Setting up your own email

Setting up your own email is easy and makes you look like a professional.

Although there are lots of free email services like Gmail, Windows Live and Yahoo!, setting up a domain name and customised email address is much easier than it sounds and can be done by anyone who has a moderate level of computer literacy. If you can follow instructions, type and use a mouse – you can set up your own email.

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Thoroughness and Fact Checking

Facts are a journalist’s stock in trade. Getting them right is key to your credibility. So what happens when you make a mistake?

Facts are a journalist’s stock in trade. Getting them right is key to your credibility. So what happens when you make a mistake?

Earlier this week I attended a product launch event. It was a spectacular launch held in a proper theatre, with the string section from an orchestra, celebrity host and currently popular artist doing a song. I was flown in for the event.

The whole thing took about two and a half hours. To get there, my day started at 5.00am with a drive to the airport, flight and cab to the event. By the time it was over, I headed back to the airport and sat in the lounge to quickly look at the new product. I only had about 20 minutes but I noticed something that hadn’t been mentioned at the launch.

In my rush, what I had thought was something previously unmentioned was actually a mistake on my part. However, as it was unexpected, I called the vendor’s local representatives and asked if this was a feature of the device. They did some quick checking and confirmed that this was an important new feature.

So I made an error and the “fact” was confirmed as “correct” by a trustworthy source. I wrote the story and it was published online. I did note in my story that I hadn’t tested the feature.

These sorts of errors are likely to become more common. Not because journalists are less competent but because we live is a world of short news cycles, short attentions spans and limited resources for validating information.

I’m fortunate that most of the work I do is not news-related. So I usually have time to thoroughly test and check my work before submitting it to my editor. But with news, it’s often a race and that sort of time isn’t available. Coupled with my need to get on a plane, I rushed, made a mistake, got some bad information and ended up publishing with an error.

Credibility is critical for a successful freelancer. And getting the facts right is a core competency for a journalist. Next time, I’ll be more thorough and won’t push something out until I’m 100% certain.

The Business of Freelancing

The business of freelancing is hard work. I recently presented on this topic to my peers.

This afternoon, I gave a presentation titled “Taking Care of Business – Tools and Tech for Running your Freelance Business” at the annual 2012 Freelance Conference. The crowd was great and asked some incisive questions. Freelancing is a tough gig and I’d never have made a success of it without taking what others shared with me. this was a chance for me to give something to my freelancing comrades.

Once of the challenges of such a talk – I only had 45 minutes including question time – is to cover such a broad topic and do each part justice. I’m hoping to organise a longer version – perhaps a half or full day seminar on the business of freelancing – in the near future. If you’re interested let me know.

However, here’s my slide deck from today. Naturally, it’s not the same when you just look at the slides without the rest of my presentation. I’ve added a couple of extra slides here to add some extra information.

Time Wasting Clients

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzMaXheRVH0

Hitting deadlines can be challenging when the client doesn’t help.

Some clients expect you to be able hit short deadlines even though they delay sending you important information and are clearly out of their depth when it comes to managing time and organising a project. But time wasting clients cost you money.

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New media equals new opportunities

Many freelancers complain about the global economy and new media. Guest writer Keeta Nova provides some guidance through the maze.

New media offers new opportunities for journalists and freelance writers. Technology has changed the world, and allows us to think and communicate in different ways. For journalists, this means keeping up with new communication methods and, without compromising your professional integrity, adapting to new and spontaneous media forms, like blogging and social media.

Image credit: Grant Robertson

Traditional print media has a history of protocols and expectations that ensures the communication of quality and reliable information, and journalists can easily sink into comfortable patterns that have been proven with time. New media and the Internet can often be overwhelming to established journalists, as it requires them to adapt and forgive some of those well respected practises they took so long to develop.

But new doesn’t mean poor quality. New doesn’t mean transient, and it certainly doesn’t mean a lowering of professional standards or respect. Sure there are countless websites filled with irrelevant dribble, some just to stand attractive to search engines, and some only holding a vague resemblance to the English language. But as a journalist or professional writer,  you don’t need to join them. Hold your own standards high, because there are plenty of online outlets who will take you on, and give you opportunities to explore your areas of specialty in new and innovative ways – without sacrificing the quality of your work.

Radio is a time-proven traditional media format that promotes intimate communication, and podcasts take on the same objectives. The only difference is that they are broadcast on the Internet and can target niche audiences. If you have recently worked on a project through traditional media, transfer the same message into audio format. Minimal technical equipment is required, and using basic research skills you can find a podcast publisher that attains both high levels of traffic and a reputation for quality broadcasts.

Blogging

The debate over a blogger being a journalist won’t die out soon, however what do you call a journalist who blogs? Does a journalist instantly lose their integrity when they publish online and explore the issues that interest them both personally and professionally?

Thousands of high-profile journalists around the world keep their own blogs for a variety of reasons, including self-expression, a break from constrictive corporate rules, or simply to get down and dirty with the raw issues that are of importance to them.

While professional blogging certainly doesn’t pay the high rates of printed media, it often won’t take you as long. You can also keep your own blog and use this as a networking tool to interact with other professionals, and score new and diverse projects online.

Information Products

Corporate work allows for journalists to transfer their skills into the production of annual reports, internal magazines for clients and colleagues, online web systems and innovative promotional products.

Corporate doesn’t always mean big, ugly and corrupt. You can also check out charities you are passionate about, the publications they produce in print and online, and also work with other professionals in creative areas like graphic design, film and animation.

Small and boutique creative studios are producing impressive and alternative products like wall calendars, coffee table books, and information wall art. These jobs probably weren’t around 40 years ago, but they certainly are now. They just aren’t advertised. You need to open your mind, talk to people outside your industry and work out ways to integrate and expose your skills.

Social Media

People are still learning how to use social media. There are plenty of public mistakes, and plenty of anti-social profiles that seem to forget the essence of social media, is actually interacting. As a freelancer, you can make your own rules, but just don’t forget the basic factors of communication and publishing. Know your audience, write for them, check your facts and invite a response.

If you are an established journalist you will naturally attract enthusiastic followers who will be eager for some insight and entertainment. Just take some time to work out your own objectives, and what you’d like to achieve through social media. You have the power, because this time you are the publisher, and your publications are instant.

Get creative. Think ahead.

Ultimately, a journalist is responsible for the accurate and timely communication of news, facts and relevant information. Keep these objectives in mind, but also open your mind, to consider the emerging platforms available to your profession.

Keeta Nova is a journalist, copywriter and content strategist from Sydney, Australia. She helps small businesses, entrepreneurs, and innovative publishers create impressive printed and multimedia content. Keeta Nova is the editor of Brilicious Lifestyle Magazine, sports reporter for Cornerman Magazine,news and blog, and contributor to No Bull Business Deals Magazine.