Fortunately, one of the advantages of brand journalism is the hours are typically much more regular or more easily controlled. Whether former journalists trade the night shift for a nine-to-five schedule or can better manage their work-life balance by working from home, the flexibility of brand journalism can help them make a living without sacrificing their free time.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working in the journalism industry, it’s that news doesn’t wait to break once you’ve settled at your computer, cleared your email inbox, and taken a delightful sip of coffee. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Newspapers and other publications keep employees on the clock for most hours of the day to fit in last-minute stories, inform the public, and scoop stories before their competition does. Journalists have likely seen their fair share of the night shift, whether they’re reporters covering a late-night breaking news story or editors who spend each night putting together the publication that will be released the next day.
According to The Guardian, most journalists work more hours than are stipulated in their contract. In this field, there is no such thing as watching the clock hit 5:00 p.m., putting up your hands, and saying, “I’ll do the rest tomorrow.” You’re on deadline. Either the work gets done or it doesn’t. And the next day, you have to start all over.
I spent a little more than a year working as an editor on the night shift of a daily newspaper. This meant I went in at 4:00 p.m. and left usually somewhere between 11:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m., depending on my workload and whether news broke while I was on the clock. While this schedule generally jived with my inner night owl, there were plenty of drawbacks. It took a substantial hit on my social life and my internal clock. Contrary to popular belief, most people do not want to hang out at the bar for 10 minutes before it closes, and the sun rising should not be the signal you wait for to close out of Netflix and get some sleep. I even highlighted my lack of a life with a magnet I bought during a trip to the Newseum that simply read, “Not tonight dear. I’m on deadline.”
Don’t get me wrong—this schedule can and does work for many people. For reporters who are first starting out and have few pressing obligations beyond work, working nights can be a great way to scoop some last-minute stories and build a portfolio. Parents, too, may find success with this schedule as they swap child-caring hours. But for many people I know who left the industry, their reasoning had a lot to do with finding a more regular job with more predictable hours to spend time with family, friends, and partners.
In pursuit of a more regular schedule, many journalists have turned to brand journalism. Though this industry still operates on a deadline-based schedule, it’s not usually necessary to publish content the moment it comes in, as is the case in journalism. Deadlines are more relaxed and implemented far in advance to give writers and editors the time they need to dedicate to a piece. It is a lot easier to fill your time with other obligations when you know exactly what you have to write, how long it needs to be, and when it is due weeks in advance.
Since many brand journalism writers are freelancers, the industry also provides great opportunities for writers to work from home. This can contribute greatly to having a comfortable work-life balance, since you can write when it is convenient for you and attend to other responsibilities when you have to. This also lets you have more control over where you do your writing. Writer’s block often prevails in the distraction-laden newsroom, and the sound of ringing phones and sight of coworkers zigzagging around in Aaron Sorkin-like walk-and-talks are not necessarily the best recipe for productivity. When you work from home, you can settle into a home office, cafe, park, garden, or really anywhere that gets your creative juices flowing.
Brand journalism can contribute to a lifestyle stabilization many journalists have not even considered during their time in the industry. While switching fields can be a major adjustment, the advantages of brand journalism can be perfect for many people seeking a change from the unpredictable roller coaster of life as a journalist. If you want to switch up your schedule and benefit from the advantages of brand journalism, consider joining Skyword’s pool of storytellers.
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