About Me

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Weston Super Mare, Somerset, United Kingdom
Hello and welcome to my blog. My name is Robin Whitlock. I am a freelance journalist with a special interest in environmental issues and renewable energy. I have numerous published articles to my credit and write regularly for a number of renewable energy websites. I am also a writer for Renewable Energy Magazine and a sub-editor for Renewable Energy Focus. I am currently based in Bristol, UK. Besides renewable energy and green issues I have a wide variety of other interests which includes World War 2, mythology and folklore, gardening, railways and lots more besides. You can also reach me on either of my two email addresses, which are: robinwhitlock66@hotmail.com and robinwhitlock1966@gmail.com Thanks!

Hire Me!!

Hire Me!! - Freelance Journalist specializing in environmental issues and renewable energy
Writer for Renewable Energy Magazine
Sub-editor for Renewable Energy Focus
Contributor to Holmes Digital Media websites (Solar Guide, Renewables Guide, Boiler Guide, Builder Guide)
Contributor to Cleversolar blog and Find Energy Savings
Published in numerous national magazines
See below for writing samples

Thursday, 16 October 2014

The diary of a freelance journalist (1)

So this morning, as usual, my first act of the day has involved going through my emails looking for suitable stories for Renewable Energy Magazine (REM). It is my usual practice to hold some links in reserve on a separate word file for use if I can't find anything more impressive in my emails. This word file is normally where I put links extracted from Google alerts, or rather the press release pages on company websites that those alerts normally lead to.  Fortunately, I have got to the stage now where companies are now sending me press releases without me having to ask for them, so I can normally find two or three really good news stories buried in my emails somewhere, and then it's just a case of writing them up.

One thing I DO NOT DO AT ALL is to rewrite news stories. I mention this because there are some companies around that try to get you to do this, but in my experience it is far too easy to not pay enough attention to producing a completely different story and then suddenly you are in hot water with potential risks of plagiarising someone else's work. For someone starting out as a freelance journalist, this is a potentially deadly trap. If you see companies asking you to rewrite stories from news pages, avoid those companies like the plague. There are only two reliable ways of writing good news copy in my experience - 1) find a press release and rewrite that or 2) interview someone. If you can't find a press release, look at a news story, find out who is involved, contact the company mentioned in the news story and ASK for a press release, or an interview.

Having written up the news story, like this one (below) for example. I then have to market it. Renewable Energy Magazine has a Facebook page and a twitter account. My editor takes care of the Twitter account, putting a link to the stories on there, while I normally put a link on my own Twitter page, which I usually do via Hootsuite, and on the REM Facebook page. I also put links on Google+ and LinkedIn and then on my own, professional, Facebook profile and page.

This usually takes the best part of an hour per story, from finding the story in the first place through to writing it, putting it on the website and then marketing it. Therefore I usually allocate the best part of a morning or an afternoon to dealing with the REM stuff.

Having sorted that out, the rest of the day I reserve for trying to find and pitch suitable ideas for magazine articles.

Some people will tell you to stay away from Facebook while you are working, but there are several advantages of keeping your Facebook page open, providing you are disciplined about it. For a start off, working from home can get fairly lonely, as you haven't got any work colleagues around to work with, chat with, etc. So Facebook, providing you don't allow it to become a distraction, replaces that environment, not ideal, but it helps. The other thing is that Facebook, being a place where people chat endlessly, is a very good platform for watching what is going on and potentially spotting some worthwhile ideas for magazine articles. This is particularly true if you join or like a variety of Facebook groups and pages, on all sorts of topics depending on what your interest is. It can also be a good way in which to network with other freelance journalists working from home, participate in debates, quickly grab news from various places, and so on. The best advice here is keep it open, but don't dwell on it, just dip in and out now and then as and when it is advantageous to do so.

So now its mid-day, and I need to eat. Very important, sometimes you can be so busy with looking around for ideas, writing, networking etc that you can easily forget to have a good lunch and a break, so structure and self-discipline is all important in this game.

Bye for now