do freelance and features.

B x