The Business of Freelance Writing: 6-week Intensive with independent journalist Omar Mouallem

A prolific freelancer teaches the career and creative skills necessary to live as a journalist-for-hire

Registration for this course is closed.
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Tuesdays, 6pm–8:30pm ET
Aug. 8 – Sep. 12, 2023

As the media landscape transforms with shrinking mastheads, transnational storytelling, and articles becoming TV and podcast “I.P.”, an independent journalism career has never looked more appealing or necessary. No longer a career stepping stone, freelancing is now the desired destination for many journalists. But how do you support and sustain yourself as a self-employed writer? Award-winning journalist Omar Mouallem will teach you how to pitch the right story to the right market at the right time. Having freelanced for countless outlets around the world — from the South China Morning Post to WIRED — students will learn how to generate new ideas, organize them, and sell them a few different ways. Designed with freelancer rights in mind, the course also covers sensitive issues around copyright, payment, and common disputes. Students will leave with three completed pitches, plus researching, feature-writing, and (tactful) self-promotion skills.

Recommended Prerequisite: This course was designed for writers with a minimum basic understanding of journalism principles and techniques. Not sure it’s for you? Feel free to reach out and ask the instructor directly:


Aug. 8 – Sep. 12, 2022
Tuesdays, 6pm–8:30pm ET

  • Class 1 (Aug. 8): Introduction to freelance journalism / Understanding the marketplace
  • Class 2 (Aug. 15): Thinking outside the margins of traditional storytelling / Mastering the pitch / generating original ideas
  • Class 3 (Aug. 22): Debrief on short pitches / Understanding, Researching and Writing Feature Stories (part I)
  • Class 4 (Aug. 29): Understanding, Researching and Writing Feature Stories (part 2) / Contracts and copyright
  • Class 5 (Sep. 5): Getting the most out of your online presence (w/ guest lecturer Fatima Syed)
  • Class 6 (Sep. 12): Debrief on feature pitches / Multimedia “I.P.” / Conflict resolution

I learned important stuff, met great fellow writerly contacts and made more money from a single successful pitch developed during the course than what I paid for the course.

–Timothy Fowler, award-winning nature and outdoors writer

This course was a good introduction for me to the freelance writing market as I look at expanding my skills beyond radio to print and other media. Omar was an excellent instructor and communicator. He shared his knowledge and insights freely. Well worth the time!

—Cheryl Croucher, The Human Factor Podcast

This course was inspiring and practical. It develops skills and provides tools you can use as a roadmap for moving a project from a glimmer of an idea to an actual, sellable magazine story.

—Caroline Butler, Writer and Filmmaker, Up in the Attic Films

I’m more confident navigating the freelance world now. The amount of work and dedication Omar put into this is top notch. Definitely recommend for those looking to enhance their freelance careers.

—Francis Tessier-Burns, contributor to Up Here! and The National Observer

This course provided all the tools a writer needs for a freelance journey. From practical examples and instructional lectures to group feedback and hands-on critique, I left this course fully equipped to shift into a freelance career.

—Katherine Hill, broadcast media journalist

The course is packed a semester of college journalism and a year of experience into a few weeks. I learned how to better research, write concisely, ethically and on deadline. I learned to target publications were best matched to my style and content of writing. … Omar offered real examples from his long journalism career, access to his organizational process and suggestions on how we might improve. All with reverence and a touch of humor.

–Teri Kinne, writer emerging into journalism as second career

You need to know how to effectively pitch your ideas if you want to be a freelance writer, and because of that you have to take this course. The practical and insightful advice and teachings from Omar will take your pitches to new levels and get you those writing gigs! And then he will walk you through organizing your research/writing life and troubleshooting common mistakes. And if you are lucky, you’ll gain a whole new group of writer friends to bounce all your ideas off of as well. Thank you PanU for another wonderful course.

—Natasha Chiam, freelance writer and digital media consultant


Pandemic University is committed to offering a fulfilling and inclusive education. Classes are held via Zoom with Closed Captioning features enabled through auto-transcription technology. The course includes group exercises and class discussions, thus students are required to participate through audio; accommodations can be made for people with speaking or other disabilities if they inform us ahead of schedule. Video is encouraged of all students in order to optimize everyone’s virtual classroom experience.


This course was designed for intermediate writers with a minimum basic understanding of journalism principles and techniques.

Please be on time. If you’re going to be late, email your instructor and T.A. as soon as possible. The course is intended for live participation, however, if you can’t be present for a class, or must leave early, a recording will be provided in the student folder the morning after.

You’re expected to be present and intellectually curious during class time. In addition to attending each class, you are expected to be available across all dates to complete your writing assignments. If your work is more than 48 hours late, however, you may or may not get feedback.


After checkout, you’ll receive a receipt with a link to download your syllabus, which will include Zoom passcodes, pre-class homework, and additional course information. You will also receive an emailed reminder a few days before your first class.


Space is limited to 16 students. Anyone wishing to cancel their registration has until Aug. 1, 2023 to receive a guaranteed refund. If you cancel between Aug. 2 and Aug. 7, 2023, we will only offer a refund if and after the vacated spot is filled. No refunds whatsoever will be offered after the course begins on Aug. 8, 2023. Violations of the Code of Conduct may also result in your removal from the course without compensation.


Although PanU is technically a fake university, we’re committed to high standards of artistic integrity, quality education, and maintaining a safe virtual environment for students. Abusive behaviour toward classmates or instructors will not be tolerated at any point during the course, including in private messages, and will result in expulsion without refund.

Other violations that could have you expelled from this course include: refusing to participate in group workshops; plagiarism and misrepresentation of others’ ideas as your own; racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia either in your notes (written or spoken) or in your work; sharing recordings of classes; sharing classmates’ work without their consent.

The final say on whether or not you continue in class belongs to the instructor alone. If you have any questions, email