How can journalists, writers get paid for their skills? Lekan Otufodunrin, a media career development specialist, shares some thoughts on skills they should learn to monetise.
One of the things that have helped me in maximising digital and other opportunities, even though I am not a digital native journalist, is my insatiable quest to know more about what has changed in the ways things I have known for years are now done.
I am conscious of the fact that the media landscape and communication spectrum are broader than what they used to be when I started my career in 1985.
I have realized that in the knowledge economy that we now have, professionals have to know how to monetise their skills beyond the traditional platforms they are used to, which are no longer able to approximately reward journalists for their numerous skills.
So, I do not hesitate to participate in all kinds of trainings which are in abundance these days online like the Facebook Live 100k Blueprint w/ John Obidi and Tricia Biz on Monetising skills which I joined and learnt a lot from recently.
One key point she made about making money through monetizing skills is that interested persons must take inventory of his or her knowledge well and decide which one to focus on.
The knowledge well is made up of some of the following: experience, certification, personal story, results achieved, skills, passion and others.
So what are the skills journalists should learn to monetize considering the poor pay in the industry, declining fortunes of companies and organisations and limited opportunities now available?
Not many are usually willing to pay people for their skills, but it has become necessary to know how to insist on getting cash payment or any other commensurate mode of payment.
Learn how to say “Sorry, I’m not doing that for free” without offending those who want your service for free. Learn to ask for a payment, even if it is a token for a start. Only those who ask are considered for payment.
Here are my thoughts on the following skills which though I am aware many are already monetizing, but there is still a lot that can be done about profiting from what they know.
Many people can report and write, but not everyone can write or report very well. Good writers must avoid writing for free if it is the main source of their livelihood. There must be limits to what you should write for free if you must.
Beyond working for companies and organizations, journalists should seek every opportunity for paid writings. Let the world know you can write well by regularly showcasing your good reports on as many platforms as possible. There should be a website, blog or social media account where your past work can be found, which should include commendations for your skills. by those you have worked for.
Have a price range you will charge for any kind of writing which you should send to people who request for your service but be ready to negotiate whatever offer you get. Payment may not even be in cash but some form of a kind or other rewards.
Paid content writing is now in high demand and you must learn what you need to do to take advantage of whatever opportunity comes up.
You can write for various platforms, publish your own book or ghostwrite for others. You can be a rapporteur at conferences and workshops. Sometimes you have to come up with writing ideas that people and organizations are not thinking of which they will be willing to pay for.
Being able to edit copies is a very important skill that comes with experience and knowledge of issues written about. Without a good editor, who can edit for content, context, facts and other requirements, a publication or broadcast report would not be good enough. You need to know the going rate for editing copies per page, words or duration and other consideration.
Everything you write will be a basis for assessing your claim to being a good editor, so beware of anything you claim to have written.
Like editing, proofreading skills require being able to carefully read reports and spot various errors for corrections, however minor it may be. A good book with typographical and grammatical errors may not command the kind of respect it should if not carefully proofread.
Individuals and companies that offer proofreading services can charge various amount based on their experience and previous work done.
Check online for rates charged by local and international organisations.
Broadcast journalists or media professionals who know how to produce good audio or video reports definitely have to charge for their work. There are now many apps for producing short and long audio and video.
Experienced journalists can open their own Youtube channel and produce video reports and programmes that can earn them advertising revenue or other patronage.
Podcast production is also now in demand and radio journalists can cash in on the opportunities by producing theirs to showcase what they can do.
Apart from journalists, there are people and organizations that need assistance with transcribing their audio or video recordings. It requires time, efforts and good command of English to transcribe well, so asking for payment or any other kind of compensation is not wrong.
There are transcribing companies with charges depending on the duration of the recording.
Messages of religious leaders and other dignitaries are usually transcribed for books and other publications. Though there are now devices for transcription, manual transcription is still largely preferred to avoid missing some parts of the recordings due to pronunciation and other issues.
There are some invitations to speak that must attract payment like some top personalities and professionals charge for. You must however be a master of the subject you want to be invited to speak on.
Important speaking engagements, whether at an event or programme require research and adequate preparations which should be paid for one way or the other. You will be surprised to know what some people charge for an hour or two presentations.
Some organisations will clearly state how much they will pay you for your time, some will not, but you can take a chance even without asking that they should because of their reputation.
If you are good enough to be invited to teach in any institution or programme on issues you have been reporting or skills you have, you should demand payment. This is different from a one-off session.
What you should charge will depend on many factors depending on the ability of the organization or institution to pay. The amount paid may not be much in some cases, but the benefits attached to having the institution listed on your profile may worth your while.
There are many other skills journalists develop on the job or experience gathered worth sharing as knowledge for those who need them. A journalist told me how good she is in ideas generation. She could package it as a paid seminar, webinar or service.
When Bosede Olusola-Obasa launched her Character Development organization I assumed she made a mistake calling it a for-profit organization on the website and called her attention to what I thought was an error.
She told me it is for-profit and not a charity. She has since deployed her years of experience as a journalist to grow her organization to provide many training services.
I admit that asking for payment in our part of the world may not be as easy as I have stated, but people should know that whenever they are doing anything for someone or an organisation, they are rendering a service that they can choose to ask for payment or not.