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Freelance Writing In 10 Years

Society of Professional JournalistsLast night, along with our own Helen Chang, food writer Caron Golden and I discussed writing, blogging and websites with San Diego’s Society of Professional Journalists. The event was moderated by author and journalist Seth Hettena.

Two things became quite clear to me:

  1. Quality writing, content if you will, will be as needed 10 years from now as it is today.
  2. How that writing will be delivered is likely to be quite different.

I was fascinated as I listened and attempted to answer questions by a group of seasoned journalists. These folks know how to write, and, in general, how to sell their writing either as employees at various news organizations or in the print freelance market.


Their questions broke into general categories:

  1. The tech side of things.
  2. The ethics of web advertising
  3. How to make money on the web

The Tech Side Of Things

Like so many, these folks knew how to use the web for research, general reading, and even entertainment. Most of them were used to their print articles showing up on the web, but most of them didn’t do that for themselves.

They wanted to know who they should host with (I suggested 1and1.com), and what platform we use for blogging (Helen and I both use WordPress; Helen also uses Site Build It and Caron uses Blogger.)

What was apparent to me was that more than a few felt that the technology was, if not beyond them, would require a real stretch. Several wondered if it were worth the effort to even have a web page promoting their own work. You know what my answer was – if you’re a writer and you want to succeed you simply must have a website, however you get it done. Helen, Seth, and Caron agreed.

The Ethics Of Web Advertising

The audience was made up of journalists, real reporters, most of whom had a degree in journalism. They have been steeped in the idea that there is an unbridgeable wall between editorial (what we call content today) and advertising. They wanted to know how, on our blogs, we kept our advertisers and affiliates from polluting what we write.


I said something like I trust myself to make that distinction and the others agreed, although Helen and Caron seemed to feel more caution that I do.

How To Make Money On The Web

Obviously everyone was interested to hear what we had to say since all three of us are making at least some money on the internet. We each made clear in our own way that our resume site, those sites where we hope clients will find us and our services were quite different from the blogs we set up to make money.

Caron’s San Diego Food Stuff and this blog are examples of two writers following a passion and putting that to work in blog that generates some cash. Helen explained she has plans for more than one blog that will generate money (and it will work for her I’m sure) and Seth talked about how his site had started out to sell his book.

Toward the end, Helen urged the audience not to be afraid of the technology, but to jump in. She laughed when she said we don’t know what the tech presenting freelance writing will look like in 10 years. Caron and I agreed.

Of course, our audience already has more than half the freelancing battle won – they already knew how to write and how to make money from their writing. As they learn to use today’s technology to get their writing out to the world, they, like the rest of us, will evolve easily to whatever freelance writing brings in 10 years.

(And yes, there is video for part of this which will get posted as soon as possible.

What do you think freelance writing will be like in 10 years?

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