data + words + sustainable freelancing!
January 23, 2019 10:00 AM   Subscribe

Freelance/self-employed writing filter: What are some good approaches for pitching & sustaining work in data journalism/technical tutorials/data science & visualization-backed nonfiction writing? I'm curious to learn more about (1) writing in these specific domains and (2) sustainably writing on the side of a full-time position.

I've been dabbling in this intersection for the last couple of years, on the side of my primary pursuits, and I really like it! Now I'd like to start to gather more information about what this looks like as a sustained, on-the-side pursuit (I could invest, say, 15-20 hours a week into this going forward). I also know pretty much nothing about self-employment/small businesses,etc. How would I learn more about this all?

Projects I've enjoyed immensely with any technical element:
* a few blogs using data science to investigate various social/community issues (creating visualizations and often sharing Jupyter notebooks along the way) (unpaid)
* a couple creative non-fiction essays that touch on tech/internet topics peripherally (paid)
* a a short how-to guidebook on filming stop motion animation for children (paid)
* a long-form tutorial essay on text analysis with Python for an open access journal (unpaid)

What I'm most excited about currently:
* data journalism pieces - essentially more extensive projects that follow the blog model of investigating a topic and using machine learning/dataviz along the way
* technical tutorials, especially for newcomers from outside traditional technical backgrounds (e.g. teaching data science from a specifically feminist and critical perspective).
* at some point, I would love to pitch and write books that combine elements of creative nonfiction, data science, and data storytelling. not 100% sure what that looks like, but I think I'd very much like it.

Any guidance would be wonderful. Thank you!
posted by elephantsvanish to Work & Money (1 answer total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: what is UP

this is my field, i am a "data storyteller." though i don't freelance. when I did freelance, in another area, i found it really helpful to have one boring, central, high-volume client that provided a baseline income that let me be comfortable enough to look around for other work (and sometimes not succeed). i think that's a really helpful way to make any freelance work sustainable.

more about writing in these specific domains - there's a lot of data visualization research about what types of visualizations *work* ... there's also a lot of design research about information design - this closely connects to stuff around web usability (ux). i have some other specific resources that i use - feel free to memail me.

I think that a lot of places need to put data journalism-type narratives on the internet, too, and that right now there are a whole host of open source options for creating interactive multimedia narratives. you don't need to be a developer. which is nice.
posted by entropone at 12:26 PM on January 23, 2019 [5 favorites]

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