By Talia Whyte, founder and director of Global Wire Associates and freelance journalist
As journalists are trying to find new directions into reinventing their careers, many of them are considering going out and becoming their own bosses. Over the last year, NABJ and other organizations have been exploring ways journalists can use their communication skills for entrepreneurship. J-Lab will be hosting its annual New Media Women Entrepreneurs Conference Nov. 8 in Washington, D.C.
I have been self-employed for over 10 years not only as a freelance journalist, but also as founding principal of my own new media consulting firm, Global Wire Associates. I attended last year’s conference with the hope of meeting other women on the cutting edge of media and innovation, and I found that and more!
It was great to meet both professional and citizen journalists who have turned their interests and skills into thought-provoking niche blogs. I met women who were blogging about everything from military family life in Oregon to the Latina experience in Chicago. The big question that came up frequently was how to make these blogs profitable, as most of the bloggers were doing their work voluntarily or receiving small amounts of ad money or nonprofit donations. Unfortunately, there were no clear answers, but I am sure as niche blogs become more popular over time, there will be more pressure to discuss and find a sustainable business model at this year’s gathering.
There were other women at the conference who were not necessarily looking to start a news site, but rather to learn about how to use new media for advancing their non-tech business ventures, like Carol Spinney, a Toronto-based food writer who is in the process of starting up a public relations firm for celebrity chefs. At the time she said she was building her own website and “taking baby steps” with Twitter and Facebook.
Then there were also attendees who were only there to test the waters and see if entrepreneurship was for them. I think it’s good for those on the fence to attend conferences like these to see whether or not they have the skills set to go out on their own.
I realized many years ago that I had the skills to be enterprising, and the information I gained at the conference was useful. Since last year’s conference, I have not only stayed in touch with many of the women I networked with, but we are working on projects together. Because of one relationship I developed, I was able to get funding and resources for a series of basic Internet trainings for Nigerian immigrants in Boston my team did this year (picture above) and I am in the beginning process of planning a similar training for low wage foreign workers in Malaysia sometime next year.
I am glad that I went to the conference, and I hope many of you will consider going to see if you have what it takes to be a new media entrepreneur!