I don’t know when it happened, but it seems I’ve become one of the people in snowboard “journalism” others look up to. When I was just starting out it was people like Dave England, Dave Carnie and yeah, even Pat Bridges for me. I still have a hard time feeling good about comparing myself to these people (and not just cause I am a girl) but it seems like are some people out there who would. One thing all these guys shared, other than being funny dudes, was that I was a little bit afraid of them. Pat used to invite me to breakfast and I would show up to find him smoking cigs and playing pro boarders in his underwear, so that’s the main reason he made me nervous… But mostly, I think it’s that they were doing what I wanted to do, and doing it well. I remember I called Dave England for the first time working on a feature for Crossrocket, and as I fumbled to explain who I was, he nonchalantly replied, “Yeah, I know who you are.” It was probably one the highlights of my career.
Anyway, I guess now that I’ve got some years under my belt, and some steady work (although I could always use more!) I am willing and qualified to give some advice. So here are my top 5 tips for “making it” as a freelance writer in action sports.
1. Don’t ever expect anyone to edit you. This is not to say you will not be edited, and often for the worse, but don’t assume someone else will fact check. Check the spelling of everyone’s names. Proofread! Run spell check. Basically, turn in everything you write ready to be published. That way nothing can slip through the cracks.
2. Practice what you preach. Action sports are about passion and it’s much easier to gain respect if you can keep up. Seriously. And if you’re not good, at least have fun doing it.
3. Go the extra mile. Now I am one of the laziest people I know, but it’s no reason not to actually put effort into your stories. Offer readers something they don’t already know. Do what the editor wants and then do a little bit more. Worse case scenario it gets taken out, but it will likely cut down your workload over all: chances are it won’t come back for revisions.
4. Pay attention to deadlines. Honestly, every action sports “deadline” is negotiable, but you’ll still get more work if editors know you’re going to get it done, and close to on time.
5. Be cool. With iChat (the best invention ever for freelancing) it can be easy to become a nuisance. Use it to check in and remind people you exist, but if you start getting brief (or no) responses, back off. In person, don’t be afraid to talk and show your personality, but don’t be annoying. Sure, you can be a great writer, but if no one wants to deal with you, you’ll never get any work.
I said five so that’s the list, but one more in conclusion: Diversify. When freelancing never put all your eggs in one basket, it’s called job security.