Freelance Files

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Freelance Files is a bi-monthly column for and by environmental journalism freelancers in which a rotating cast of writers share hard-earned wisdom here about myriad aspects of weaving a life and business out of their independent status. For questions and comments, to suggest future Freelance Files columns or to offer to write one, email SEJournal Online Freelance Files co-editors Sharon Ooesthook at or Karen Schaefer at


April 4, 2017

  • You're reporting from the field in a high-risk locale, with a shoestring budget and no back-office support — how do you stay safe? The latest Freelance Files offers some cautionary tales from a long-time SEJ member recently returned from overseas, with a detailed resource guide to help keep you and your data secure.

January 17, 2017

  • What makes for an effective science or environment essay? Freelance Files contributor Michelle Nijhuis explores universal qualities of the best work: It begins with a persistent question that sets the essayist off on a journey of discovery. Also, practical tips on how to get published beyond the essay departments of major magazines.

November 8, 2016

  • Sometimes, the tried-and-true ways of reporting are still the best. In the latest Freelance Files column, our contributor shares three old-fashioned techniques for research and writing that, while they may seem less efficient, will actually get you doing your best work. 

September 1, 2016

December 15, 2015

June 1, 2015

  • Science journalist and editor Hannah Hoag dives into the sad state of affairs that drives freelancers to supplement their income with better-paying work. Photo: Hoag and the CCGS Amundsen, a Canadian Arctic research icebreaker she lived and worked on in 2008; courtesy Bennie Mols.

March 1, 2015