You don't have to be a big name journalist to make money from writing news. You can make a good sideline income by writing short new stories. You can make money by selling ideas for news stories, which is known as being a 'news stringer'. You could even make quite a big lump sum from what is known as a scoop!
- First, choose a newsworthy area or two to specialize in. Good, topical ideas (but not the only ones you can write news on) are: Politics, the economy, sport, entertainment, culture, crime, business or the environment. If these sound a bit too heavyweight for you then focus on local news. For example, local politics is a LOT easier to write about than national politics.
- Next, get familiar with some newspapers that publish news on your chosen newsworthy area. The national newspapers pay the most money but are more tricky to get started with. Local and regional publications are easier to sell to but not all pay for news stories – be sure to check first. If the titles are unfamiliar to you go and purchase copies of them and ascertain if there any back issues available. Study what types of news have been run by those publications in the past and aim to source similar news. Some publications want more factual news, while others want humorous news or sensationalist news.
- There are a few directories where you can get contact details for newspapers and magazines. Here's a good one I use all the time: Media UK.
- Now here's a very good way to get started: Look for the news stories that appear in your chosen publications every day or every few days. Do some research into those stories. See what else you can find out about them. Look for the story behind the news. People and events the original journalist might not have found out about. Follow those leads up and create new, sellable news stories of your own from them.
Your news story doesn't necessarily have to be that well written. If it's good the editor will put a pro. journalist on the case and still pay you for the lead. This is what is known as 'stringing'.
Good tip: Remember not every news story is something that has just happened today. Stories that have happened over the past week or month are carried in many publications, especially magazines. So look for past stories from last week's or last month's old newspapers. Look at how you could research and rewrite them in your own words to sell to weekly or monthly magazines.
When you have a story idea send details in as soon as possible. Don't wait until you have written the story up. Use email, so it reaches the editor as quickly as possibly.
It's OK to tout your news to several publications to get the best offer. There are even agencies who will do this for you. However, give each a reasonable time to consider your news before moving on to the next. Most editors will want to buy exclusive rights to newsworthy stories, so don't sell it to several publications simultaneously.
Good tip: If you can get a photograph related to the news story you can get extra money for that – or even just sell the photo.
How to make money from a scoop: This is an idea worth thinking about. Get to know if there are any celebrities living in your area. Find out where they live and where they go – and when – to places such as work, shops, gyms or golf clubs. (Not that you should ever follow them of course!) Join their fan clubs to get inside information. Use the places they go yourself if you can. There's a good market for scoops about what celebrities, even minor ones, are getting up to. It might not happen often, but you can get £ hundreds or £ thousands for these scoops.
Note: When selling news regarding celebrities you need to respect privacy – although many professional paparazzi don't seem to. Don't take photos that are a gross intrusion of privacy, offensive or could be considered defamatory. Even if they're not illegal there won't be much of a market for them.