At the recent Walkley’s Freelance Journalism conference I was asked to speak on developing an online presence as a freelance journalist. It was a fun session, in which La Trobe University’s Lawrie Zion and Anthill Magazine’s James Tuckerman also gave some very valuable and interesting advice. Here’s a recap of what I presented.
In order to understand the online world – and let’s be honest that’s where journalism is heading – you need to operate in it. Here are my top 6 tools (which are a combination of my personal favourites and those sourced through the Twittersphere) that will not only have you operate in the online world, but can actually help you with your day-to-day job.
- Twitter: It is the social media tool of the moment and with good reason. It enables you to tap into a huge network of other journalists, potential editors, potential sources and your audience or at least they could be your audience. Twitter is a hugely important tool for finding stories and leads, but it is also invaluable in driving traffic to stories.
- Google Reader: The internet can feel like a ‘white noise’ of information. For many making the first steps into operating in this space it can be overwhelming just how much there is. Google Reader is the answer. I like to think of it as my personal media monitoring service. Rather than visit the hundreds of different web sites and blogs that I like to read I can have them all delivered to one site. I can even set up a topic based subscription for particular stories or beats that I might be working.
- Delicious – social bookmarking: Delicious works hand-in-hand with Google Reader for me. Rather than have a large list of browser favourites or bookmarks, I save stories or static websites to my delicious account. I can access these bookmarks from any computer, but more importantly, I can save them under relevant tags so I can easily search for them later. They are also presented in a format that makes it easy to share with others.
- Flickr: The social image sharing service in absolutely invaluable. It has a great selection of creative commons licensed images that you can use to brighten up any story or blog post. It is also a great way to get high res images to editors without clogging their inbox.
- Linked In: I will admit it took me a while to fully realise the benefit of Linked In. Yes, it is an online CV, but I think its real value is keeping in contact with and up-to-date with all of those previous professional contacts. The sort of people that you wouldn’t call for a chat – you don’t have that type of relationship. Linked In lets you see if they have moved on (perhaps to a publication where you need a foot in the door?) and keep up to date with them professionally.
- WordPress: I love WordPress – you can probably tell that, given my blog is hosted by it. It’s free and really easy and lets you create a blog and therefore an online presence in a few minutes – what’s not to love.