Reinventing myself as a foreign corresondent

September 1, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Things are changing for me, I will be moving from New York City to Bonn, Germany in 30 days.   Communication will take on a new meaning living in a place where I do not speak the language.   So I have been researching what to do!  One possibility is becoming a super-blogger and freelance writer.

So in my last days of privileged NYC access, I took a class on how to be a foreign correspondent at Media Bistro.   It was taught by an able-young-overachiever Manuela who got herself to China and kept pitching Newsweek until they listened.   This class helped me focus my writing strategy. For instance, even though I am going to Germany, I don’t plan to become a correspondent on German culture, because it will take ages for me to become ‘an expert’.   A travel writer perhaps.   But here are a few bits of wisdom about freelancing overseas that I took away from the course:

  • Have a niche.  If my expertise is international development writing… it will still be that in Germany.  I still may get my best stories through a trip or a skype line.  Manuela’s theory is that despite the current devastation to magazines, niche publications will survive because their audiences are solid.
  • To go into a new area, such as travel writing, I need to start from the bottom-up again, getting some clips in free sites to build up my portfolio.
  • Joining the Foreign Correspondents association and writing for English-language newspaper is another way to break in.
  • Don’t teach English…. but do consider teaching writing in English.
  • Building a relationship with an editor is like being in sales — your pitch might not be accepted, but your goal is to get the next meeting, ie.  a response to your next email.
  • Be sure of yourself.  Have a card, introduce yourself: I am a journalist.   If you take yourself seriously they will take you seriously.

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