I am nowhere near an award-winning journalist, but I’ve come a long way from the girl whose college professor said word-for-word “I would never hire you.”
Granted, I skipped a lot of class and half-assed my homework assignments… But come on, I was 18. Give me a break.
Now, I’m writing for Locale Magazine and get all the perks of a journalist like free concert tickets, dinners, and hotel rooms in exchange for an article reviewing the product, band, or location. Once you establish a name for yourself in the writing world, businesses will gladly treat you like royalty because they understand the weight of your opinion.
You must understand, though, that this is a very competitive field. You can’t just get a job at a newspaper anymore. You have to build your personal brand first. Here’s how you can start your journalism career after college:
1. Start a blog
This is such an easy way to start advertising your talents. Plus, you can write about literally anything. A blog gives you the freedom to explore the subjects you enjoy writing about while providing samples that you can later send out to editors. Take your blog seriously and treat it like a business. Even if you write only once a week, make sure you keep cranking out content so you have a thick portfolio when the time comes to showcase your writing abilities.
2. Keep an eye out for stories
Did a local shop burn down close to your house? Are you curious about which biking trails have the best views? Do you want to know how to paint your dresser without ruining everything in your bedroom? Write about it!! As humans, we are naturally curious, but as journalists, we take it a step further. Keep your ears and eyes open at all times for a possible story. There is so much happening all around you and if you want to start your journalism career after college, it’s time to write about it.
3. Start making connections
The way I found my first freelance client came about in a nontraditional way. I met a guy at a bar and we became friends. He knew I was a writer so when he started a fitness company, he asked if I would become the copyeditor for his daily newsletter. Obviously, I jumped at the chance to kickstart my freelance writing career. Get out there and network with all kinds of people. As a writer, I cover a variety of topics ranging from finance to medical to music so it’s important that I keep my contact list stocked with people from every industry. Content marketing is huge right now so you never know when someone is going to come knocking on your door needing an article for their blog.
4. Write for free
If you want to be a writer, you’re obviously not in it for the money. And if you are, then you’re in the wrong field. Offering up content for free is a great way to start your journalism career after college and tack your name onto a quality publication right off the bat. As of now, I am writing for Locale Magazine for free, but with their reputation backing me up, I’ve been able to interview amazing people such as the band Nahko and Medicine for the People, and the founder of UGG, Brian Smith. By simply mentioning that I am a writer for Locale boosts my authority when I pitch stories to these influential people.
5. Submit article ideas to editors
If you want to attend an event or interview someone you look up to, research which magazines or online publications would be interested in your story. If it’s a musician you want to sit down with, check out Relix or Paste Magazine. If there is a local festival or restaurant that you want to hit up, pitch your idea to local editors. When you find the publication that your story would complement, locate the Contact Us page and start sending emails to editors. Make sure you have your ideas organized and appear confident in your messaging. You want to convince them that you’re a professional and this is not your first rodeo.
6. Hit ’em with a DM
After listening to Gary Vaynerchuk for months, I took his advice and started using Instagram direct message as a resource for my writing. The whole reason I was able to interview Nahko and Medicine for the People was because I sent them a DM asking for a chance to sit down with the band to ask a few questions. And just like that, I was in their tour bus drinking whiskey and shooting the shit with one of my favorite musicians… Don’t underestimate the power of a DM.
Building a portfolio and reputation will take time, but if you want to kick start your journalism career after college, you’ll have to hit the ground running. Hopefully these tips help!!