When I do my free resume reviews for students and young journalists starting out, many times I either see gaps in employment or not enough internship experience or time on school media platforms.
When I discuss the findings of my reviews, I note the lack of experience or the gaps and ask what they are doing to continue to perfect their craft. I get vague answers about how hard it is to find freelance work, and the conversation peters out.
The lack of freelance work is NOT an excuse. With all the free and low-cost web-based platforms out there, there’s no reason why you can’t use them to showcase your work. I found a great article forwarded to me by one of my Twitter followers from the International Journalist’s Network blog: “Six tips for journalists on launching a successful blog.”
I blog here. I also created AviationQueen.com back in November 2010, and I regularly guest post on journalism and aviation blogs. My blog and others were godsends when I got laid off in October 2011. Some gigs were paid and some were not, but all of them got me exposure and led to job leads.
But blogging is not the only thing you can do. Create a talk show on BlogTalkRadioon the topics you hope to cover. I met Hezzie McCaleb, one of the founders of Barbershop Sports, at the NABJ convention in San Diego. Check out their website and how they use BlogTalkRadio.
Other ideas to get your work out and practice your craft:
Create your own stories using tools like Ustream and post them on your own YouTube or Vimeo channel;
Start a Tumblr blog on a specific topic;
Offer to guest blog on blogs you admire and have some expertise in;
Create your own podcasts using tools such as SoundCloud, Cinch or AudioBoo;
Comment on blogs and websites you admire, using the URL for your blog so people can follow your work; and
Sign up for social media platforms to further promote your work.
I understand that we all have bills to pay, and sometimes we have to take that job outside journalism to make sure we have a roof over our head and food in the fridge. But with all the tools out there, you have zero excuse not to keep up your journalism skills. Good luck!!
Benét J. Wilson is the vice president of education for the NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force. She also serves on the board of the Online News Association. She is the coeditor of AirwaysNews.com and a freelance aviation journalist and blogger.
The desire to build something that no one could ever take away from her is what fueled Rene Syler, former anchor of “The Early Show” on CBS, after her termination in 2006. What Syler wanted to create was a brand, and using the tools of digital media, she did just that and more.
She is now the author of “Good Enough Mother,” a book and supporting blog targeted at “imperfectly perfect” mothers, host of “Sweet Retreats,” a family travel show on the Live Well Network, and co-host of “Exhale”, a provocative talk show in its second season on Magic Johnson’s cable network, Aspire.
What am I going to do now?
A few weeks after losing her job at CBS, Syler underwent a preventative double mastectomy, a journey that was documented on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”. “What am I going to do now?” she asked herself. “I had no job and my body was taking on a different shape.”
After telling her agent of 25 years that she did not want to do television anymore, he asked a similar question, “What am I going to do with you?”
Syler knew she would have to save herself.
“I had been relying on them to get me jobs,” she said. “I could either sit here and wait for the phone to ring or I could make it ring.”
Going digital to build a ‘bonafide brand’
Syler wrote “Good Enough Mother: The Perfectly Imperfect Book of Parenting” and secured the website’s domain in 2005 while still employed at CBS. The following year, she was fired. In 2007, her book was officially published.
“The only skills I had was the ability to write and TV,” she said. “It started with a book.”
Harnessing the power of digital media, Syler began to build what she now calls a “bonafide brand.”
“Your brand needs to be in sync with yourself,” she said. “Good Enough Mother,” the blog, was born.
“I started on Facebook, then moved to Twitter. The more I did it the more I understood its power,” Syler said in regards to her overwhelming introduction to social media.
“After almost 10 years, I have built a bonafide brand,” she said. “People need to think of blogs as living breathing business cards.”
“Good Enough Mother” has partnered with both General Motors and Disney and Syler attributes her recent television success to her digital presence.
Looking back, she said “Good Enough Mother” became much more than a book. It became a movement based on what a lot of women are experiencing.
By Benét J. Wilson, immediate past chair, NABJ Digital Journalism Task Force & social media/eNewsletters editor, Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Editor’s note: the new NABJ Print Task Force needs your help. First, we ask that you join our new listserv, here. Activities will include: print job postings, new hires, training opportunities, freelance positions, town hall meetings, webinars, advocacy opportunities and local, regional and national program planning outreach. Second, please take our quick 10-question Print Member Survey. Your feedback will allow NABJ to better address your concerns and establish your priorities.The deadline to submit your feedback is Thursday, Sept. 12.