Jim

Finally, a focus for this dang blog

In Uncategorized on March 13, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Now that we’re serious about launching Smartnews, I finally have a real reason to produce this blog. Before, it was mostly idle scribbling — you know, like most blogs. Now I’ll be providing a little window into our freelance cooperative, tossing out advice, answering pertinent questions, deflecting impertinent questions. It feels good to have a purpose for this thing.

So, what’s this Smartnews of which you speak?

Smartnews is a fledgling freelance journalism cooperative that provides income and access to markets for writers, photographers, artists and editors, and affordable content for publishers.

The idea is to make freelance content directly available to as many publishers as possible. The tough thing about freelance work is not producing the articles, photos, illustrations, etc. — it’s finding buyers and, frankly, milking the work you’ve already done. If you’re a great salesman, that’s terrific; but how many good writers and shooters are also good at sales? How many talented salespeople can report and deliver a news article? It’s a pain in the ass for most.

Isn’t this what wire services and syndicators do?

In a sense, yes. But wires and syndicators have a relatively small number of actual content producers. So if you don’t like that service’s movie reviewer, you’re SOL, buddy. ‘Cos you’re payin’ for it, regardless. Their offerings are limited to the niches they think should be filled. And a lot of very talented professionals are locked out. Plus, wires and syndicates are expensive — you pay for a ton of stuff you’ll never, ever use — and sometimes use long-term contracts to abuse their clients.

Are you crazy? I’m not about to write/shoot/draw on spec!

We’re not asking freelancers to produce material for our market and just hope it sells. Nothing prevents you from doing your job as you already are, or selling to your regular customers. We’re giving you an opportunity to sell again content you still own the rights to. We do not want your copyrights. We do not want responsibility for your content.

If you want to produce on spec — maybe you’re just starting out, or starting over, or have a backlog of articles, photos, etc. — that’s cool, too. We’d love to see Smartnews grow to the point that a skilled journo could post material prior to selling it elsewhere and still expect to make a buck. We don’t think that’s going to happen overnight.

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