It’s the dream of every budding writer who lives and breathes sports – becoming a sports writer to have their thoughts and views read by fellow fans around the world. If you’re an aspiring writer for this industry, you’ve likely searched “how to become a sports writer” a few times along your job search journey.
Becoming a sports writer
At JobsInSports.com, we like to share fundamental ideas to job seekers climb the ladder of the sports industry, including those who wish to become a sports writer. Here are four steps we recommend for working up to a successful career in sports journalism.
Step 1: Read, Read, Read
Getting advice to read rather than write when you’re trying to become a better sports writer yourself might seem counterintuitive. However, if you ask any sports journalist for advice on how to become a sports writer, most will tell you to read as much as you possibly can. Read at home. Read on your lunch break. Read on the train. Not only will consuming content (and a variety of it) allow you to remain as knowledgeable about sports, it will also give insight into the way information and stories should be presented.
Becoming a sports writer is just as much about communicating a story as it is about simply presenting information about players and events. The best way to learn how is to see how other successful sports writers have done it, and then try doing so yourself.
Step 2: Write every day
It’s time to state the obvious. If you want to become a sports writer, then start writing about sports. It’s not as simple as that, though.
Tim Ferris, entrepreneur, and best-selling author practices one routine every day, which is to write two crappy pages per day. The key takeaway in that statement isn’t so much about writing crappy as it is about the writing two pages per day. Chances are, as an aspiring sports writer you’ll feel you need to have some masterpiece in mind before you start writing. Don’t think this way. Instead, focus on just getting your ideas out there, as good or as “crappy” as they may be, so you can practice and develop the skill of sports writing.
Want to solicit criticism to help improve your work? Try writing in a shareable document like Google Docs so you can share a link with your friends to read and offer comments. Maybe try reaching out to other writers to have them glance at a piece you’d like feedback for.
If you want to start capitalizing on potential search engine traffic for folks interested in online sports journalism, then a blog is the way to go. There are a host of sites, headlined by WordPress and ProBlogger, which allow you to launch a professional-looking blog and start publishing blog posts right away. If you want to take your blog to the next level and you happen to be internet savvy with a few dollars to spare, go buy your very own “.com.” The site can be your name, something witty, a sports niche. Whatever you want. You can then connect that URL to your new blog, and there are many domain name service sites that have easy-to-follow instructions.
But if you want a no-frills blog that will attract a fair volume of visitors to your sports writing, consider Medium.com as you won’t need to worry about handling any blog maintenance.
Regardless of which platform you use to publish your work, the goal is to gradually establish your credibility as a writer. Every sports journalist has started from square one. One of the easiest ways of gaining credibility is by maintaining a portfolio of published work that anyone can access and verify your talent. Only share your best work in your portfolio. Three great articles are better than 10 mediocre ones.
Step 3: Build connections
There’s a secret which most people tend to overlook about the path to becoming a sports writer – it’s just as much about who and what you know, as it is about your ability to write. While it’s imperative that you continue to develop your writing skills if you write something about sports and nobody reads it, does it even exist?
Many writers want to believe the prophecy that if you write it, they will come. However, the truth is that you must learn to promote yourself and build professional and personal connections to help further your aspirations.
To break into sports journalism, you’ll need to develop a larger audience in addition to building connections. Write for other publications for free. Most of us don’t like the idea of writing for free since time is money. But writing for free is a critical first step that many successful writers have taken to get their sports writing career off the ground.
Even though the idea of writing is fundamentally about putting thoughts on a published medium, your future success as a sports writer is correlated to your ability to build relationships. Ask friends in the industry to share your latest article. Contribute to other blogs. Follow other writers and comment on their articles and social posts. The more connections you have, the greater the chance of catching wind of a job opening or even getting a referral.
Step 4: Play the long game
Matt Miller, the current Lead NFL Draft Writer for Bleacher Report, took his love of writing reports and insights around the NFL Draft and created an independent scouting service and website. BleacherReport.com started leveraging his content so often that, eventually, they hired Miller to write for them. But Miller frequently states that this process took a long time as it was more than a decade between Miller starting his scouting website and receiving an offer from Bleacher Report as a full-time sports writer.
That’s why one of his tried and true pieces of advice for becoming a sports writer is simple – stay patient and don’t give up.
In today’s world of instant gratification where we see so many overnight success stories, people get discouraged if they don’t see immediate results, quitting their endeavor before giving it a chance. Miller himself tells aspiring sports journalist: it might be many months, if not years, before achieving success.
There’s a reason why the saying “patience is a virtue” holds true. At some point in our lives, we’ve all lacked the patience to trust the process without seeing immediate results.
Pursuing your dream of sports writing
If you really want to become a sportswriter, it’s important to understand the sports industry is a competitive one and one that’s saturated with talented writers. It’s likely you’re going to work as hard as anyone over a long period of time if you want to distinguish yourself from the rest of the field.
The famous American salesman and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar reminds us, “There are no traffic jams on the extra mile.”