It was my girlfriend who actually found out about the Professional Freelance Journalism Course with the British College of Journalism. I was pondering a change of direction and I’ve always enjoyed writing, but never seriously thought I’d be able to make money from it. After reading all about the course I decided to give it a go, and I’m very glad that I did so. At the time of writing I’m currently undertaking my fourth paid commission.
When I began the course I didn’t have the faintest idea as to how the Journalism industry worked, and even less so about how freelancers get a look in. But the course guided me through all this in an easy to digest manner. I particularly enjoyed the case studies of journalists working in the industry today and their insider tips of the trade.
You have up to two years to complete the course but I really got into it and pretty much covered a tutorial a week. The turnaround is quick in terms of receiving marked assignments, and the feedback was always helpful. I found the support staff very prompt and courteous when responding to my queries, too.
One of the things many students can struggle with at first is a tendency to over write – a hangover from A Level and undergraduate days. As a journalist you need to be more concise with shorter sentences and simpler words – it took me a while to get the hang of it but my tutor was patient and supportive with plenty of helpful tips. Whilst undertaking the course I wrote some unpaid articles for an online publication. This helped me to develop my writing and ideas, and also gave me the basis of a portfolio.
The final assignment was to write a feature article ‘on spec’. Within days of finishing the course I successfully managed to sell the article to a glossy magazine. I then worked on some pitches which we had developed over the course. These were sent to a highly prestigious magazine, and I couldn’t believe my luck when they commissioned two of them. Much to my amazement, the second in fact featured on the front cover of the magazine. My friends and family thought it was great to see my name in print, and I must say so did I. Subsequently I have since received another commission from the same magazine.
The course has inspired me to pursue a career in the writing world – something I wouldn’t have thought possible at the outset. I hope to build on my early success as a magazine features writer, and have also started a course in copywriting.
I would certainly urge anyone who has a love of writing to give this course a go – whether you plan to pursue it as a full time career or just a fun hobby to earn some pocket money. I wish you the very best of luck!