I got into freelance sports writing at the age of 26 when I wrote my first article for the Natal Witness in 1999 after telephoning the sports editor and asking him if he needed any freelance contributions.
I then kept on writing sporadically with very limited success until I had some articles published in the Sunday Tribune in 2008. I was working there at the time as a part-time copy sub-editor in the sports department and I approached the editor about writing for him. He agreed and published some of my articles, which boosted my confidence tremendously as the Sunday Tribune has a fairly large readership.
I then decided to advertise my freelance writing services on the Internet and I was promptly given the opportunity to write sports articles for SA-Venues.com, which I am thoroughly enjoying.
My advice to you is to start attending sporting events and reporting on them. Then once you have produced something, phone your local newspaper and magazine editors and ask them if they’d care to have a look at your work. Who knows, they might like your style and ask you to write for them as a freelancer or they might hire you as staff writer. I personally prefer to work as a freelancer rather than to be employed by someone as it suits my personality and my lifestyle better. But just a word of warning, freelancing is not for everyone.
You have to have your own reliable computer, Internet access and email and lots of determination to succeed. You also have to be a very hard worker and a great planner. I do everything myself (i.e. invoicing, tax, filing, marketing (to a degree), client liaison and a host of other things that a staff writer takes for granted. In a nutshell freelancing is not for lazy, unmotivated people and is a tough life. But I like a challenge and I enjoy what I do so it’s working fairly well for me although, like any career, it does have its downsides. Things you have to consider are not getting paid when you take a vacation, having to provide for your retirement yourself and not having much of a social life as writing, editing (which I also do), sourcing photographs and other related information from the Internet is very time consuming.
I do have a diploma in journalism and media law, which I studied for from ’97 to ’01 by correspondence, but all that did was confirm that I understood the theory concerning journalism. There was no practical experience involved; I had to obtain that on my own.
I hope this helps.