Modern Journalist Toolkit 14: Saving and organizing clips

Modern Journalist Toolkit 14: Saving and organizing clips

Way back in the day, our freelance ancestors clipped their articles out of paper magazines and newspapers with scissors, and made photocopies to send to editors. They sent the clips (or cuttings) with a system called snail mail. It cost money and it took days–many thousands of minutes longer than the emails and links we […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 13: Typos in Print

Modern Journalist Toolkit 13: Typos in Print

I allow plenty of time for Qs and As when teaching a class, leading a challenge, or working with a freelance writer during one-on-one coaching. But outside of these structures, I am largely working on my own writing. I thought it might be useful if I started answering some of the questions you email me […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 12: What’s in my bag

Modern Journalist Toolkit 12: What’s in my bag

When you’re out on a freelance writing assignment, you want to find a good balance between bringing everything you might need and packing light. I normally like to keep all my gear in a regular backpack. Some of you may disagree, and opt for something that is more stylish or that more plainly says, “Hey! […]

She blinded me with science

She blinded me with science

Despite my lack of technical training, I’ve interviewed a fair number of scientists. Right at the start of our conversation, I tell them that I don’t have a science background, and ask them to please explain things to me in layperson’s terms. Usually they get it that I’m not a colleague and keep things simple; […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 11: Freelancing in the era of Trump with Ray Joseph

Modern Journalist Toolkit 11: Freelancing in the era of Trump with Ray Joseph

“Alternative facts.” Real-time verification. Journalists arrested or alienated when covering the president. If the 45th U.S. president is in power for four years, we have 47 months to go. What does Donald Trump mean for us as freelance writers? Some important insights about working in the new now come from those who have worked in […]

Setting 2017 freelance writer goals

Setting 2017 freelance writer goals

If you’ve already signed up for the 2017 goal-setting challenge for freelance writers, watch the video below to get yourself ready. Otherwise you can click here to register for the goal-setting challenge: www.rebeccalweber.com/2017goals If you’re not feeling like looking back at 2016, scroll below to read about my own resistance to this exercise. When it […]

Writers, what does 2017 have in store for you?

Press play to take a screenshot and find out. Happy new year! 2017 GOAL-SETTING CHALLENGE for FREELANCE WRITERS Join me in January when I share my annual process with freelance writers. Daily prompts (emails and videos) will help expand and refine your vision of writing success. + Clarify writing goals + Strategize your plan + […]

7 most popular posts of 2016

7 most popular posts of 2016

Would you be surprised to hear that this Backstory blog was originally conceived of as a place to post comics about what goes on behind the scenes when writing articles? A few years ago, I was not imagining that I would be making videos, teaching freelance writers how to pitch, leading goal-planning challenges, or even […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 10: Color Me Quick

Modern Journalist Toolkit 10: Color Me Quick

One antidote to overresearching, overreporting, overthinking, and overwriting is a really tight deadline. This video offers some takeaway tips on quick reporting in the field: For many freelancers, breaking news is part of a mix that keeps things fresh and exciting. For writers who are used to working in isolation, there’s a satisfying sense of […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 9: Long-distance clients and time zones

Modern Journalist Toolkit 9: Long-distance clients and time zones

Choosing to work with far-flung freelance clients typically requires two schedule modifications. The first is a flexible attitude, and the other is a system to manage the different time zones. Flexibility with your schedule Your existing commitments may mean that you can’t or don’t want to work in the mornings, evenings, weekends, local holidays, etc. If you […]

“Just” an interview vs. THE interview

“Just” an interview vs. THE interview

During a very long delay at the Atlanta airport, way back when, I sat on the floor and read my first longform interview in Rolling Stone magazine. It was my foray into reading adult publications. I was enthralled by the in-depth conversations about the creative process, life on the road, and the surprisingly unglamorous backstories […]

The next round of Freelance Writer Bootcamp is on me (for one of you)

The next round of Freelance Writer Bootcamp is on me (for one of you)

I’m offering a full scholarship for one person to attend the next round of Freelance Writer Bootcamp. That person could be you! This six-week ecourse is great both for writers just starting as freelancers and looking to pitch and sell their first story, as well as for those with many years of experience who are […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 8: Saving time with sourcing services

Modern Journalist Toolkit 8: Saving time with sourcing services

So tell me, are you that incredibly well-connected writer who always knows the savvy, witty person to contact for insight and comment on every story, regardless of topic or audience? Is your contacts list completely up-to-date? Does everyone immediately take your call, or respond within minutes to your messages? No? Me neither. But I am […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 7: Three-minute marketing makeover

Modern Journalist Toolkit 7: Three-minute marketing makeover

The humble email signature is one of the overlooked workhorses of your marketing efforts as a freelance writer. You are more likely focusing on the brilliant idea you’re developing and pitching, but the contact details you provide give you an opportunity to come across as thoughtful and professional—or not. In the worst-case scenario, your signature […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 6: Yusuf Omar on Reporting with Snapchat

Modern Journalist Toolkit 6: Yusuf Omar on Reporting with Snapchat

Yusuf Omar is a cell-phone trailblazer. He finds unconventional uses for apps like Snapchat, Facebook Live, and 360 video for telling serious news stories, most of which are viewed on small screens. Omar is the new mobile editor at the Hindustan Times, one of India’s largest English newspapers, with a print circulation of more than […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 5: Taking Notes & Recording Interviews

Modern Journalist Toolkit 5: Taking Notes & Recording Interviews

I put fresh batteries into my tape recorder shortly before I hopped on the DC Metro for my interview with Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland. I’d pulled a personal favor with somebody who in turn asked for a favor to get me the private face time, and I’d done all my due diligence […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 4: How to Make a Phone Call

Modern Journalist Toolkit 4: How to Make a Phone Call

Right after I finished this video about making phone calls, my cell phone company announced that it is raising its rates by 40 percent. I’m unlikely to get around such a major price hike by relying on one of the myriad phone apps I’ve tried, such as WhatsApp, Skype, and Viber. They have a variety […]

Pay Me!

Pay Me!

In a strange twist of my-fish-that-got-away-was-bigger-than-yours, freelance writers sometimes like to play the game of my-deadbeat-client-owes-me-more-than-yours. Who said bigger was better? While occasional late payers are inevitable, I’ve had very few over the years, even though I’ve written for many clients all over the world. Do you want to know the steps I take to […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 3: Home Office Hacks for Writers

Modern Journalist Toolkit 3: Home Office Hacks for Writers

Like most freelancers these days, my office is where my laptop and cell phone are. I do well with a home office/out of the office split. At home, I have lunch the way I like it, and a puppy who likes to go for mid-morning walks. At a cafe, I have the buzz of people […]

On My Bookshelf: Essential books for writers

On My Bookshelf: Essential books for writers

Feeling meta? Most of my free reading time is spent on high-quality newspapers, magazines, novels, and comics, all of which can be absorbing and transformative. But when the very best writers write about writing, it’s another experience altogether. These books have all earned a permanent place in my personal library.   “Several Short Sentences About […]