Freelance VJ sites

The blessing and bane of being a VJ is getting paid to do what you love. If you’re lucky, you have a staff job with an understanding news director or editor who knows that you will give your all if s/he treats you right. That means a living wage and a reasonable amount of time to do stories you love mixed in with the day-to-day assignments.

But that’s not the reality for most current and aspiring VJs. Love is one thing. Earning an income is another.

I’ve been checking out some sites that purport to channel VJ videos into potential cash flows. Although most cater to breaking news, there is room for other types of stories too. Read carefully and check each out yourself before leaping on board.

And while you’re checking out the organizations, also be aware that some charge a commission – a flat fee or percentage – on your sales while others pay a flat rate to you and others may have different ways to make money.

Cont3nt.com_First up is cont3nt.com. Founded by former National Geographic employee Anton Gelman, cont3nt.com is the new kid on the block. Like most of the sites below, its emphasis is on breaking news…getting your just-shot breakers up on the site and out marketed to a global market. He has a variety of contracts from short-term limited to total buyout. Nice part is that if you have current clients he won’t horn in on them…but he does open up new market potential. All business is transacted directly by the freelancer and the client…cont3nt.com does not get involved in anything beyond providing the platform and collecting a small fee per transaction. They do require (as most do) that you sign an ethics statement. cont3nt.com also has a ratings system for their VJs…the more experience you have and the more and higher quality stories you provide, the higher your ranking.

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CrowdMedia specializes in sifting through twitter feeds, looking for photographs at news events and venues. You can’t apply – and rates are low by professional standards unless the event is major (see below).

CEO Martin Roldan has this to say about his site:

Our marketplace is only for photos right now. Contact is made through our platform directly, with images coming from Twitter. Direct upload will be open as soon as our unique “Authenticity Detection” will be fully operational. This is to make sure we only get photos depicting real events and that people uploading them are the rightful owners.

Since we are focusing on the value of real-time events, images are at a fixed rate of $20 during the first 48 hours and $5 after that time. A photo of a major event could be purchased more than 1000 times.

ELANCE-NEW-LOGO eLance seems to be a meeting place on steroids for those seeking temporary workers and freelancers of all ilks, not just videographers. Potential employers post a job then view the matched freelancers. They have to deposit the full amount of the quote from the freelancer plus the commission to eLance…freelancer paid either when the job is done or when milestones are reached. Not just a VJ site though you may find the occasional gig there.

emphasis empahs.is is a crowdfunding platform for visual journalists. You have to provide the usual: a short proposal of two or three sentences, one page proposal outlining the scope/relevance of said project, your personal (short) bio, links to your work and a video pitch. Offhand this looks more like a still visual storyteller site…but check it out and let us know what you find out.

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gothamist-logo Geothamist serves hyperlocal major metropolitan areas around the world…if you live in or near one of those listed there may be opportunities for you.

Newsmodo, again, has a similar platform to most of the others.

According to Managing Editor Ryan Jones, Newsmodo is a free global platform for freelance journalists. newsmodo He says, “We offer journalists around the world the opportunity to work for big and small international media companies. They set assignments for you to pitch to OR you pitch unsolicited and they commission.”

305549_980 reportersunited is not just for the word folks…it’s actually targeting VJs. Like cont3nt.com it seeks breaking stories, but also wants good factual features. And I’ve worked with their team just enough to know they will seek clients if you have a good idea…and they act as an intermediary between VJ and client to ensure the story fits the need. What else you need to know: independent video news agency, adherence to journalism standards of facts/conduct/ethics, global distribution (all of these sites provide that).

storyhunter5 storyhunter was founded by VJs and although you can provide story ideas, they also provide assignments you can sign up for. They do screen, so no newbies here. Their emphasis is serious work and breakers for working VJs.

ttm_tumblr_profile transterramedia is another global site that accepts pitches from VJs and matches them up with clients. They do breaking news but accept hard-hitting general news and features. They do screen before allowing VJs on board and do work closely with their contributors (this from experience).

vourno_logo Vourno is fresh off the press…came out less than two weeks ago. It is a crowdsourcing platform aimed at “Vournos” or video journos. They solicit “pubs” to provide support and funding for projects you propose. The VJ owns the rights to their work…what Vourno does is provide exposure for VJs and their story ideas to a public willing to pay to see a story through. This is not an income stream where you are paid to work…your story is funded for what it will cost to produce and then you are free to market it to clients once it has appeared on the Vourno site for a specified amount of time.

Realize that I’ve vastly condensed the information and approach each of the above sites is taking…but the bottom line is they are potential money-makers if you have the skills, ideas, and commitment to follow through and provide what you promised.

In addition to these there are job/gig websites, including staffmeup, productionhub, mandy, mediamatch, journalismjobs. You can find others by doing a web search with the type of job you’re interested in and “job board.” These offer short and long-term gigs and even full-time jobs. Pay ranges from (what else) free to union scale. (I’ll be updating this list and adding urls over the next few months.)

And Facebook has opened up some possibilities, although with disclaimers. Many gigs are in conflict zones on pages like “Find a journalist…around the world.” Other sites are mainly for discussion with the occasional gig – videojournalist, Global VJs and TV Freelancers. In many cases you have to ask to be added because they are closed groups and you may even be screened to ensure you are a professional.

So as bleak as the full-time staff market may be…if you are enterprising and industrious you may be able to make your passion a paying profession.

9 thoughts on “Freelance VJ sites

  1. BTW would appreciate input on sites you know about…add to the list. My take on competition is that I am not competing against you…we are competing for the client/the audience. Your style may be better suited for the job than mine, in which case you should get it…but perhaps I’ve got the style and insight to make a better story at times. We are here to support each other and learn from each other.

  2. Hi Cindy,

    http://www.grnlive.com is another one to consider – we’ve been around since 2000 but are less online, more traditional with a very story client base. We sell live production, news, fixing and do a host of other newsgathering. Our MO is to provide what the client wants, efficiently, quickly and competitively from trusted and verified reporters, journalists and producers.

    As our blue chip clients start to reduce their reliance on the big agencies, good players in this industry will have more opportunities. It’s all about budget, while maintaining good rates for the job. On the downside, the risk is a race to the bottom…

    Thanks

    Henry

  3. Thank you Henry…I’m going to move your information into the main posting rather than in the comments (will leave it here too). My goal is to have a single resource folks can go to if they have stories to sell. And we both realize that an efficient workflow that produces a superior product at a competitive price is a goal that will sustain solid storytelling…but there is always a risk. The part of the risk that scares me most is an audience that will accept lower standards and poor storytelling if they can get it free.

  4. Hi Cyndy,

    your article is very informative but it would be great if you could offer the same valuable advice on sites accepting freelance writers/journalists and not only video journalists. I think this would really boost your views as the majority of journos are more “traditional” but I take it that your are mostly interested in your area of expertise so I don’t insist…One again congrats!

  5. Thank you for your response Jade…and you are correct. My blog has a fairly narrow focus – that of videojournalist, one man band, backpack journalist. A solo journalist operating with a portable camera, laptop who is very mobile. I do delve into writing and even areas that pertain to still photography – but am not an expert in those areas.

  6. OK Jade…the fist cuppa coffee just kicked in and I am thinking clearly again. A number of journalism sites link to this blog and refer people. You may have used some of them from time to time…here’s a short list which you can use as a resource for non-vj journalism: http://blogs.journalism.co.uk/, http://oedb.org/ilibrarian/the-40-best-blogs-for-journalism-students/, http://journalismdegree.org/best-sites-2012/ (this one is a commercial site pushing college degree programs, but still a list of resources). Hope this helps…

  7. BTW, Cyndy, I am not so sure about Newsmodo or Transterra sites (or shall I call them agencies?). I have tried them–only once, it’s true–but in vain. Why should I want an intermediate who will get commission for just promoting my piece, without helping me produce or edit the piece? What would stop me from pitching clients myself, I can find anything on the Internet. We shouldn’t be naive, insecure and lazy but then again that’s my humble opinion.

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