Social media for journalists: Part three – Getting work, getting paid and wasting time


And now the end of my presentation on social media for journalists is near. How did I ever hope to cram this lot into 30 minutes and take questions as well? Daftoid. At least you social media for journalists bloggingknow when you book me you get your money’s worth.

Anyway, make sure you read part one of social media for journalists, which is an introduction to Twitter. And part two is all about LinkedIn and Facebook and some cool forums that’ll help you get writing work.

Here in part three we’re looking at what kind of social media work is available for journalists, what you might expect to get paid and how not to let all this stuff suck up more time than it’s worth.

Social media work for journalists

  • This could be tweeting or blogging on behalf of a client
    Essentially, it’s the new copywriting, and much more dynamic than the old stuff. Could be worth suggesting to clients you’ve already written web copy for.
  • Charge for time rather than per word
    Per word, the rates start to look pretty poor, so when quoting think in terms of what the client wants and how long that’ll take you. Also take into consideration how much regular work can be guaranteed – £50 per 350 word blog post isn’t great, but if you can finish it in under an hour and do 10 a week, it all adds up.
  • An hour a day can add up to a lot more
    Typically, you might be asked to look after a Twitter feed for an hour a day, but any job which extends across the week will inevitably take up more mental space than that. Be realistic about what you commit to, and how that fits in with the other work you’re doing.
  • Other journos are charging from £300/day, or from £25/hour for social media work
    I did a mini survey and these figures were mentioned most commonly. So as a guide, you’re thinking in terms of your copywriting daily rate.
  • Clients may wish to pay a lot less!
    This is a brand new area of work, so the ‘going rate’ is still under negotiation. There will be clients who do not recognise that this is a skilled job for a writer and will expect to pay you in buttons. Whether or not you take those buttons is up to you, but remember that part of progressing as a writer is, on occasion, turning work down.



Procrastinators Anonymous!
I find that one of the biggest factors that puts people off social media is the fear that it will suck up too much of their time. And yet if you talk to people who appear to tweet a lot, most of them say it actually takes up very little of their day. I guess we notice when people are speaking much more than when they’re silent. So how much of a problem is procrastination really?

  • We all do it and it’s normal
    I think sometimes we have a vision of the Uber Freelancer, who’s 100% productive all day and never wastes time. I’ve been coaching journalists for over 10 years and I don’t think this person exists. Some of the people who seem the most productive are also the most guilt-ridden about their tendency to procrastinate. If you’re hitting your deadlines, you probably don’t have a problem.
  • Turn off the internet
    If you really need to crack on with no distractions, this is the hardcore solution. Unplug your broadband and you’ll instantly become more productive.
  • Social media can be a stress reliever
    When you’ve been concentrating hard on writing, your mind needs a rest so it can chew on all you’ve thrown at it. This is where Twitter chit chat will see you right.
  • Use a phone or computer alarm to remind you to get back to work
    I have a digital watch that bleeps on the hour – usually leading to me shouting Holy Crap, how did it get to be 2pm? Tricks like this are surprisingly effective at pulling you back when you’ve gone deep into Land of Faff.
  • The cup of tea test
    Sometimes self employed people can be the worst bosses of all. Allow yourself a teabreak, and make that your ‘farting about on the internet’ time. So the rule is: cup of tea on the table, guff on the laptop. Tea cold or cup empty = crack on. Sprinkle in a few loo breaks and you’ve got yourself a very productive working day.


Click here for more information about hiring Joanne Mallon as your media career coach 

image credit: Mike Licht,

UPDATE – April 2015

Since I wrote these posts on social media for journalists, I went on to write a book about using Twitter (and other social media) for journalists and writers. Social Media for Writers has now been published and is attracting some great reviews – click on the image to see them for yourself.