Freelancing: Places to Pitch Story Ideas

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There are no platforms designed specifically for journalists to sell investigative story ideas, but a few websites may prove useful.

To find a publisher for an investigative idea, most reporters suggest alternative routes, such as doing research on possible outlets and making personal contacts. (See more about networking in the section on pitching stories.)

However, there are some websites that provide opportunities to pitch story ideas to a broad audience and to view publishers’ calls for contributions (though these are rarely on investigative topics).

For freelance investigative reporters, a primary value of these job platforms is to find the gigs that pay the bills while pursuing bigger passions.

There are dozens of job sites, so our list is surely incomplete. We’ve included some of the biggest and most relevant ones, but your own research will no doubt turn up sites appropriate to your expertise, language, or location.

Journo Resources, a nonprofit in the United Kingdom, has a clever list of phrases to search with on social media.

One practical use for pitch platforms is to find colleagues to hire or collaborate with. Some sites can be searched by location, which is useful for finding an associate in another country.

So with such caveats in mind, here are some online resources:

HackPack is designed to connect freelancers, fixers, experts, and news outlets around the world. Nearly 10,000 members in 169 countries pay a modest fee to create profiles to show their areas of focus, language, skills, and availability. With its Create a Story Pitch, HackPack promises to “take the best ones every week, promote them in the newsletter AND send them to various publications.” Members get access to a message board that includes jobs and other opportunities and can be used to pitch story ideas. HackPack sponsors occasional pop-up seminars.

Paydesk, created by a former freelance journalist and an internet entrepreneur, is a booking platform that connects media outlets with freelance journalists around the world and facilitates payments. It has been called Uber for journalists. Paydesk is mainly geared toward helping media companies; however, journalists registered with Paydesk can post pitches in a public forum for editors and producers to view. Media clients include English-language international publications and broadcasters, mostly British and American.

Pitchwhiz aims to help freelancers find commissioning editors and editors find freelancers. Online registration with a profile (as editor, freelancer, or both) is free. You can search by keyword and for “stories offered” or “stories wanted.” The website also facilitates communications with other registrants.

101Reporters, based in Bengaluru, India, “sources original stories from grassroots reporters across the country, then edits and markets them to the national and international media,” according to its website.

The Professional Freelancer, a UK-based newsletter, runs some specific calls for material. Subscribers (£90 per year) get editor Anna Codrea-Rado’s prolific ideas.

The Solutions Journalism Talent Network connects freelance journalists to editors. Run by the The Solutions Journalism Network. Reporters fill out a form, and their information is posted for editors to read.

Where to Learn About Pay Rates 

Several platforms provide information on what publications pay. The data is often provided anonymously and the sample size is low, so some measure of caution is advisable.

The Freelancer by Contently has information regarding pay rates at over 100 print and digital publications, as anonymously reported by other freelancers. Most publications are American with a few international outlets, including Haaretz, the BBC, and the Guardian.

Who Pays Writers? is another free, crowdsourced list, maintained by an anonymous collective of writers. Pay rates, assignment type and length, and payment speed are provided for hundreds of publications, including some non-US outlets.

Asia Freelancers’ Info Sharing Sheet is a crowd-sourced list with rates for almost four dozen publications listed, along with editor contact information.

Study Hall is a US fee-based membership organization for freelancers that provides a database on pay rates and a listserv, among other resources.

Journo Resources, mentioned above, has a long list of publications and what they pay.

Industrial Workers of the World Freelance Journalists Union has a spreadsheet on rates, mostly for US publications.

The subject of sharing pay rate information is discussed in a 2020 Columbia Journalism Review article by Elizabeth King.

How Much Do Freelance Writers Really Get Paid (And How to Increase Your Rates), a 2019 article by Alexander Cordova, addresses average US pay rates

Places to Find Freelance Writing Work

Freelance writers are increasingly having to find clever ways to make it in the gig economy.

And while you shouldn’t expect to see ads for investigative projects, many investigative journalists say that doing non-investigative jobs is essential to being able to support their muckraking habit.

The list below (in alphabetical order) is a sampling. Suggestions for additions are welcome.

Fiverr is a website for freelancers and boasts more than 250 job categories, including writing and research.

FlexJobs covers many professions but does have writing-related categories.

The Freelancer by Contently is specifically for freelance writers and seeks to connect registered writers with businesses needing their skills.

FreelanceWriting.com maintains a daily list of available jobs.

Guru has a category for writing and translating.

Indeed claims to be the number one job website in the world and lists much more than freelance work. Here’s the category for “online freelance writer.”

Upwork has a variety of writing categories, including internet research and freelance journalism, where jobs and services are offered.

World Fixer is a global network connecting primarily media, but also corporate and governmental clients, with local professionals who can facilitate their work overseas.