Modern Journalist Toolkit 17/Digital nomad: Freelancing on the road

Modern Journalist Toolkit 17/Digital nomad: Freelancing on the road

When I saw this VW van in California a few weeks ago, I thought immediately about a recent article about #vanlife. Somebody who thought she could do her job remotely was surprised to find out that she couldn’t work on her computer during a bumpy ride, nor connect for calls in the middle of a […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 15: For freelancers who are worth the money

Modern Journalist Toolkit 15: For freelancers who are worth the money

When I started freelancing, I was 100% DIY. Pitching, researching, writing, editing–that was me. Tech support, print cartridge buyer, office cleaner–that was me too. One of the tricky things about making a good living as a freelance writer is getting a feel for what to do yourself and where to spend–or invest–time and money. Some […]

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! […]

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 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 […]

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 […]

Modern Journalist Toolkit 2: Getting paid electronically

Modern Journalist Toolkit 2: Getting paid electronically

It continually surprises me that in the United States, one of the most technologically advanced countries, it’s still a widespread practice to send paper checks to freelance writers. This is true even at companies that have been paying staff via direct deposit for a decade. In most other countries, electronic funds transfers are secure and […]

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 […]