You grew up dreaming of becoming the next George Orwell, Hunter S Thomson or [enter teenage idol here]. Deep down, you know that your true purpose in life is to use your gift of writing to *cough* build your CV. You’d like to start pitching to magazines and websites, but aren’t quite sure how exactly, and that’s fair enough really. The process can be daunting, but don’t hesitate, little bird: life will come at you fast… Follow these seven tips to getting started as a student blogger.
1. Create a list of publications that you’d die to blog for.
The list will, obviously, depend on your interests and geographical location. Some newspapers, such as the Huffington Post and the Guardian offer students a platform to blog about a topic of their choice and the opportunity to link to their writing portfolio (which is totally amazing). You may also want to approach industry-specific magazines and websites that align with your interests and/or, if you wish to go down that route, political views.
If you’re keen to write about your experience of student life, studying abroad or finding a job after graduation, you may want to join our community of student bloggers here at TopUniversities.com. Click here for more details.
2. Pitch, and do it well.
A pitch is a small paragraph summarizing what your article will be about, how and why you are qualified to write it and your interviewees (if any). The difficulty lies in revealing just enough to entice the editor, but not so much that you’ll risk your brilliant idea being written in-house.
Think about ways to tailor your pitches to each publication. Most websites, like the New Statesman or Vice, will publish submission guidelines to give writers a rough idea of the style and topics to focus on. Your email should be bold and short, like an elevator pitch.
Getting your first student blog published can be tricky, especially when your writing portfolio is virtually non-existent. But once you’ve achieved a few by-lines, pitching should be made tremendously easier by the simple fact that you’ll be able to link to the articles you’ve had published.
3. Decide on a topic or issue you care about.
Look inwards: what do you care most about? Is it gender equality? Education? Memes? Whatever it is, narrow it down as much as possible. Remember: the best student blogs – or blogs of any kind – are those that explore small and specific topics within much broader and far-reaching contexts.
Don’t worry so much about finding an altogether new topic: most stories and student blogs are about the same issues. Focus instead on developing your own voice and perspective. Tackle moth-eaten topics from a new angle.
4. Stay informed.
Keep up with the latest news to help you come up with lots of interesting ideas for your student blog, and identify any ‘news pegs’ you could mention in your pitches – i.e. references to recent events and developments that make your blog a think piece worthy of the media’s attention.
Start by reading articles online and search for reactions to current events on Twitter. Of course, your research methods are entirely dependent on your interests. If you want to write about cross stitch, then researching the Benghazi trials is unlikely to help you find pegs and hooks…
5. Adopt a conversational flow.
Blogging is a real-time, spur of the moment impulse, so use common nouns and be as economical as possible with your prose. Without doing away with the authenticity and grain of your voice, banish long sentences, repetitions and flowery language from your copy.
6. Get your facts straight.
Always fact-check. Are you making any false accusations, misquoting people to suit your agenda or citing out-of-date statistics? Include links to your sources as much as possible and, if possible, to articles or videos that you’ve mentioned.
7. Accept that rejection is inevitable.
Rejection stings, but it’s unavoidable. Most, if not all, writers and journalists have been through the experience of receiving countless rejection emails (or letters, or phone calls, or telegrams). Ask yourself: why are you writing? If the answer is ‘to get famous’, then perhaps it’s time to question your motivations for student blogging. But if it’s ‘because I can’t help it’ or ‘because it feels right’, then you’ll know you’re on the right track and that you should carry on.
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