Lauren Shapiro
Freelance Journalist Durban

Here’s where I share my thoughts on writing, freelancing, and operating in the media world.


Tips for sourcing sources

The freelance life is always interesting, and sometimes saucy. And it's usually very source-y. More tips on how to find the right voice for your story.
7 August 2014



This morning The Media Online ran a story of mine on Freelance resources for sourcing sources. As an added bonus, here are some more tips to help you make sure you always find the right person for the right story:

Keep an inspiration board

Not everything is online. I have a pinboard (yes, an actual wood and felt one) where I pin things that I'm sure will somehow be useful in the future, even if I can't see how right now. I clip out adverts for life coaches, psychologists and alternative therapists as sources for stories on mental well-being. I collect business cards of doctors, dentists, podiatrists, chiropractors and fitness instructors for use for health stories, and those of baby and childcare experts to use for parenting stories. I save flyers for interesting workshops, ads for unusual products and brochures for special interest groups, because you never know when they might come in handy for a story.


Join forums, read blogs and attend workshops

These are all great ways to meet new people and join interesting conversations. The more people you know, the wider your pool of contacts, not to mention ideas and stories. Collect business cards and URLs in a Rolodex (or a simple A-Z notebook), and if someone doesn't have a card, take down their details the old-fashioned way and store them. You never know when you might need them.


Live a little

It's easy to spend so much time behind your screen that you forget how to communicate with real people. The more you get out there and simply live your own life, the more links you will make that may be useful to you in the future. You may meet a chatty cashier who would be perfect for a story on working women. Or your beautician may tell you about her nephew's friend who runs an NGO that's great for a human interest story. You can pick up invaluable contacts at social or networking events, and friends (of friends (of friends)) can become extremely useful links (see next point).


Play broken telephone

Keep the chain going. If one person can't help you, they may know someone who can. Recently I needed to source an HR expert. I don't work in a company, but a friend used to. She said her sister now does. Her sister put me onto the HR department, who found me the right rep for my story. Always ask. And if that person can't help you, ask who they think can.

What are your most successful tips for sourcing sources? What's the most difficult sourcing challenge you've overcome? I'd love to hear from you. Drop me a line on lauren@laurenshapiro.co.za




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Next : This is the Life of a Freelancer