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 […]

Takeaways from the ASJA writers conference

Takeaways from the ASJA writers conference

A few years ago a freelance writer tried to persuade me to attend the ASJA (American Society of Journalists and Authors) conference in New York City. I had lots of practical reasons why not to go: Me: It’s a 24-hour trip each way for me. I can’t afford to take off the days of the […]

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 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! […]

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 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 […]

Can I quote you on that?

Can I quote you on that?

Quotes aren’t necessary when submitting a query to an editor, which is one reason why including a good one can make a pitch really stand out. A proposal should have the same DNA as the final story. Original reporting brings new insight and life to most articles; even if it’s a given you’ll be speaking […]