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 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 […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

3 Quick Online Portfolio Solutions

3 Quick Online Portfolio Solutions

Once upon a time, in a decade long, long ago, I hand coded my own writer website. To save money. (You’ve probably already heard that time is money, but apparently I hadn’t.) Back then, the site looked pretty good–for somebody who did it via HTML for Dummies. Problem was that I forgot to anticipate that […]

Introducing the Modern Journalist Toolkit

Introducing the Modern Journalist Toolkit

Welcome to the Modern Journalist Toolkit, an ongoing series that looks at new approaches and methods to support reporting and writing. Expect to see a fair amount of technology—some of the most frequent questions I get are about what apps and tools I use—but also new attitudes and strategies that make sense in the 21st […]

Create Your Ultimate Editorial Contact List

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Create Your Ultimate Editorial Contact List

>>Download your free copy of my new eguide, Create Your Ultimate Editorial Contact List. Are you looking for new markets? Rather, markets that pay well, treat writers decently, and assign articles on topics of interest to you? I’ve been asked more than once by freelance writers where to find a current, master list of assigning […]

2015’s best video about writing and breakthroughs

This video was filmed in 2013, but it has new resonance in 2015, which seems to have been the Year of Ta-Nehisi Coates. For every (frustrated) writer who wants an early draft to be their best, consider that this MacArthur Genius also never gets that “perfect thing” in his head out on to paper. Perseverance […]

Keep calm and follow up

Keep calm and follow up

A fellow writer asked for the best piece of advice I had for freelancers. Follow up, follow up, follow up.  As soon as I send something (a story pitch, a request for an interview, whatever), I schedule the follow ups on my calendar. This diffuses any emotional reaction to nonresponse/silence, and keeps things moving along on schedule. […]

3 ways to become a better writer

3 ways to become a better writer

On the last morning of a silent meditation retreat, my teacher announced that he would tell us the three most important things about continuing a meditation practice at home. For a week, we had had a respite from daily life: no talking, no internet, no personal sagas, no decisions about what to do next. The normal […]

Which comes first, the story or the market?

Which comes first, the story or the market?

Looking for story ideas first and then scrambling for market suggestions often doesn’t work out in the long run. It likely took me a while to figure this out because that method is so common amongst freelance writers that it appears as if it’s the way things are done. Freelance forums typically have a bunch […]