Favorite freelance writer resources

Favorite freelance writer resources

I’m happy to share these resources with you: my affiliate-free (read: no kickback, just links to things I use and like) list of favorite tools, apps, and programs; a few downloadable guides; and the most popular blog posts. STUFF I USE, LIKE, AND RECOMMEND FOR FREELANCE WRITERS The tools, programs, apps, services, subscriptions, and other […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 18: How to leave a conference full of freelance article ideas (but not tote bags full of brochures)

Modern Journalist Toolkit 18: How to leave a conference full of freelance article ideas (but not tote bags full of brochures)

The first time I went to a large trade show as a freelance writer, I wandered around, mindlessly stuffing free tote bags full of every single brochure and pamphlet on display. When I got home I was completely overwhelmed. I had no idea how to coax those stacks of paper (most of which was a […]

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 […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Vanity searches and Danzy Senna

Whenever Google finds somebody with my name (such as me, or the real estate agent, or the OB/GYN, or the Chicago English lecturer) doing something new, a message alert pops up. The main purpose of this is to catch new articles when they are published online. Sometimes vanity searches turn up reprints or references, such […]

Gaggle or gang?

Posted in animals, editing

On land, a gaggle or flock. In flight, a skein or team. When flying closely together, a plump. But when sizing up passersby (not to mention leaving untenable amounts of green poop), the new collective noun for geese should be a gang.