Freelance Reporting Resources✨

Taylor Moore / @taylormooresays / taylorgmoore.co / taylorgm27@gmail.com

Resources 🗃️

  • Study Hall: Community of 3,500+ freelance journalists; membership comes with access to listserv, Slack, weekly newsletters with media news and pitch calls

Contracts & Money 🤑

  • Adding to this, you can also negotiate for a kill fee (what you’ll be paid if the story doesn’t publish, for whatever reason) or for a higher kill fee. 50% is considered industry standard, but if you want to shoot for 100%, go for it.

Pitching 📨

  • Pitching advice from writers:
  • RIP to Deadspin and The Outline, both of whom had examples of pitches that worked. Pacific Standard also offered a clear sense of what stories they wanted and didn’t want.

Sources 🗣️

  • Help a Reporter Out: Request expert sources via newsletter sent multiple times a day; must have an outlet lined up to post

Jobs 💻

Tools 📝

  • Muckrack, Contently, Journo Portfolio: Portfolio sites that can archive your work automatically or by uploading links; no design skills required
  • Squarespace, Wordpress, Wix, Google Sites, Weebly, Neutral Spaces, Authory: Customize your own portfolio site
  • Wordpress, Tumblr, Medium: Make your own blog
  • Evernote, OneNote, Scrivener: Organize your drafts, manuscripts, and notes
  • Asana, Trello: Project management tools that some people like to use for keeping record of story ideas, pitches, etc.
  • Wave: Free software for invoicing, expense tracking, and accounting. I don’t use this, but others really like it
  • Freshbooks invoice templates: Free downloadable documents in Word, Excel, PDF, Google Doc, and Google Sheets formats
  • PrintFriendly chrome extension: Save your stories as PDFs or images so that your clips don’t disappear if a site shuts down
  • Study Hall transcriptionist database: Journalists who will transcribe your audio accurately for fair pay (looking at you, Rev)
  • Otter: AI transcription service that lets you transcribe up to 600 minutes of audio per month for free
  • Temi: AI transcription service, more accurate than Otter in my experience, costs $0.25 per minute
  • oTranscribe: Secure, offline platform that lets you play back audio and type your own transcript in one window
  • Feedly: Aggregates news by topic so you don’t have to get your news from Twitter, spiritual successor to Google Reader
  • Pocket: Save articles for future reading (also allows you to bypass some paywalls…)
  • Twlets: Chrome plugin that lets you export a Twitter account’s tweets, followers, people followed, likes, etc.
  • DocHub: Fill out and sign forms (e.g., contracts, W-9s) without dealing with a scanner or Adobe Acrobat
  • Pomodoro: Timer that makes you work in 25-minute increments  
  • Ommwrites: Minimalist word processing software that blocks distractions (minimum price is ~$6)
  • Signal: Encrypted messaging app
  • Protonmail: Encrypted email service
  • Best VPN for journalists (VPN Guru)
  • LastPass: Password manager, can generate long complicated passwords
  • Recorders I have: Sony digital recorder (built-in USB drive, 57 hours of battery life, audio playback options), telephone pick-up microphone (plug headphone jack into recorder mic input, put earpiece in your ear, records both sides of the phone conversation)

How I Work 👩🏽‍💻

  • I track every pitch I send, every story that’s published, and every invoice that’s sent. Here’s a Google Sheets template of what this looks like. Feel free to copy and make your own.
  • I also save every published story as a bookmark in Chrome, save as a PDF with the PrintFriendly chrome extension, and save the link to the document mentioned above
  • Like other freelancers in Study Hall, I have tweeted about the rates I was paid and how much I made freelancing in 2019 and 2020. My offer is still open: if you are a freelancer (especially if you’re a woman, POC, and/or LGTBQ+), please contact me at taylorgm27@gmail.com or on Twitter if you want to know what I was paid for a story or my experience with a publication.

My Pitches That Have Worked 🤷🏽‍♀️

ZORA MAGAZINE - AUTHOR PROFILE

https://zora.medium.com/crazy-rich-asians-will-not-liberate-us-25b947f3deb8

[I introduced myself because I had not worked with this editor before.]

Hi [EDITOR],

My name is Taylor Moore, and I'm an Asian-American journalist based in Chicago. I've written for Literary Hub, Electric Literature, Chicago Review of Books, and other outlets. I saw your call for 2020 pitches and wanted to throw my hat in the ring.

For Zora, I'd love to feature Cathy Park Hong, who is coming out with Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning on 2/25. In this essay collection, the New Republic poetry editor dissects her Korean-American upbringing, the "vague purgatorial" place that Asian-Americans occupy in U.S. cultural consciousness, and how our experiences become flattened in service of politically driven model minority narratives.

I think that this would interest Zora readers because it reflects a moment (one of many to come, I predict) of Asian-American radicalization. There is deep economic and social stratification amongst the many communities and cultures that make up the group, and the gatekeepers of publishing and film are finally starting to see the value of our disaggregated narratives. Not only that, but I also think there is an emerging realization that our continued existence is tied up with advocating for (and with) other communities of color, rather than the American dream of assimilation into whiteness.

In terms of format, I could write this in longform, similar to this interview with Carmen Maria Machado, or as a Q&A. Let me know what you think would work best.

Here are some examples of other work I've done: [XYZ]

Thanks! I look forward to hearing back.

Taylor Moore

---

SOUTH SIDE WEEKLY - FEATURE

https://southsideweekly.com/risk-is-in-the-air-pollution-covid19/

[I already knew this editor and this was part of an existing email chain, so my pitch is less formal. This is also for a local publication, so I did not explain what these neighborhoods are like and what these organizations do.]

I'm interested in writing about how COVID-19 is exacerbating existing issues of air pollution on the South Side. Pollution breaks down your immune system, making you more susceptible to the virus, and existing breathing issues make it even more deadly. There's also the fact that neighborhoods like Little Village, McKinley Park, and Deering are low-income communities where work-from-home jobs are scarce.

I'd like to interview environmental justice organizers from Little Village Environmental Justice Organization, Southeast Environmental Task Force, and Neighbors for Environmental Justice (McKinley Park) to see how they're engaging with coronavirus-related education, mutual aid, and activism, as well as talk to a physician about the effects of COVID-19 on an immuno-compromised community.

Anything I Should Add?

About Me

My name is Taylor Moore, and I’m a journalist in Chicago. I write about cities, arts and culture, development, and politics for publications like The Guardian, VICE, CityLab, Jacobin, Chicago magazine, and the Chicago Reader. I’m secretary-treasurer of AAJA Chicago. If you found this document helpful, please consider donating a few dollars or subscribing to your local news outlets, especially indie media. In Chicago, I love South Side Weekly, the Chicago Reader, and City Bureau.