How to get your Sports Writing Career off the Ground

With the Soccer World Cup and the Commonwealth Games splashed all over our televisions, computer screens and newspapers this year, many of us have caught the sporting bug. However, were you watching just for fun, or did it ignite an interest in turning your passion for sport into a career?

Perhaps you aspire to be like Peter FitzSimons, a former Wallaby lock who now writes for the Sydney Morning Herald and is a panellist on Fox Sports? Or maybe you admire Liz Ellis, a professional netballer turned writer who now commentates on Fox Sports, appears on The Back Page and has written two books?

A great way to get into the sports writing industry is as a freelance writer. Get your foot in the door by contacting sports magazines and newspapers to see if they would hire you to write for them.

But first, you need an article to impress them! For some inspiration, keep an eye out for these upcoming sporting events and have your notepad and camera ready:

• Rugby—The Bledisloe Cup—16th August
• Motor Racing—Australian Grand Prix—19th October
• Golf—Perth International—22nd—26th October
• Horse Racing—Melbourne Cup Carnival—1st November
• Cycling—The Tour Down Under—17th—25th January
• Tennis—Australian Open—19th January—1st February

Tennis

Now you have the sporting events diarised, where should you start?

We recommend setting up your own sports blog. It will give you experience in writing and it is a good way to get noticed and show off your sports journalism skills to companies who may be looking to hire. So start writing your first post to show them what you can do!

Here are a few tips when considering what to write for your first article:

Understand the sport—Do some research into the rules and past scores so you can add background and detail to your article. Make sure you include key terms to show you are familiar with the sport.

Read widely—Take a look at the work of other sports journalists to see how they write. Work out their style and anything that sets them apart from other writers.

Be objective—Your favourite team may have lost, but it’s important to remain objective when writing a sports story.

Keep it simple—Make sure your article is easy to understand. Although you may be an expert in the sport you’re writing about, your readers may not be, so always bear this in mind.

Build your contacts—You have no doubt heard the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Well, this certainly applies to the sports writing industry. Try to network with as many people as possible, from bloggers, sports people, agents and local clubs. It’s good to stay in the know and they might create some useful interview opportunities.

sports writing

Now you know the basics, are you interested in taking your career in sports journalism further? To learn more about how get noticed and how to make your articles stand out, consider developing your skills with a journalist training programme.

At the Australian College of Journalism, we have a specially designed Freelance Sports Writing and Photography course. This will help you develop your research and interview techniques, find angles for your stories, improve your digital photography skills and much more.

If you would like more information about our Certificate in Freelance Sports Writing & Photography course, get in touch with us today. Call us on 1300 309 225.

If you’ve already taken the leap and have become a freelance sports writer, we’d love to know your tips and advice. Let us know in the comments below!

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