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While working as an independent journalist can be rewarding, it is also a tremendous amount of work to run your own business. AHCJ has a vibrant freelance community. Members are willing to offer ideas, contacts and support to each other. Our resources include job postings, advice articles, webcasts, links and more. To expand these resources, we look to members like you to offer suggestions, write tip sheets and expand our available links. We also have an active Freelance Committee interested in pursuing more services for you.

New Tip Sheet

Be an entrepreneur

Two top freelancers and an attorney offer a series of tips to help you think of your freelance work as a real business. See it now...

New Market Guide

Nature Medicine

Get insight on what kinds of stories and writers this publication is looking for and tips from the assigning editor. See it now »

New Benefit

Discounted access to LexisNexis

This research database of more than 26,000 news sources is a vital resource for those covering health care. See it now »

  • Pitching & PitchFest

    One important skill freelancers need is the ability to craft a winning pitch. In this section, freelance writers will find strategies from writers about what worked for them and from editors about what they seek from writers. See resources on the basics of pitching, what to do (and what not to do) when pitching, which pitches are effective and which ones are not.

    Got a story idea? Pitch it to an editor at AHCJ’s annual PitchFest.

    Editors from some of the top magazines, newspapers and websites attend our annual conference to give you an opportunity to sit down and discuss your ideas one-on-one.

    "The PitchFest was great for me. I was able to speak with three editors and did receive an assignment from one magazine. I've completed the piece and am waiting for it to be published. It was well worth my time, and will likely end up covering the cost of the trip." – Shawna De La Rosa

    "I did not expect to get any kind of commitment, because I'm at the earliest stage of a potential book project. For me it was valuable and informative to talk to someone who represents a later-stage step for me. I got to text my elevator pitch, and I got encouragement and good feedback. Totally worth my time." – Jill Adams

    "PitchFest was the main reason why I went to the conference this year. While the experience was mixed -- to be expected when meeting with multiple editors -- it was well worth the investment of time and money. One of my meetings was about a book, so it is way early to report progress on that, and I still have to follow up with others. But one contact resulted in an assignment for two web stories and some travel support. We later discussed expanding that into a feature assignment but then decided to stick with the original commitment. I'm working on those stories now and anticipate an ongoing work relationship." – Bob Roehr

    "The PitchFest went very well. Writers were prepared, were familiar with the magazine and came up with some great ideas. I have made, and will make more assignments with some of the writers I made. Really, the biggest problem is not having enough room for all the pitches I liked! Definitely worth my time. Thanks again!" – Tod Jones, Costco Connection

    "Overall, the PitchFest experience was really good and well-organized. I do feel that it was definitely worth our time at Scientific American and appreciated the format and organization. Many thanks." – Dina Maron, Scientific American

    FEATURED RESOURCES

    Freelancers learn to maximize social media skills
    Attendees at Health Journalism 2018 learned how to up their social media game from those who do it well — and how to avoid potential problems — at the “Freelance: Flex your social media muscle” session.

    Tips for freelancers to unleash their inner entrepreneur
    Two top freelancers at Health Journalism 2018 – Linda Marsa and Heather Boerner – and attorney Ruth Carter offered a series of great tips to help you start thinking of your freelance work as a real business … and make it pay like one.

    Freelance: The best career hacks
    A number of independent journalists – on a panel and in the audience – shared their best tools and advice for being a successful freelancer. Advice includes tools and software to use, best networking practices, how to be businesslike and building your brand.

    Using smartphones and DSLRs to tell stories
    Insights on some tools, techniques to offer multimedia content to clients.

    Mastering the art of the pitch
    In an hourlong webcast, two top editors offered their tips for selling your best story ideas and marketing yourself as an indispensable writer.

    Journalists explain how freelancers can add audio, video to boost pitches – and income
    Tips on building your multimedia skills and getting the most from your equipment

    Success in the trades and writing for a professional audience
    Notes from a panel discussion at Health Journalism 2015.

    Webcast: Tips for pitching to top publications
    Find out what it takes to break into top-tier publications.

    What do editors want from freelancers? #ahcj14
    Pitching tips from editors at Health Journalism 2014.

    How to query AARP publications (Betsy Agnvall presentation)
    From ‘Freelancers: Editors give the inside story’ panel at Health Journalism 2014.

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

    Freelancers get 8 tips on selling related stories to multiple markets
    Panelists offered eight tips for turning a story idea into multiple articles for various publications.

    6 tips to find success writing for trade publications
    Writing for a professional audience requires a familiarity with the lingo and an understanding of the larger context of developments in a particular field.

    Pitches That Work (and Some That Don't) (David Corcoran presentation)
    From ‘Freelancers: Editors give the inside story’ panel at Health Journalism 2014.

    10 Ways to Get Published - Faster (Tyghe Trimble presentation)
    From ‘Freelancers: Editors give the inside story’ panel at Health Journalism 2014.

    Webcast: Beyond the Basics of Pitching: Becoming That Dream Writer
    Craft a memorable pitch and get that assignment.

    Freelance: Ideas that editors buy (David Corcoran presentation)
    Guidelines and pitch suggestions from Health Journalism 2013.

    Webcast: Secrets of pitching
    Tip, tricks and insights into editors’ minds.

    Pitches that are a hit with editors
    Advice on making successful pitches from Health Journalism 2012.

    Health Journalism 2011 offered several sessions focused on the needs of freelancers
    Story ideas, tips and tricks targeted to freelancers. From Health Journalism 2011.

     

  • Contracts

    On every assignment, freelancers are operating under a contract of some kind. Sometimes the terms of the contract are committed to paper and signed by both sides. Often there is no signed agreement. Either way, it’s vitally important to know how to protect yourself from onerous requirements, unfair terms and unreasonable rates. In this section, experienced freelancers explain how to negotiate fair contract terms, how to price for value, and how to understand your liability exposure.

    FEATURED RESOURCES

    Tips for freelancers to unleash their inner entrepreneur
    Two top freelancers at Health Journalism 2018 – Linda Marsa and Heather Boerner – and attorney Ruth Carter offered a series of great tips to help you start thinking of your freelance work as a real business … and make it pay like one.

    Freelance: The best career hacks
    A number of independent journalists – on a panel and in the audience – shared their best tools and advice for being a successful freelancer. Advice includes tools and software to use, best networking practices, how to be businesslike and building your brand.

    For freelancers, ‘Contracts 101′ was important session at #ahcj14
    Info from Health Journalism 2014 on indemnity clauses, liability exposure, and fees.

    Contracts & Costs … and pricing for Value (Greg Smith presentation)
    Presentation from ‘Contracts 101’ panel at Health Journalism 2014.

    Keys to negotiating fair contracts
    Tips for handling unfair clauses and requirements. 

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

    National Writers’ Union
    Find a contract advisor.

    How to Deal with Warranty and Indemnification Clauses
    Blog post from Writers and Editors.

    Copyright, work for hire, and other rights issues
    Blog post from Writers and Editors.

    Copyright forms
    Forms for filing copyrights. From the U.S. Library of Congress.

    8 Contract Provisions Every Freelancer Should Know
    From Freelancers Union.

    Sample Contract: Freelance Writer’s Contract
    From Columbia University Law School.

  • Insurance

    Being a successful freelancer means you are running your own business, and in that business you may want insurance to cover health care expenses, liability exposure and a short- or long-term disability. In this section learn how to ensure you are covered for liability exposure and how to find low-cost health insurance.

    FEATURED RESOURCES

    Freelance: The best career hacks
    A number of independent journalists – on a panel and in the audience – shared their best tools and advice for being a successful freelancer. Advice includes tools and software to use, best networking practices, how to be businesslike and building your brand.

    For freelancers, ‘Contracts 101′ was important session at #ahcj14
    Info from Health Journalism 2014 on insurance, indemnity clauses and liability exposure.

    Freelancers on the hunt for health insurance
    Choices and pitfalls for freelancers scoping out insurance options.

    Focus on freelancing: Tips for buying liability insurance
    Exploring affordable options for liability insurance.

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

    Making sure you're covered for liability
    Are you protected against libel litigation?

    NerdWallet: Affordable Health Insurance for Freelance Writers
    Guide to finding health insurance for freelancers.

    Health Insurance Information for Freelancers
    From the Society of Environmental Journalists.

    Health Insurance for Writers
    List of insurance providers from PEN America.

    Insurance for Freelance Journalists
    Tips and policy options for international journalists. From Reporters Without Borders.

    Writers’ Emergency Assistance Fund
    From the American Society of Journalists and Authors.


     

  • Finance & business plans

    Succeeding as a freelancer involves more than being an accomplished journalist. You also need to run the financial and business side of your enterprise with some level of skill and expertise. In this section, learn how to succeed in managing those aspects of your operation, including and how to write a business plan, how to set and reach your financial goals and how to make sure your work provides financial security for you and your family.

    FEATURED RESOURCES

    Tips for freelancers to unleash their inner entrepreneur
    Two top freelancers at Health Journalism 2018 – Linda Marsa and Heather Boerner – and attorney Ruth Carter offered a series of great tips to help you start thinking of your freelance work as a real business … and make it pay like one.

    Freelance: The best career hacks
    A number of independent journalists – on a panel and in the audience – shared their best tools and advice for being a successful freelancer. Advice includes tools and software to use, best networking practices, how to be businesslike and building your brand.

    Tools and apps for freelancers
    This collection of resources for freelancers, presented at Health Journalism 2016, includes tools for tracking time, organizing, running a business, transcription and more.

    Setting & Hitting Your Goals For Your Freelance Business (Ilise Benun presentation)
    From "Freelance: Road to security" panel at Health Journalism 2013.

    Planning for Success: Mapping Freelance Success Through Business Models and Business Plan [PDF]:
    Panel of independent journalists at Health Journalism 2013.

    A survival guide for brain and bank account [PDF]
    Twelve tips from independent journalist Stephanie Friedhoff.

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

    Reporters get the inside story on reader-supported journalism
    Crowdfunding, when reporters collect payments from readers, offers another way for journalists to get paid.

    Freelance: Managing workflow and workload
    How to adapt your workload and responsibilities to your lifestyle.

    Freelance: Mapping successful business plans and models
    Common themes in freelance financial success.

    How to Write a Business Plan for a Freelance Writer
    Freelance planning from a business perspective.

    Financial Management Tips for Freelancers
    From DesignM.ag.

    Budgeting Your Freelance Income
    Tips on creating budgets and assessing income. From Financial Highway.

    Tax deductions for the self-employed freelance writer
    A list of popular freelance writeoffs. From Examiner.com.
     

  • Networking & branding

    Once you become a freelance writer or editor, you need to market yourself. That means you need to know how to network so that you can spread the word to potential clients about you and your brand. Among the resources you’ll find in this section are those on how to use social media to expand your reach, best practices for blogging and how to use fellowships to advance your career.

    FEATURED RESOURCES

    Freelancers learn to maximize social media skills
    Attendees at Health Journalism 2018 learned how to up their social media game from those who do it well — and how to avoid potential problems — at the “Freelance: Flex your social media muscle” session.

    Tips for freelancers to unleash their inner entrepreneur
    Two top freelancers at Health Journalism 2018 – Linda Marsa and Heather Boerner – and attorney Ruth Carter offered a series of great tips to help you start thinking of your freelance work as a real business … and make it pay like one.

    Freelance: The best career hacks
    A number of independent journalists – on a panel and in the audience – shared their best tools and advice for being a successful freelancer. Advice includes tools and software to use, best networking practices, how to be businesslike and building your brand.

    Cinematic techniques can add pop to stories, says Pulitzer winner
    Jacqui Banaszynski offers tips on using the techniques from television and movies to make your stories stand out.

    Using smartphones and DSLRs to tell stories
    Insights on some tools, techniques to offer multimedia content to clients.

    Tools and apps for freelancers
    This collection of resources for freelancers, presented at Health Journalism 2016, includes tools for tracking time, organizing, running a business, transcription and more.

    Directory of independent journalists
    Find a freelancer: Members can opt to be listed in a searchable membership directory that is available only to current AHCJ members.

    The reluctant freelancer
    Tips for rebranding and marketing yourself in an uncertain economy.

    ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

    Fact-checking your freelance stories
    Strategies to make sure you turn in error-free stories and prepare them for a publication's fact checkers.

    Webcast: Using fellowships to advance your freelance career
    Fellowships allow freelancers to advance their career goals while still paying the bills.

    Fellowships, Internships, Training & Grants
    Career development opportunities, AHCJ and non-AHCJ.

    Best practices in blogging and social media
    Promotion and relationship-building for freelancers.

    Freelancing: Minimizing isolation, maximizing networking
    Building contacts and marketing.

    Twitter for health journalists
    A primer on the popular service and how to make it work for you.

    Multimedia and social networking for health journalists
    Resources for networking and branding that go beyond the basics.

    Online technology tip sheet
    These links will help you learn more about social networking software and sites.

    Eight months later, freelancer still generating story ideas from fellowship

     

  • Freelance market guide

    Our Market Guide is meant to be a growing site for AHCJ’s freelancers to find out what assigning editors at specific outlets are looking for from writers. These editors have been kind enough to share the mission of their outlets and set some parameters for pitching ideas. Please follow their guidance closely.


    MedShadow is looking for writers who agree with what MedShadow is about: helping people understand the risks and benefits of medications, that there are often side effects and that there can be alternatives. They report on the downside of medications and he wants writers who have solutions to the downsides.  See the market guide...
     


    Undark’s audience is college-educated Americans who want to know how science intersects – and sometimes collides – with politics, economics and culture. The relatively young publication is on the web and has a regular need for freelance work: about five to six smaller pieces per week and one long-form article each month. See the market guide...
     


    Nature Medicine's readership is diverse. Reader interests range from somebody working on DNA sequences and patents, or are involved in advocacy on a particular illness. The main readership includes primarily biomedical researchers, physicians, and patient groups. The magazine has done specials with political/policy angles and they’ve known people in D.C. who have kept tabs on policy-oriented stories. See the market guide...
     


    Manage Care Magazine's core audience is medical directors at payers and provider organization. Although the readership is knowledgeable, the stories should be written so they are accessible to a wider audience and frame the big picture. The stories should focus on the intersection of business and clinical care. Freelancers write for the monthly print publication and the website. See the market guide...
     


    Cosmopolitan (U.S. edition), the highest-circulation magazine in the world—and the best-selling magazine on college campuses—puts a priority on health coverage, said Sara Austin, senior deputy editor. And to good effect: It scored a 2014 National Magazine Award for its 12-page “Your Cosmo Guide to Contraception.” See the market guide...
     


    Discover magazine is a publication educating readers on the newest issues in science, medicine and technology. Its readership is likely individuals in their early 40s looking for cutting-edge information. One thing that differentiates Discover from other science publications is its format: the stories are not so much news focused as they are narrative. See the market guide...
     


    You don’t have to be a mother to write for Family Circle, but you do have to be comfortable speaking to this demographic because it is their main focus. It’s a family service magazine aiming to help mothers raise “happy, healthy families.” See the market guide...
     


    The Food and Environment Reporting Network, FERN, is an independent, nonprofit news organization that fosters investigative reporting. Instead of actually publishing material, the group partners with other newspapers, magazines and websites to get reporters’ pieces published. See the market guide...
     


    Newsweek, is a broad-based newsweekly that looks for stories that appeal to a wide and relatively affluent audience. It’s demographics are college-educated, skewed male (70 percent), ages 22 to 55 and nearly half have incomes over $100,000 annually. See the market guide...
     


    During a time when many health sections are closing down or shrinking, The Philadelphia Inquirer has expanded this section of its coverage. In 2013, it began producing an eight-page Sunday Health Section and broadened its news offerings online. And when a news hole expands, so does an organization’s need for writers. See the market guide...
     


    Spirituality & Health is a publication that explores myriad topics under both of these subjects including alternative health, wellness, sexuality, medical ethics, science, the environment and where health intersects with faith and spirituality. The magazine, owned by Spirituality & Health Media, LLC, has a target audience, mostly women over the age of 35, who are already familiar with the world of spirituality and alternative health. See the market guide...
     

Freelancing news — from Covering Health