Tipping Point: Property Journalism Moves Online

It’s not only buyer leads and house sales that are increasingly reliant on the internet.

It’s almost 10 years since I started writing exclusively residential property stories for a mix of newspapers, magazines and – until recently – just the occasional website.

But now, for the second month in a row, over 50% of the articles I have written have been for online purposes only. That’s an exciting development.

I do not refer to those print articles which go online too. For example the Telegraph often puts them on its website even before its property sections appear in print, while the other national papers usually put their stories online on the day of publication.

No, I mean that half or more of my work now appears online only – that’s a first for me.

Payment to freelance journalists who write property pieces are very varied. A 1,000-word newspaper article will earn £250 to £500 depending on the newspaper and journalist, and there is no additional fee if or when the story goes on the paper’s website.

The very best online-only pieces, which usually only run to between 500 and 700 words, vary from a rather poor £150 to a very acceptable £350. In addition some online pieces, perhaps ghosting for other people’s blogs, can be just £50 or £100 because they can be very short indeed – I write one that’s just 200 words.

To many outside the property industry (and certainly to almost anyone in a tough manual job in the real world) these payments are not bad at all, and by comparison with many incomes it is churlish to complain.

But the research and time required when writing a story of, say, 600 words is very little less than a piece of 1,000 words or more. Therefore freelance journalists always prefer longer articles which take little more work but inevitably pay more.

As payment for each individual piece gradually reduces (often because pieces themselves are shorter for online use) so freelance working has to mean an even higher turnover of pieces to keep income at its previous rate.

That’s a challenge but it’s not too difficult.

And as the future of property journalism may be moving inexorably towards the likes of Find-a-Property, Primelocation, Globrix and other online outlets, it’s what freelances have to do – which means this may well have been the last summer that property journalism has been mainly a printed matter.

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