Being a journalist and telling a story to your audience is something that you can do either online or offline. When you are a journalist offline (perhaps in traditional media), you may find that you are a bit restricted to what you can publish and then subsequently edit. However, when you are a journalist online, you can publish (and then edit or add to) your work even after it has been published.
A career in digital journalism is exciting as there are lots of opportunities available for local and national outlets.
12 Tips For Starting Your Career In Digital Journalism
A digital journalism role could allow you to realize your writing ambitions, and it could help you to share what you want to say with online audiences who are ready to listen. So, have you got what it takes to succeed in digital journalism?
Have you got the skills, experience, and knowledge required to turn your love of writing into a fast-paced career?
1. Start Laying Out Your Future Goals and Aspirations
To begin the process, you have to start by establishing just what your goals and aspirations are for the future. What position do you see yourself in and by when? It s important to lay out goals and aspirations early on in your digital journalism career because they give you something to work towards.
Without goals to focus on, you may find that your career does not go in the direction you want it to. You may also find that you struggle to build a strong and long-lasting career without at least a few goals and aspirations to work towards. So, before you miss out on any opportunities, why not take some time out to establish some goals for the next couple of years.
For example, is one of your goals to secure steady work? Or, is it to get an article or submission featured on your favorite website or blog? Putting down your hopes and your goals will help them become more realistic and achievable.
2. Focus on Your Education
Simply wanting to be a digital journalist is not going to be enough to allow you to achieve success. To become a respected journalist, you have to focus on your education, both at the start of your career and over time too.
Education plays a huge role in journalism, and in digital journalism, education can help you to form captivating stories and articles as well as help you spot opportunities and even help you identify breaking stories. When you focus on your education, you ensure that you are giving your readers and fans the full package.
Education in journalism will prepare you for what readers need and what they want, and it will also ensure that your writing and approach to journalism are professional both from the outset and moving forwards.
3. Focus on Writing and Delivery
How you deliver your content and what you write is important to your career, and it is a key element that you must always focus on. The style that you write in and the tone that you use will more than likely become your signature style, so it is important that you hones it as well as you can (and as soon as you can).
It is also important to remember that the tone you write in and how you deliver a story can make a difference in how successful you are as a writer. Bringing an article or story to life online and really engaging readers in the process are what you need to be focusing on.
As your writing skills are essential to your role, you should ensure that you practice writing as much as possible. Practice writing engaging content, and also practice writing persuasive content. The more depth and variety that you can add to your writing (and delivery) then the more successful your career in digital journalism will be.
4. Focus on Your Reporting Skills
All journalists (both new and old) have to have excellent reporting skills. If your reporting skills are not as good as they can be, then you will struggle to succeed as a journalist. When it comes to your reporting skills, you need to ensure that you practice and improve as much as you can.
You need to be the best reporter that you can be, and to make this, you have to actively listen to others, and you have to have passion for what you are reporting on. If you are disinterested in what you are writing about, then this will show in how you write and what you write.
Improving your reporting skills and becoming a better reporter often goes in hand with a career in digital journalism, and you will often find that improved reporting skills help you to get the story or the angle you need.
5. Discover Your Creative Flair
To build and create a career as a digital journalist, you have to discover your creative flair, and you have to harness it wherever you can. Competition for journalist roles and positon is fierce, especially in digital media, and it is important that your creative flair shines as brightly as it can.
If your creative flair for writing is not visible or not even easy to gauge from your writing and journalistic work, then your audience will struggle to be captivated and motivated. When your audience is not captivated, you will struggle to push forwards in your career, as your pieces will not be getting the traction or attention that they need.
Your creative flair for writing and even for storytelling is within you; all you have to do is awaken it. To help the process, you could try falling in love with your words once more. As a journalist, you can feel that you are losing your creative or artistic flair along the way. However, this is not always true.
Sometimes focusing too much on what you perceive is an issue can actually end up holding you back (and even restricting you). So, if you happen to feel that your creative flair has disappeared or is lacking, then fear not and panic less. Take a step back and remember why you wanted a career in journalism, and you will then find that everything just becomes a little clearer.
6. Stay True to Your Passion
In your pursuit of a digital journalism career, it can be easy to lose sight of what you want to achieve. Therefore, it is important that you always stay true to your passion. When you focus on your passion and on harnessing your skills and attributes, you can be sure that you are staying true to yourself, and this is something that a good journalist should do.
If you deviate from your passion, or if you stray from where your passion lies, then you may well end up reporting badly or producing lackluster content. To ensure that you stay true to your passion, you always need to think about what direction you are going in and why.
This is again where goals and aspirations come in useful. When you have goals to work towards, you can be sure that you never stray too far from your passion.
7. Perfecting Your Communication Skills
A career in digital journalism is more than just being a great wordsmith; it is about being a great communicator too. When you can communicate effectively and efficiently with those around you, then you can make the most of the piece you are working on, and you can then also put yourself in a strong position with your career too.
You can get a lot of value from good communication, and healthy and strong communication must always be maintained. If your communication skills are not to the standard, you would expect them to be or need them to be. Then you need to start working on improving them.
Communication is the key to successful working relationships, and it is important that you use communication at all levels and with all groups of people that you come into contact with. Practicing how you communicate with everyone, including with family and friends, will help you to build your confidence.
8. Get Active on Social Media
It is important that you have a social media presence as a digital journalist. Readers, fans, and followers want to be able to communicate with you, and they want to keep up to date with what you are doing.
Similarly, you will want to keep up with the social media world as a lot of stories develop and happen online, and so it is a win-win scenario. Being active on social media can be time-consuming, but it is important that you dedicate a set amount of time to it each and every day.
Just 5 -10 minutes spent a day on social media can help you build your profile and your reputation.
9. Focus on Your Reputation
Your reputation as a journalist should be something that is highly valued and respected. To accomplish this, you need to look at what makes a good journalist and then emulate this as best as you can.
When you are starting out, you may not realize the importance of your reputation, however as time progresses (and especially within digital journalism), you will realize that your reputation can and will have an impact on how your work is valued, read, and even appreciated.
If, for example, you begin to develop a reputation for bending the truth or even distorting the facts, then this can be hard to shake and definitely hard to remove because you leave a trail online. As your reputation is important throughout your whole career as a journalist, you should ensure that you carefully consider and think about what you do and say.
10. Begin Building a Strong Network
Connecting with other professionals is an essential part of your job in the digital journalism
sector, even if this means that you only connect online. Building strong networks with a wide variety of people, including editors, other writers, and key people of influence, will help you to get new opportunities.
It will also help you run with new opportunities and get stories that are breaking before others. Building a strong network is not just about collecting as many contact details as you can. It is about connecting with people that can help you and add value to your role and career.
When you focus on only adding useful contacts, you can be sure that you have a strong network to utilize and even fall back on at any stage.
11. Looking at Voluntary Opportunities
When you are starting out in digital journalism, it can be tough going, especially when you are new and focusing on building up a strong reputation. You may therefore find it beneficial to build your resume by looking at voluntary opportunities, including internships.
Getting relevant work experience will help you to land the role that you want, and it will help you to see just what type of journalist you want to be.
If you do not focus on building up your experience as soon as you can, then you may end up taking a role (or falling) into a role that does not allow you to be the best journalist.
12. Improving and Mastering Your Digital Skills
As you will be predominantly working online as a digital journalist, it is important that you focus on improving and mastering a wide variety of digital skills. After all, this will make you more efficient and effective in your role.
The more experience, practice, and knowledge you have with various software packages and publishing packages, then the more enjoyable your job will be, and the more productive you can expect to be. Investing in your skill-set and investing your time and energy into digital mastering skills will put you in good stead for your future and your digital journalism career.
Take time out to discover which packages editors are using, and also look at what other writers and journalists are using. Then this way, you will be able to master the skills and knowledge that really matter within the digital journalism industry.