Things I Learned From my First Year of Journalism

The majority of people who’ll be reading this will probably know that since last year I’ve been a music and pro wrestling journalist. Now that I’ve spent over a year breaking myself into the weird and wonderful industry that is journalism, I thought I’d share some wisdom I’ve learned along the way to anyone else who might want to go the same route. I hope that anything that I’m going to talk about in this article will help you at all if you’re just starting out!

Getting somewhere at all is very hard

Unfortunately, this is a sad fact of journalism, especially if it’s in a fairly niche subject. It will be pretty hard for you to get into it and you very likely will not get paid for your early ventures. I was lucky that I managed to get offered a position through somebody I’d already known for a while who had made his own start, but you may not be as lucky as that. If the worst comes to the worst, you can always make your own little space. Get yourself a WordPress site (like this!) or something similar and start talking about shows you’ve been to, where you’ve travelled in the world or your opinions on certain things that are related to what you’re interested in. You have to have a real passion for writing to get anywhere and a willingness to work quite a lot for zero or almost zero financial return to be able to do this.

Write as much as possible!

You know what they say – practice makes perfect. So make sure you get as much practice in as possible by writing about anything that you like or interests you. If you’re able to, get trusted friends or family to have a look at some of your writing, especially those who are not very writing oriented. When I was doing my essays at University I got my dad to look over everything as he’s a maths person and isn’t a writer – if he could understand and maybe even learn something from what I’d written, I knew I was onto something good!

Learn the ropes of social media

Love it or loathe it, social media is part and parcel of marketing yourself these days. Make sure you know the ropes of how social media marketing works. This doesn’t mean you have to play the algorithm to the letter to get where you want, but it does mean you need to be effective and efficient with using things like tagging, hashtags, SEO and engagement to help build your audience. Instagram isn’t much good unless you are very heavy on photos because of how the algorithm works. Facebook and Twitter are much better tools to market your writing, Twitter especially because its algorithm isn’t as restrictive if you’re not paying to boost posts.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get!

This is the most important thing that anyone should know when you’re dealing with PR or management in any way, especially if you’re doing it under the name of a blog or website or whatever else it might be. You will never build the connections you need to build if you don’t send off some e-mails and ask about things. It may feel like being annoying at best or e-begging at worst, but you’ve got to do it. Trust me in that you will very likely get some really cool opportunities out of it. So long as you don’t come across the wrong way, you’ll very likely get what you were asking for.

Be kind – but don’t be weak!

This should come as common sense really, which is why I’ve put it last, but it deserves being told anyway. Be nice to people and don’t be a dick! This is especially important in more niche circles where it’s very likely that everyone knows each other – being a dick will make you look pretty awful! Having said that, if you end up being on the receiving end of dickhead behaviour from other journalists or from PR/management/artists/whatever else might be causing the problem, don’t let it slide. If a band has had a tantrum over a bad review, for example, it’s OK to e-mail their management and let them know that you’re not very happy with how they’re behaving. At the end of the day it’s your personal opinion and people shouldn’t get too worked up about it. Don’t mistake being kind with being weak.

So there you go, here’s my little tips that I have for you from what I’ve learned from my first year of being a journalist! Maybe I’ll do another one of these this time next year?

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