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ASK US WEDNESDAY: “How do I get on in-house freelance work lists?”

by Rachel Smith
02 May 2018

I am keen to do some freelance subbing around the traps to supplement my writing income, but I can’t seem to get on ‘the list’, which NewsLifeMedia has, and I can’t get a gig without it. Do other publishers have ‘lists’ and how do I get on them? L

I hear for NewsLifeMedia it’s a complicated process. Usually, you’re put on the ‘preferred’ in-house freelance list because an editor has worked with you, trusts you and has jumped through hoops to put you on it. This entails writing a formal business case scenario (literally endorsing you to work in-house) and if you get to this stage, you’ve probably already done a decent stint of holiday cover or working a regular few days a week or month.

If you’re working with an editor there already (but you’re not on the list and would like to be), there’s nothing to stop you asking about the in-house list and being really proactive. Say you’ve heard about the list and you’d love to be on it for future freelance work – and is there anything you can do? Explain what type of work you’re looking for and mention that you’re very flexible. That will appeal, because often the list is a last-minute resort when someone is sick or on holiday and a magazine is on deadline.

An editor there told me today: “It’s worth reminding people regularly that you want to be on the ‘list’ because we sometimes have little windows where we can drop people in – the HR department will contact us and say, ‘do you want to add anyone to the pool, we have a gap’, so you want to be top of mind.”

If you do get called for a fill-in job or freelance stint, move hell and high water to take it. This is your time to shine and to showcase your ability to turn up and do the job. Study the title and try to hit the ground running with the house style. Doing all of these things can only mean extra freelance work going forward.
Other publishers have different arrangements. Bauer, for example, doesn’t have a ‘list’ as such, but to work in-house as a freelancer you’re put on a casual employee contract. For other publishers, it’s best to talk to other freelancers about how they get in-house work and see if there’s an opportunity for you to follow the same process.

And don’t forget the other ‘secret’ lists out there, jotted down in every deputy and commissioning editor’ little black book. Chances are, if you’re a fantastic sub or amazing freelancer who nails the brief every time, never misses a deadline and produces quality work, you’re on one somewhere. Similarly, editors will list freelancers with strong contacts or skills in a particular area so you can be contacted when stories come up that require your knowledge. So it pays to be great at what you do!

Do you know about publishers’ secret lists? Are you on any and if so, how did you get on?
Rachel Smith
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Rachel Smith

As a kid, Rachel used to carry around a little suitcase of pens and paper so she could stop and write stories whenever inspiration struck. These days, she writes for a living, in between running the show at Rachel's List. Some of you may actually believe she looks like a megaphone in real life, but it's not the case. Honest.
Rachel Smith
Find us!

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