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'Freelance Survival': Get Tips from Successful Journos

April 26 kicks off practical talks on how to make it as a freelance journalist.

By Colleen Kimmett 20 Apr 2011 | TheTyee.ca

Colleen Kimmett writes for the Tyee Solutions Society about food and sustainability and for other publications as well.

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Here at The Tyee, we understand that being a freelance writer is one of the toughest jobs out there. The dwindling assignments, the crappy pay, the under-appreciation, the go-it-alone isolation...

We also believe it can be one of the most important and exciting jobs in the world, and we know there are lots of talented people out there with great stories to tell.

Which is why we're happy to launch Freelance Survival, a series of talks sponsored by The Tyee that will offer timely, relevant and practical advice on the business of being a freelancer in a rapidly changing media landscape.

We begin with Freelancers on Freelancing (April 26 at the W2 Storyeum), a panel of four smart and successful journalists who will talk about honing their craft (and making a living) as freelancers. Up for discussion are topics like pay rates, contract negotiation, landing book deals, pitching editors and dealing with the ups and downs of being your own boss. It promises to be a lively, informative and informal discussion whether you are just trying to break into journalism or have some experience under your belt.

The panel takes place next Tuesday, April 26 at the W2 Storyeum in downtown Vancouver from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available in advance here.

Moderated by yours truly, the panelists include:

Chris Wood, a former Maclean's editor and correspondent, has written for many publications, including The Globe and Mail, The Financial Post, and The Walrus. He won two Gold National Magazine Awards for his work on water and one of his most recent books, Dry Spring, The Coming Water Crisis of North America, followed up on work that he did in 2006 as one of the first winners of a Tyee Fellowship Fund for Investigative and Solutions-oriented Reporting.

Erin Millar is a journalist, editor, author and photographer who lives in Vancouver. She was a founding editor of Maclean's On Campus and recently co-authored with husband Ben Coli The Canadian Campus Companion: Everything a student needs to know about going to college and university in Canada. Millar has written for Reader's Digest, BC Business, The Walrus and others.

Vanessa Richmond, a former high school English teacher (and Tyee managing editor), writes about pop culture, beauty, sex, celebrity and gender for online, print and broadcast. Richmond penned the Schlock and Awe column on The Tyee and now regularly appears on CKNW's Week in Pop Culture and Global TV's Morning News.

Claudia Kwan is a journalist who covers hard news, dining, design and travel for outlets like Global BC, The Vancouver Sun and CBC Radio, as well as various food and beverage publications. She blogs about her adventures -- which most recently include judging a cooking competition -- as a "polymediathlete" here.

Consider this panel to be a primer on some of the topics we'll cover in-depth in the Freelance Survival series, hosted by the W2 Community Media Arts Centre and sponsored by the UBC School of Journalism, the Canadian Freelance Union (CEP Local 2040), and the Professional Writers' Association of Canada.

More details on upcoming events, including Freelance Finance (tax tips to keep from frantically searching for receipts and invoices this time next year) and Contract and Copyright, will be posted soon.  [Tyee]

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