Taking the plunge
I had always wanted to ‘have a go’ at being a writer but always found a really good excuse not to. As someone who left school when Frankie Goes to Hollywood were dominating the charts, I thought I had probably missed the boat. Having realised that it’s probably never too late, I decided to take the plunge and enrol in The Professional Freelance Journalism Course.
I am glad I did. While I found course challenging, it was also good fun. If you are prepared to be disciplined and actually complete the work, you will be supported at all stages. I liked the fact that an experienced tutor was on hand to give honest advice and feedback and I found the constructive criticism really beneficial. The course structure is good, the tutorials contain relevant information and the assignments provide opportunity to put into practice all that you have learned.
Stepping into the industry
Since completing my course, I have been fortunate enough to have had a couple of articles published. On several occasions now I have also had to present ideas, with a moment’s notice, to editors over the phone. I was able to use my newly developed skills to nervously try and sell each idea to a busy and highly demanding editor. One such idea led to a feature article being published in a popular aircraft magazine. This article was subsequently featured on the magazine’s front cover.
With just a few hours’ warning, I had to expand the feature to include sidebars and other follow on articles and this prompted the editor to move the piece to be a leading article. Another time, at a moment’s notice, I was asked to complete six motorsport related interviews, completely unscripted. By then I was able to think quickly on the spot and ask the questions the viewers of the online channel would want to know the answers to. This unexpectedly led to another unrelated writing job.
I now write for a well-known TV comedian and writer. This is a very different style of writing to my earlier magazine articles, but I am again able to use what I had learned during the BCJ course.
What I’ll take with me
My BCJ course provided a foundation for my further studies in proofreading. I have now learnt about the joys of proofing and copy editing. My understanding of English grammar is better and I also have a broader knowledge of the publishing industry in general.
I was surprised by how much the “Journo Comments” and “Writing Tips!” that featured throughout the course have benefited me, not only for my freelance writing, but it’s good information to be applied across the publishing industry as a whole. The Professional Freelance Journalism Course has plenty of useful guidance, from succinctly pitching a story idea to an editor who has seen it all before, to concentrating on my niche, to also building the confidence to step out of my comfort zone.
The tutorial on photo journalism certainly saved an article of mine. The editor unexpectedly asked me for 12 supporting photos. Luckily I had some to show him. Thanks to this tutorial, I always keep some attached to each article.
I keep my notes and course material for regular reference and only last week referred to them when asked to write a CD music review by the lead singer of a well-known 1980s band that is currently experiencing a highly-publicised revival.
Of course, the real learning starts when you go out into the real world and make a living. The nice thing with this course, is that the College is interested in what happens to you AFTER you complete the course. I very much enjoyed the course and the fact that I could work from home and in my own time. Overall, the course is easy to follow and comes with plenty of information, much of which I have benefitted from already in my writing.
I am glad I made the decision to finally give it a go and would gladly recommend this course to anyone who is serious about becoming a writer or journalist.