Category Archives: Freelancing

New year, new Freelance Center content

About Barbara Mantel

Barbara Mantel (@BJMantel), an independent journalist, is AHCJ’s freelance community correspondent. Her work has appeared in CQ Researcher, Rural Health Quarterly, Undark, Healthline, NBCNews.com and NPR, among others. She helps members find the resources they need to succeed as freelancers and welcomes your suggestions.

Photo by Isaac Smith via Unsplash.

The new year is off to a swift start at the Freelance Center. I have added four new market guides and a tip sheet. As always, I encourage freelance members to email me with suggestions for Freelance Center content. The latest market guides are for the following publications:

Leaps

Medical innovation is the heart of Leaps’ coverage. The nonprofit’s articles range in length from 750 to 1,500 words, and the fee is $1 per word, slightly more for experienced, award-winning writers. “A new drug for some disease wouldn’t be a big enough deal for us to cover, but if it represented a whole new approach, or revealed a way to treat something that was previously untreatable or had something really notable like that, then we would probably be interested in it,” Editor-in-Chief Kira Peikoff said. Articles should have a relatable human element, such as a patient’s or researcher’s story.

MedPage Today

This digital news outlet negotiates fees based on the nature of the article and the experience of the writer. Articles range in length from 800 to 1,000 words. The target audience is physicians and other health professionals such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants. “We are looking for articles that impact the daily practice of medicine,” said Joyce Frieden, MedPage Today Washington editor and AHCJ board member.

Science

This publisher of science research and news pays a minimum of $0.75 a word for online stories, going up to $1 a word or more for its regular writers. Fees for print stories start at $1.25 per word. Writers are paid for the length of the final product. As a writer whose work is usually lengthened and not shortened during the editing process, I am in favor of that policy. Others may disagree. “We’re looking for outside-the-ordinary stories that are not being covered by everyone,” Managing News Editor JohnTravis said. Narrative features are becoming more common in Science, but the stories are told less from a patient perspective and more from a scientist’s perspective.

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Pitching guides for freelancers

About Barbara Mantel

Barbara Mantel (@BJMantel), an independent journalist, is AHCJ’s freelance community correspondent. Her work has appeared in CQ Researcher, Rural Health Quarterly, Undark, Healthline, NBCNews.com and NPR, among others. She helps members find the resources they need to succeed as freelancers and welcomes your suggestions.

Photo by Hillary via Flickr.

AHCJ’s Freelance Center market guides are all up to date. New ones have been added monthly. Each guide includes information about fees, editor contacts, pitching advice, quotes from at least one of the publication’s editors, and, where available, a link to the publication’s written pitching guidelines.

Since my last blog post about the latest freelance market guides, I have added four new and revised market guides (The Philadelphia Inquirer, Brain & Life, Spectrum and Wired).

The Philadelphia Inquirer

The Philadelphia Inquirer is looking for pitches for the health section of its Sunday print edition. “Anything in health is fair game,” said Kelly O’Shea, deputy health editor. Local focus around Philadelphia and South Jersey is necessary; a photo opportunity is always a plus. The editors place a premium on featuring a patient in the story. Another approach is to pitch a profile about a prominent researcher in the geographic area. The fee averages about $300 for a 1,100-word story.

Brain & Life

Brain & Life is published on behalf of the American Academy of Neurology. The publication pays experienced writers $1 per word for print and digital articles, which range in length from 800 to 2,500 words. Readers are people with neurologic disorders and family members. The print magazine can be found at neurologists’ offices and you can subscribe to it for free. Neurologic disorders that are covered include “everything from autism and Alzheimer’s to Zika,” Managing Editor Mary Bolster said. Most story ideas are generated internally, so freelancers don’t need to pitch a specific idea. Rather, they should introduce themselves through email. 

Spectrum

Fees at Spectrum, the leading source of news, analysis and expert opinion on autism research, start at $1 per word. The audience for this digital magazine is primarily autism researchers. Nevertheless, “our articles need to be written in language that is accessible to lots of people because a lot of other people do read our content,” including families and clinicians, Features Editor Ingrid Wickelgren said. “We are looking for scoops, trends stories, explainers and feature articles that will interest our core audience of autism researchers.”

Wired

Freelancers can pitch ideas for features, which average around 5000 words and run on the website and sometimes in the monthly print magazine, or ideas for the digital science section. Science section stories range in length from 800 to 1200 words. Fees are competitive and are negotiated with each writer. Feature stories are narratives; science section stories are based on recent, but not breaking news. Every Wired story “has technology, science, or innovation as one of its key variables,” according to Wired’s pitching guidelines.

If you would like pitching instructions from a particular publication or you have a contact for a publication that you think I should approach, please email me at freelance@healthjournalism.org.

Expand your freelance business by writing for niche publications

About Barbara Mantel

Barbara Mantel (@BJMantel), an independent journalist, is AHCJ’s freelance community correspondent. Her work has appeared in CQ Researcher, Rural Health Quarterly, Undark, Healthline, NBCNews.com and NPR, among others. She helps members find the resources they need to succeed as freelancers and welcomes your suggestions.

The panelists and moderator of AHCJ’s Dec. 8 webcast.

I have been lucky as a freelancer to have a regular gig as a contributing writer for CQ Researcher, an online magazine that examines a single topic in depth each week. It serves as the backbone for my freelance business. As editors at other publications come and go and their freelance budgets shrink, CQ Researcher has been a reliable and steady source of assignments.

But the stories can take months to report, write and edit, and frankly, I am a bit burned out. As a result, I have been reducing the number of CQ Researcher articles that I write each year and looking to expand the number of other media outlets I freelance for. 

I was in this frame of mind when independent journalist Jen A. Miller approached me about providing AHCJ’s freelance members information about writing for niche publications. Miller has written “Notes from a Hired Pen: Where to Find New Freelance Writing Clients and Turbocharge Your Career,” an e-book that is full of tips for finding, pitching and writing for specialized publications beyond the traditional consumer outlets freelancers often think of pitching. 

There is a whole world of potential clients for freelancers to tap beyond newspapers, general interest science and health magazines, women’s magazines and other traditional consumer publications. Trade groups publish magazines for members, companies for customers and universities for alums. Media conglomerates may have a stable of specialized publications targeting various professional groups. Many are looking for talented freelance writers to fill out the pages, whether digital or print.

That’s why on Wednesday, Dec. 8 at 3:00 p.m. EST, I will be moderating a panel discussion for an AHCJ webinar called “Beyond newsstands: how to expand your freelance business through niche publications.”

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Dozens of freelancers participate in AHCJ’s second virtual PitchFest

About Jeanne Erdmann and Barbara Mantel

Jeanne Erdmann (@jeanne_erdmann) is a member of AHCJ's board of directors and is chair of the freelance committee. Barbara Mantel (@BJMantel), an independent journalist, is AHCJ’s freelance community correspondent.

AHCJ’s second virtual PitchFest was held late last month with 67 freelance members participating. Writers pitched their ideas to top health editors from 21 publications, including AARP, Discover Magazine, Kaiser Health News, National Geographic, The New York Times and Scientific American.

Freelancers signed up in advance for 10-minute sessions with editors. These meetups allowed them to pitch a story idea and better understand the types of stories editors want today. Both sides welcomed the opportunity to get to know one another and consider assignments.

“I’ve always appreciated all the work and organization that must go into PitchFest to make it run so smoothly. Last year I had no idea how things would go when PitchFest moved online, but I ended up loving the accessibility and increased privacy (and I am still writing for one of the editors I met there!). I found this year’s new platform even easier to use. But I’m still looking forward to the next in-person event,” said Sheila M. Eldred, an independent journalist in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The one-on-one dynamics of the in-person event translated well to the online format, especially for Elizabeth Devita Raeburn, executive editor at Everyday Health, who calls herself an “extroverted introvert.”

“I love PitchFest, not only because it’s a pragmatic way to recruit new writers (and I always need them), but because it’s a novel way to get to know people in the field who I might not otherwise have encountered,” Raeburn said. “I’m looking forward to seeing all my people in person when AHCJ goes live again.”

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Kick chaos to the curb: Useful freelance tools for improving workflow and time management

About Barbara Mantel

Barbara Mantel (@BJMantel), an independent journalist, is AHCJ’s freelance community correspondent. Her work has appeared in CQ Researcher, Rural Health Quarterly, Undark, Healthline, NBCNews.com and NPR, among others. She helps members find the resources they need to succeed as freelancers and welcomes your suggestions.

Photo by Sebastian Rieger via Flickr.

I’m old-fashioned and often reluctant to download apps to organize my work. I mainly use spreadsheets, mailboxes and desktop folders. While this method works, it’s not efficient. For example, I have story ideas scattered in several places, and occasionally, I’ll open a document or an email where I typically store them and realize that my great story idea is now stale.

Now, I have begun to cautiously try some apps to help improve both my workflow and time management.

Clockify

I usually get paid by the word or the project, but often what I care about most is how that translates into hourly payment. Am I spending too much time on an assignment that I’m working for 99 cents an hour? Clockify is a time management tool that allows me to enter a project and click on and off a timer as I work. If I were ambitious, I could also create reports and send invoices. The company offers paid plans with more functions, but I use the free version.

Toggl Track

Toggl Track, another time-tracking app (available in both free and paid versions), is a popular choice among some AHCJ members. 

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