When the United States entered into the Great Recession back around 2008, I had to start thinking about what I would do if I found myself without a job as a journalist. The economy struggled, and a lot of newspapers laid off great journalists. The prospects seemed bleak. I worked for decades as a journalist, and my skill set revolved around writing, graphic design, photography, and videography. I thought long and hard what I would do if I had been laid off, and I can tell you this: It involved the Internet.
The plan back then to make money online …
Below you will find playbook back in 2008-2009. This was the simple plan if I were to find myself no longer being employed as a journalist:
- Start an online news publication;
- Entice people to subscribe to an email delivery every morning; and
- Build an audience and start selling ads to local businesses.
This plan had some start-up costs involved, but not a lot. A domain name can cost anywhere from a few bucks to thousands of dollars (if you were to buy a premium domain name for sale). Hosting would have also cost up to a few hundred dollars to get started. Depending upon what provider you selected, you could get into the game for around $3 or $4 a month with a three-year agreement with BlueHost.
Would this have worked? I am grateful that I didn’t have to find out. But, it is important to always have a plan in case things go south with your job. It has never been easier to make money online. I am not sure how successful the plan above would have been, but it still would fit in with a larger plan. Ad revenue is not something you want to rely on.
Check out these jobs for former journalists
There has been a lot of consolidation among print newspapers, where billion-dollar companies buy up mom-and-pop newspapers. When these companies purchase a number of locations within the same region, former competitors become part of the same company, and positions are eliminated because many functions are now duplicated, which leaves solid reporters looking for work. For this reason, I want to share with you what I think are the five best jobs for former journalists.
Before you say “No,” hear me out: Think about starting your own digital services company. Yes, instead of working for The Man, become the man or woman. Here are five jobs, gigs or side hustles (call them what you will) that you can start today with very little outlay of cash. These were things you could not do as a journalist because of conflicts of interests. Those are behind you now, so check these out and act on them:
- Social media management: You were already doing this as a reporter. You kept your readers informed about the latest happenings, and you did it in a succinct manner. All I am saying is do the same stuff for companies in your town that will pay you.
- Video creation services: I understand you might not have HD video equipment sitting around, but the odds are you have a smartphone in your pocket that does a really good job of capturing video. Did you know some commercials have been shot on an iPhone and a Google Pixel 3? There are also some really good video editing apps for like $5 … the price of a coffee at Starbucks.
- Writing services: As a former journalist, this was the core of what you did. Do you have any idea how many businesses need someone to write for them? They need press releases, annual reports, presentations, and blog posts. If you spent time in the field and not just at your desk, then you likely have a lot of contacts who need writing services. You will not believe how many business leaders will need you to write for them … until you start asking.
- Website development: Chance are you are already familiar with content management systems in your role as a reporter. You had to enter your stories into some type of system so they could be published online and in print. WordPress is a powerful CMS system that also happens to be free. About one-third of all websites are powered by WordPress. It is a relatively easy CMS to learn, and there are tons of videos on YouTube. You know how to research, what are you waiting for?
- SEO Specialist: OK, this one will require an investment because you will need specialized training — the very kind SEOAuditGuide.com offers (and the very one I used to launch my digital marketing business). While this will require some money, I have good news for you: Let your first client pay for it. You can charge $75 or more an hour to conduct a search engine optimization audit on a website, and the average time it takes is about 10 hours. You can always do the other jobs first and when you make a little money, sign up for this course. Trust me, it is a life-changer if you work at it.
What are you waiting for?
So, these are my five best jobs for former journalists. There are other jobs you can do, but consider owning your own business. If your experience is anything like mine, then you know a lot of people in the community that can either use your services or refer you to others. The local chamber of commerce is a good place to start looking for potential clients.
It is scary to be told your services are no longer needed. This has happened to a lot of late-career journalists. So, what do you do when you have lost your job and it seems like there is nowhere to turn? Look above at the five ideas and start talking to people.
What are you waiting for? Your new life starts now.