Sure a degree in English can get you a long way, but as long as you read enough, you can be a football writer, but you have to know and love the beautiful game.
I’m assuming if you’re reading this you already love football, and you might enjoy writing, so why not put the two together?
Don’t be put off by the need for a degree in English – it’s not that fundamental. It shows you’ve invested in yourself, but very often grit, determination and a shit-load of knowledge can get you a long way.
Instead of pondering over it, try writing an article straight away.
You definitely want it to be published and not just sit on your computer, so why not submit it to a reputable website? You could even get noticed and picked up to work for another site and for paid work, although in the early days you should just look at improving your writing skills.
Give Me Sport.com is often looking for new writers and has a very good online apprenticeship scheme where you submit articles and if they are good enough you get approved to write for the site.
It has a pretty strong fan-base and has good links to social media, so your work can be seen by potentially millions of people.
- When drafting an article, write it in Microsoft Word. This will enable you to spell check your work as you go, read it back and make sure it flows correctly. So important is spelling and punctuation, so make sure you Google all the names of players and teams if you are unsure.
- Use the spell-check on Word to make sure your commas are in the right places. This is really the fundamental of being a good writer.
- Next up is the passion and the knowledge. You need to have the knowledge in your brain and the passion for writing and football to put these words into practice. It’s no good really if you’re a writer of poetry or a rugby fan and you start trying to write about football. If you don’t know the essence of the game then your words will just be lost.
- Write one page of shit on any football subject you know something about. Get to a point where the words flow onto the page. It helps if you can type fast, so learn to touch type. You don’t want to be sitting there typing each key individually.
- Write for free at first – don’t expect to be paid for your work. If you’re good, you’ll produce good articles which will be picked up and you’ll eventually make money from it. You shouldn’t enter football journalism expecting to be very rich, you should do it because you have something to say and have an expert knowledge of football, and maybe don’t want a ‘boss’.
- Accept direction. Very often you will start working for an editor, so take on-board anything the editor has to say, especially with regards to your work. If he’s not happy with your work and lets you know, try not to take it to heart. Learn from his input and produce better articles.
- Know that writing is something that improves with practice. Like anything in life, nobody is born great. Mozart wasn’t born knowing how to play the piano, he simply learnt how to play it and then practiced and practiced until he was the best classical musician in history.
- Read other people’s work. If you have a genuine passion for football you’ll be doing this any way, but read editorials on the best football sites such as The Guardian and BBC Football. There’s a reason why these journalists work for the big sites, because their work is good. You can learn from them by their writing style and also develop your football knowledge at the same time.
- Try not to write lengthy paragraphs. Information is easier to digest if it’s in shorter sentences. Make sure you read your article back to yourself – even out loud – to check that it flows well and gets across the points you want to say.
- Sometimes it makes sense to not jump straight in with an article and instead write a draft on paper. A catchy headline and a few bullet points about what you want to say can easily turn into a 500-750 word article with a bit of work.
- Watch football games. This might seem obvious but you really need to see with your own eyes what you are writing about. You can’t just read online articles and palm off other people’s insights as your own. It helps if you enjoy watching football and can regularly watch games either on TV or even better in person at the match.
- Have a notepad with you at all times. This is so you can jot down your new ideas and add to existing ones, and you can use your notepad when writing your first draft.
- Don’t get discouraged. If football writing really is for you then you will enjoy it and get good at it. If your first article doesn’t get approved, write another one. If your first ten articles don’t get approved, keep going. Eventually one will get through. Like anything in life, determination and perserverance are the keys to success. Nothing is handed to you on a plate.