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Jul 8 / Will Tidey

3 things every aspiring sportswriter should be doing

Sam Tighe

Sam Tighe parlayed an unpaid gig into a writing career.

I get a lot of emails and LinkedIn messages from young sportswriters who are clawing the side of a crowded mountain to make their name. It’s a good rule to always reply to these and, if asked, I’ll happily make the time to get on the phone and share any advice that might be helpful.

The truth is there’s no surefire way to scale to the top as a sportswriter, but there are three things every aspiring Wright ThompsonRed Smith or Lars Anderson should be doing to at least dig their nails in.

  • Firstly, demonstrate a true love for your craft. It’s hard to believe in a raw young sportswriter who hasn’t yet got out there, launched a blog, written for free (within reason), reached out to those they aspire to and discovered what it is that makes great writing. The best writers are mostly writing, or reading the writers they aspire to.
  • Secondly, develop your personal brand. It’s not an option to ignore social media and scream “corporate sellout,” because part of your value going forward is going to be in the audience you’ve built on networks such as Twitter, Instagram and Periscope. I’m not saying you need 10k+ followers to be a great sportswriter, but what sense is there in leaving that validation on the table? Like it or not, you need to have an established personal brand.
  • Thirdly, find a niche. The lead picture here is of Sam Tighe, a Bleacher Report success story who has climbed from an unpaid gig to become a soccer Lead Writer and expert video/radio analyst. Sam’s success owes to identifying his sweet spot—scouting and tactical analysis—and putting in the yards to build credibility in the space. Hard work, diligence and a willingness to build key relationships have all been a factor, but Sam’s ability to recognize his commodity early on and become an authority has greased his path more than anything else.

That’s not a catch-all, because there is a lot more to this area. But achieve these three things early on and you’re giving yourself a chance.

Will Tidey is Senior Manager, Global, at Bleacher Report.