Experience is everything in the journalism sector. Getting digital journalism jobs is a great way to build up your portfolio and receive more opportunities in the future. Read on to find out how to crack into this competitive industry!
Digital journalism is a continuously expanding sector that opens more doors for new writers than traditional print journalism had once done. As the everyday person switches reading from paper to the screen, during the commute or at the gym, digital writers have a myriad of opportunities to reach millions of readers. Experienced content writers are in high demand to fill this void, from producing thought-provoking pieces to writing quick fashion blog posts.
However, just as any writing profession, it has become increasingly competitive to get paid jobs with recognised publications. In order to climb the full-time journalism ladder, it’s important to gather up as much experience points as you can. Digital journalism branches off into many career pathways, from video producer to news reporter, so it’s equally important to have a clear idea of which path you’re best suited to.
Below, you’ll find some tips to help you on your way to becoming another online journalism success story!
While many writing jobs have ‘journalism degree’ or ‘second-honours English degree’ as a prerequisite, it is not completely essential. Most would prefer relevant writing samples or are more interested in what you published during your time at university than what essays you submitted
If you lack the time or the finances to go back for a full university degree, there are evening schools or flexible online courses that you can easily fit into your schedule. Marketing, especially digital marketing, is guaranteed to equip you with the transferable skills you’ll need to produce digital content that wows your readers.
What is also useful is getting accredited with the NCTJ diploma (National Council for the Training of Journalist), which is a recognised national exam for new journalists. You will be trained in all aspects of journalistic practices, such as shorthand, proofreading and media law, with further training after the exam through mentoring. With the perils of fake news everywhere, recognised newspapers are very wary these days of journalistic integrity and reliable sources. They are more likely to hire writers who are well-versed in these aspects.
Build Your Network
Journalism is a tough pathway and requires heaving some groundwork. Freelance writing jobs are a great way to sample the field and learn on the job. Digital journalism offers the option of remote work, which will save on time and travel money (check out Upwork and People Per Hour). Whereas the majority of print journalism jobs used to be based in London and limited to many people, digital journalism doesn’t have this restriction anymore.
But they are not all going to be groundbreaking articles. If you enter with the mindset of writing for The Times on your first day, then you will expose yourself to frustration. Be prepared to write about things you may not be passionate about. The start can be very difficult when trying to get recognised and developing your skills but consider this your learning process.
You may encounter some writing jobs that are low-paid or not paid at all. Internships and work experience will usually be unpaid. This is an essential point when navigating the road of being a professional writer. Striking the right balance between understanding your worth but also what can be compromised in the name of experience is something that can only be learned along the process.
Read and research widely. Keep up to date with new sites as well as the older ones. Find out who is doing well, why and what you think could be improved. Check as many recruitment sites as you can, not just job sites but who the top creative recruitment agencies are. Media jobs do remain a ‘who you know’ industry sometimes, therefore it’s important to build as many contacts you can to get regular work. While LinkedIn is a great tool to connect with potential recruiters, alumni forums and social media (especially Twitter), they are also great for seeing who is looking for new writers.
Stay plugged in by signing up to job alerts from all your favourite outlets. Media giants like the BBC also have paid schemes and training placements for aspiring journalists, as well as open calls for their ‘writer’s room’ – this is their permanent pool of writers for news stories and programmes.
Work on Your Pitch
When you see the call-out for journalists, they will usually say they are ‘open to pitches’. This is your chance to grab their attention and show your potential. Pitches are a succinct and informative way to convey your idea for one or more articles. Be clear about what you are proposing and research if it fits the publication’s style. Be ready to explain why they should feature your writing and how it will add to their site. Make sure you read their guidelines to pitches as every publication has a different requirement to how they want pitches to be submitted. Pitches are a great way to show your unique spin on topics, but also be open to adapting your tone to fit a magazine or editorial vision.
The only way to write well is to keep writing. Write every day if you can. It is a craft that needs to be strengthened through practice. Be prepared for your work to be picked apart by senior editors. Try to view your writing skill as objectively as you can and understand that it is a service and a skill that is paid for (novels and poems are for letting your passions run wild). This way you will have a healthier relationship with your work, even if it is a creative one.
Blogging is a great way to build a personal portfolio when you are not working. You can develop your own voice and focus on what interests you. You will also be able to meet new communities of writers who share the same passions and can inspire each other.