Determination and good contacts will help you reach for the stars

As popular media increasingly rely on celebrity news and features, there are plenty of opportunities for freelances.

From in-depth film star interviews to snippets about a soap actor’s love life, there’s an abundance of markets that will pay for an exclusive feature or tip-off.

It’s not just the glossy weeklies and tabloid showbiz pages that want fresh stories about the rich and famous. There are also interview slots in broadsheets and specialist magazines, reporting on anything from favourite restaurants to admired pieces of art.

Award-winning freelance celebrity reporter Rodney Edwards advises that, as with any other branch of journalism, it’s a combination of hard work, an excellent nose for a story and cracking contacts that will take you far.

He says: ‘You need to be prepared to work hard, to know the latest goings-on in your chosen field at all times and to constantly make new contacts. Never be put off by rejection, awful days or encounters with bad-mannered celebs.”

A spot of old-fashioned dogged persistence will also pay off, advises Edwards.

‘I search high and low for stories through keeping my ear to the ground. I also have a lot of contacts who keep me informed and have a section on my website specifically for readers to get in touch.”

Working amid celebrities also means treading a path littered with huge egos – and that’s just the PR people.

There’s also the thorny issue of agents requesting copy approval to get to grips with.

If this happens, let your commissioning editor know and take it from there. Interviews can be dropped because of such demands.

Freelance arts journalist Hazel Davis has interviewed subjects including Amy Winehouse, Vanessa Mae and Rupert Everett.

She says: ‘All the celebrity interviews I do are within the genres I write in, rather than a genre of their own. I wouldn’t pitch a random celebrity idea to, say, Grazia. The subject matter comes first and the person second.”

For Davis, the hardest part of earning money through celebrity interviews can be getting hold of them in the first place.

She says: ‘They are often very busy when they have something to promote and time is at a premium, and they only go for the best and most prestigious publications.

‘When they have nothing to promote, they have nobody handling them and are impossible to contact.”

But it’s worth the hassle, says Edwards: ‘The adrenaline of breaking news, running with that big interview and seeing something that you have been working on for weeks finally in print, is one of the most satisfying, blood-pumping feelings around.”

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