Job title Sports journalist
Employer Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, Premium Sport HD, InFront Sports
Freelance sports journalism... where no day is the same
Fancy writing for a national magazine one day, a leading magazine title the next and then appearing on TV? Freelance sports journalism could be for you, as Sports Journalist Sheridan Bird explains…
“I write mainly about football,” Sheridan explains. “Clients include Mirror Online, Champions Matchday, England and FA Cup Final programmes, the Blizzard and BT Sport.
“In a busy week I can supply a couple of mid-length (600/1000-word) articles for magazines, maybe a blog and sometimes a weekend appearance as a TV pundit for a European match.
“I have been lucky – I have had an interview quoted in Gazzetta dello Sport website, written in England and FA Cup final matchday programmes, interviewed footballers Fabio Cannavaro and Didier Drogba and been on TV as a pundit for great games like Leverkusen v Bayern and Inter v Roma in October 2013. I also co-wrote a charity art book about typography in football, so it can be creative and (hopefully) other football fans enjoy my work.”
Sounds good, right? But what skills do you need to get into what is a competitive field.
“Above the actual writing skills, which you can get from a book, course or website, you must be tenacious, thick-skinned and proactive,” explains Sheridan. “There is so much competition for these jobs, people won’t give you anything. In fact they’ll probably ignore you. So if you get a chance (by being ballsy or spotting a gap) you have to take it. You have to learn to work outside your comfort zone, whether that is working faster than you’d like, being more vocal/pushy or cut-throat.
“I have been lucky – I have had an interview quoted in Gazzetta dello Sport website, written in England and FA Cup final matchday programmes, interviewed footballers Fabio Cannavaro and Didier Drogba and been on TV as a pundit”
“I did a degree in journalism in 2002-03 and studied Italian in Italy to help read calcio stories. I then started writing online (Football365.com) in the spring of 2003. Originally, I did this for free and in doing so I became F365’s weekly Italian correspondent, earning enough of a profile and creating a portfolio, which allowed me to apply for print media jobs. I moved to Champions magazine full-time in 2007 as staff writer and left in Spring 2011 to go freelance again. Writing weekly blogs from Italy for F365 between 2004 -2007 taught me to be concise, disciplined and how to pick the interesting story of the week.”
If it sounds like a tough sector to break into, it’s because it is. But Sheridan urges you to persist if sports journalism is what you want to do.
“Unless you’re a freak, or a genius, you’ll probably get rejected or ignored for months, maybe years. But those who stick at it often make it.
“My tip? Identify the magazines/papers you want to write for. Then really study their style and content. Once you know what they usually publish, send ideas. If you just submit the same ideas to all the magazines/papers you probably won’t get a reply. You must show knowledge of each publication.
“My tip? Identify the magazines/papers you want to write for. Then really study their style and content. Once you know what they usually publish, send ideas.”
“Be prepared to work for very little money, even free, if you choose to write online. The internet is good for giving young people a first chance, but it pays very badly. No one goes into journalism to get rich unless they publish successful books or become a TV/radio ‘name’, but it’s rewarding in other ways.”
Follow Sheridan on Twitter: @SheridanBird