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Re-entry into journalism

(22 Posts)
candlelight22 Sun 12-Mar-17 09:46:02

After seven years as a SAHM I am thinking about going back into journalism.

I worked initially in print and then moved onto broadcast news for ITV. However, the hours proved too long with small children.

I am toying with the idea of freelancing and don't know how best to go about it. Technology has changed so much since I left that I could not go back to my old job even if I wanted to. Many of my former colleagues have moved on too.

I want to work flexible hours around school holidays etc. Has anyone got any advice? What is the pay like? How do you establish yourself again?

I realise I need some training in social media, SEO and that type of thing, but it seems to cost hundreds of pounds.

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GrumpyOldBag Sun 12-Mar-17 16:16:17

OP I had a similar career to you, but decided to go into PR instead. Another friend trains journalists and another provides media training for corporate executives - good if you have a broadcast background especially.

It's been a huge success & have my own consultancy & work as much or as little as I like.

As for social media, you don't need an expensive training course. Just start doing it (Twitter is the main one for journos) and you'll quickly get the hang of it. And Twitter and Hootsuite offer lots of free online tutorials too.

SEO is a more specialised thing and I'd leave that to marketing boffins.

Good luck.

MrsMarigold Sun 12-Mar-17 16:20:09

I'm in the same boat, good to hear positive stories.

EurusHolmes Sun 12-Mar-17 16:27:00

I'm at the start of my journalism career! Sorry I can't help but I was wondering if you had any advice?

Currently working as a reporter for a local newspaper but would love to break into broadcasting.

TheBogQueen Sun 12-Mar-17 16:30:36

I'm also in PR - public sector after about 6 years looking after my kids and doing shift work in another sector on nights and weekends to pay bills and fit around childcare.

I was a print journalist for 10 years before that. My current role is writing content. It's low pay but some real job satisfaction plus flexible working.

Social media is definitely key to PR roles now. Everything is image led and we are being required to do more and more insight and analysis to measure reach.

However there is an advantage to being able to spell, punctuate and string a sentence together in an engaging way.

candlelight22 Sun 12-Mar-17 16:43:34

GrumpyOldBag - How did you get started in PR? What exactly did you do? It sounds ideal.
I'm nowhere near London and I'd assumed PR budgets would have been cut in recent years so really haven't thought that would be an option.

EurusHolmes - Whilst doing NCTJ I did some work experience in television newsroom. I must have made an impression because two years later I got a call asking me if I'd like to interview for a vacant position. It's a question of getting yourself known by the people who count. Good luck!

TheBogQueen - did you get prior training in social media or pick it up on the job?

Thanks everyone. Great replies.

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m0therofdragons Sun 12-Mar-17 16:51:24

I moved from journalism to comms (press office work). I love it and fits much better around family life. Dh is in journalism and it's fairly flexible but he's the only one with kids and very senior so can call the shots to a degree (like take dd1 into work with chickenpox as he has his own office and all staff assured him they'd had it so no danger of getting it. I don't know if other staff would enjoy that flexibility.

m0therofdragons Sun 12-Mar-17 16:53:08

I did freelance for a while and one client paid a monthly retainer but the other was a nightmare. District council took 3 months to pay me and I always had to chase. Just as well we didn't rely on my money. Put me off freelance work. Where are you op?

GrumpyOldBag Sun 12-Mar-17 16:57:04

OP, like you I had a 7-year maternity leave (!) and moved away from London.

My first PR job was with a local, small, growing business - corporate PR. I made the most of my journalist credentials to get the job - PRs love ex-journos, since the job is mainly about communicating with journos. Most of it is common sense anyway. After a few years I decided I'd be better off on my own & set up a consultancy. I work in a very niche field which helps.

Agree with BogQueen that proper grammar & writing skills are essential!

TheCakes Sun 12-Mar-17 16:57:18

I'm a freelance journalist. I love it. I did 15 years in print before I made the leap. Now I write for the nationals and magazines. I'll send you details of a brilliant Facebook group. Its an absolute hive of knowledge and support. I'd start there.

TheCakes Sun 12-Mar-17 17:03:25

Also, have a look at the book No Contacts? No Problem by Catherine Quinn. That will give you an idea of where to start.

There are people on the group who run pitching courses and social media training.

It's very do-able.

bluejelly Sun 12-Mar-17 17:10:54

Articles by Nieman lab and are good for getting up to speed in social and digital journalism. Best of luck!

TheBogQueen Sun 12-Mar-17 17:27:13

Re:social media

While I was looking after the babies I also volunteered for a charity and ended up setting up their website in Wordpress with a friend who was a bit more clued up on the technical side. That grew naturally into a Twitter account and some Facebook groups which offered online support for users. Also Mailchimp and Google analytics.
It was a valuable learning experience particularly around the challenge of getting hard to reach groups to interact online.

I always think the fantastic thing about social media is that you can experiment and learn how to grow an audience. Just start doing it. There's no secret knowledge required.

In terms of returning to work - I've found it frustrating and difficult to settle into a junior role after a more senior position but the flip side is that I do have a worklife balance unlike the more senior folk.

candlelight22 Sun 12-Mar-17 18:31:43

TheCakes - thank you. I'd love details of that Facebook group. Can you PM me?

GrumpyOldBag - did you offer your services to your first client or did you respond to a vacancy? I'm concerned that my seven years "off" will stand against me. I did do some unpaid PR work at my DD's school last year and got some radio and print coverage for them. I really enjoyed the buzz of working again.

"TheBogQueen* - fab advice. It wasn't really around when I left work so slightly apprehensive. I was editing my own material on Avid so if I can get my head round that, I'm sure I can tackle social media!

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TheCakes Sun 12-Mar-17 18:57:18

I've sent you a DM - have you got it? I reckon if you can deal with Avid you can deal with anything!

candlelight22 Sun 12-Mar-17 21:34:12

Thanks TheCakes. Tried to open it but says it's not available at the moment and that it may be only visible to an audience I'm not in (knew I had to fathom out this social media thing). I guess it's a closed site. How can I join?
No good googling it either.......bother!

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TheCakes Sun 12-Mar-17 22:17:32

Hmm, I think I just requested entry. I've sent you another message with info on how to get in.

GrumpyOldBag Mon 13-Mar-17 08:58:44

OP, I got my first PR job by making a list of all the companies I wanted to work for locally and sending them my cv and a very good letter on spec. That got me an interview. No issue with 7-year absence if they feel you have something good to offer. And in my area there's a bit of a shortage of good people. It probably also helped that the CEO was a pregnant woman.

candlelight22 Mon 13-Mar-17 09:27:14

Thank you GrumpyOldBag. I could certainly do that round here. Fab practical advice.
I really do appreciate everyone taking the time to respond. I'm much more positive now. I do feel I still have a lot to offer, but years away has led to a real dip in confidence. I have to dig out my old pieces to remind myself of my achievements!

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TheCakes Mon 13-Mar-17 10:16:34

But as you know Candle, it's a funny old business where you judge yourself on the merits of the last piece you did. Once you've got a few fresh pieces of work under your belt the buzz will come back.

DownHereInTheHorridHouse Mon 13-Mar-17 10:21:26

I left journalism about 10 years ago - from what I can tell, the pay has really changed since then (even at the DM as they use a lot of free stuff and trainees - although if you're on their preferred list of feature writers, I think it's still decent money). I couldn't afford to go back to it from what I hear. I used to only work a couple of days a week (not long days either!), but there is so much taken from online sources now that it seems quite hard to make a living solely at that, so I'd agree that combining it with something else would be a good idea.

(Disclaimer: I am totally out of the loop and probably only hear the complaints, so this might be totally wrong advice!)

candlelight22 Wed 22-Mar-17 10:40:41

Hi TheCakes, can you PM me on joining the No 1 Ladies Freelance group please? I'm on Facebook now.
Thanks so much. smile

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