I have been a journalistic freelancer for several years. People think that journalism freelance is a job; it is actually not a job, it looks like a business. The freelancer has to think of how to promote his work; and she/he does have two audiences or targets. First target is the publishers, and the second audience is the readers.
Newspaper publishers certainly look for a freelancer who can attract the readers’ attention; they seek someone who knows two or more languages; they try to find a writer, whose expertise would not be offered by someone else. For example, as my area of expertise is Middle East politics and media, I am the only freelancer who writes about Lebanese politics. Likewise, when I analyze media coverage I provide an academic perspective to the subject.
Newspaper readers also have their own characteristics:
Sense of humour likers: newspaper readers like to read the work of those who make them laugh. They like political irony and will follow someone who can touches on the political paradoxes.
Loyal but uncertain readers: newspaper readers do not like to shop around for newspapers; they are loyal so they read certain newspapers and only look for certain writers. They are loyal, but still uncertain about the content the freelancers could offer, so you always need to keep them updated through social media.
Engagement seekers: newspaper readers are not usually young guys; new generations are more into social media and micro content. Newspaper readers like to get engaged, so you need to raise questions for them; you have to allow them to comment, and to email you if they like.
‘In-depth’ hunters: newspaper readers appreciate in-depth analysis; they value freelancers whose writing would go beyond the surface meaning.
Politically oriented: the picture of my audience indicates that Arab readers are politically oriented, particularly with the aftermath of the Arab Spring.
The freelancer can draw the readers’ attention through several tactics. The freelancer has to use social media to get feedback on her/his articles. A freelancer should be active blogger. Arabic language freelancers should use some terms that fit her/his audience accent. For example, the Lebanese accent is different than the Egyptian accent. When writing to about Lebanon, the freelancer should employ some terms with Lebanese accent. This attempts to engage the audience. A third tactic is to boost your web presence though Search Engine Optimization.
If the audience notices you, the newspaper that looks for a freelancer, will start noticing your perceived value.