Robin Cannone – Online freelance writer and journalist:
I have already been thinking for some time now about my entrepreneurial project. In a previous blog post I came to the conclusion that starting-up as a freelance was the wisest choice:
Partly because of the realism of the idea, partly because of the skills I have acquired throughout my journalistic experience.
This involves writing about music, cinema and news for magazines. You can find samples of my work by clicking on the magazine name:
- Never Enough Notes / sub-editor specialised in music reviewing (UK)
- Across The Days / editor specialised in cinema and television (France)
- Birmingham Eastside / sub-editor in journalism and news
In parallel, I have also developed various skills in journalism (use of softwares and tools such as Avid or WordPress). However, my research has led me to realise that I have much more chances to succeed if aiming at a niche market in which I have experience and knowledge (music in particular). Then, once I have made a name for myself in this field, I could potentially expand and write about pretty much everything.
Moreover, using all that distinguish me from others competitors, I can write in English as well as French which is a huge asset for magazines that publish in those two languages.
- Potential competitors:
During my research, I came across a map on www.journalism.co.uk listing all the potential competitors around Birmingham with the same expertise as mine. I identified two freelancers within a distance of ten miles who were also specialised in music, films and arts in general. Their communication strategy, in particular with clients, is based on social media, notably Twitter, LinkedIn and WordPress.
Of course, I do know there are more than two potential competitors in the Midlands but any self-proclaimed ‘freelance writer‘ could be my potential competitor. And god knows how many there are out there.
To appear professional, it helps to have a blog and portfolio with samples of work that have been published. It is even better if you have been paid for your work. Here are my samples.
Using various tools, such as Followerwonk, LinkedIn and WordPress (which happen to be the tools freelancers use to promote themselves) I have searched for competitors around Birmingham: most of them are volunteers. My conclusion is that twitter is not the right platform to research for professional freelancers.
I had drawn steps to follow at the end of a previous blog post. Instead of focusing on competitors, I forced myself to contacte the professionals I had identified as “role models” who do what I want to do. I tried contacting and researching as many as I could, with more or less success (two of them are now following me on Twitter):
- James Nolan:
- Clive Martin:
He suggests to write passionately and excitingly:
- Etienne Menu:
In this interview, Etienne points out a tendency in French media to only talk about music in terms of meaningfulness. Suggesting to aspiring music journalists the need to write about music in a new way, less socially inclined and more artistically orientated.
It appears that what the industry is looking for is fresh air and original piece that approach things in another angle. And all the experts agree on the importance of modesty and the importance of voluntary work and pitching to a regional level before aiming for the national.
- How to pitch:
Amongst all the successful freelancers I contacted, none was willing to discuss money and revenue because it did not look professional. I figured I would research the market and learn how to pitch so that I could send stories to editors and discuss money matters with them without sounding like an annoyance.
All these websites come up with their own idea. Although things differ slightly on certain points, a general idea can be drawn on how to pitch stories to magazines.
- Guidelines from research:
- Read magazine
- Look for writing guidelines
- Get the attention of Editor (email or phone call)
- Pitch a story
- Ask for commitment (joins Rob Fitzpatrick’s mom test)
- Send your work
Nevertheless, Instead of pitching the story, James advised me to send entire articles to magazines. He said:
I think when you don’t have a lot of credits it’s important to take a chance and do the work without waiting for permission to convince an editor you have what it takes.”
- Evaluation of the enterprise model:
Following the Business Canvas Model, Simon Bolton‘s “How to innovate” programme, and my research of the industry, I have identified the core weaknesses (Broken Windows) of my idea and organised myself to remedy to these:
- Concerning the strength, my knowledge of the industry, my cultural experience of France and the UK and my contact networks (in both countries) are definitely going to be something pushing me forward.
- For my next step, one of my contacts is going to introduce me to Fused Magazine (local) to remedy to the issues highlighted above. In parallel, I am going to start investing more into essential ressources.
If you are interested by my services, you can contact me using the form below:
Follow me on Twitter @robincannone