Top Three Tips To Become A Tech Journalist
Whilst I haven't always been able to consistently update this humble little blog, I'll always be grateful for it. Why? Because it was the key to me finally landing my dream job as a journalist.
As a Senior Entertainment Writer at Tech Advisor, I've been able to have some truly 'pinch me' career moments. I've travelled the world for various launches and events, and brushed shoulders with Hollywood talent at premieres for films and TV shows. I've interviewed some incredible people, and have reviewed some of the latest tech products to help readers decide whether they are worth buying.
Naturally, I am listing the highlights here - there is still a lot of work that goes on behind the gloss. That said, I'm proud to be part of the tech writing world - everyone is extremely kind and welcoming, which I know isn't the case across all sectors of journalism. If you're considering becoming a reporter and aren't sure what beat to chase, then I'd invite you to be curious about this one.
As a disclaimer, I didn't study journalism or communications at university, so my route to a full-time role was a bit of a squiggly one. Nonetheless, I hope that these top tips can be useful for anyone, regardless of your education or background.
Start Defining Your Voice Early
I know you've probably heard this advice before, but if you're even considering this as a career, then you'll need a portfolio behind you before you can start landing professional work.
The majority of editors will want some proof that you can write (or edit, if you're going into video/audio news). So, start thinking about all the ways that you can showcase your 'brand', if you will. Here are all the things I did that led me into paid work:
Started a radio show in sixth-form college on one of my free blocks
Wrote blog posts about student life on Her Campus at university
Co-wrote a column for the university newspaper about my experiences at different societies
Created The London Geek after graduation as a way to explore my interests in nerd culture
Not all of those projects still sit on my CV today, but they all acted as gateways to one another. I wouldn't have landed the newspaper gig had I not already written for Her Campus, and me and my friend ended up winning an award for our contributions to the publication.
All the feedback I got from the edits helped me in my own writing journey, and made me truly think about what niche subject I wanted to define my interests. My knowledge of superheroes and other geeky TV shows proved extremely valuable for my current role on the entertainment section of Tech Advisor.
Therefore, if you want to get into tech writing, consider pitching a column at your university newspaper about this subject, or hosting a segment at a local radio station, or starting a podcast (or go old school and do a blog like me). If you're studying in higher education, see if there are any electives that teach 'hard skills' like video editing, camera work or media law. You never know when they might come in useful.
Think About Adjacent Roles To Journalism
I won't lie, journalism is extremely competitive - landing a foot in the door for your first role is tricky, and it wasn't something I was able to do.
Internships are not only popular, but often not very well paid and based in London - so living costs are astronomical. Thankfully most unpaid work is being stamped out now, but that also used to be a thing back when I graduated.
If jumping in at the bottom of the ladder isn't an option, then look for roles that still teach you writing and editing skills. For example, I started in PR (public relations), which involved crafting press releases and building relationships with journalists. Then, I moved to content marketing, which allowed me to mentor younger writers and hone my own editing craft. Finally, I made the jump to journalism.
Tech is a huge world, and there are all kinds of roles in marketing, production and social media that will still allow you to flex your creative muscles and gain experience in the workplace without having to compete in an already crowded market.
Use Your Experience To Land Freelance Gigs
So, you've got the blog/podcast/YouTube channel, and you've got a creative job. Now what? Well, editors will often take notice if you've got a great byline on your CV or social media, so start making connections.
My first freelance gig came from me being a bit gung-ho, and an editor very kindly throwing me a bone. I'd already got in contact with the PR for MCM Comic-Con London (using my blog work as my portfolio) to land an interview with puppeteer Brian Herring, who has worked on Star Wars and most recently, Doctor Who. The article would have gone on my blog, but when I went along to a writing panel I decided to get up an ask a question about advice for breaking into the industry.
An editor of Den of Geek told me to speak to him after the panel with some ideas. I mentioned my interview, and he said he'd let me post it on the website. Several edits later (along with some valuable lessons learned), my post was live. It was truly a milestone moment.
I landed this piece in my early twenties, but there's no reason why you can't start earlier. I've seen some incredible breakout journalists across tech, gaming and entertainment who have pitched whilst they've been studying. And truly, what a great way to earn some extra cash - much more enjoyable than my tiring shifts at the local convenience store.
If you're looking to break into tech journalism, then I'd advise just looking for publications you admire, and discovering new ones. Check out the bylines of the editors, and then give them a follow on social media channels like Twitter/X, Bluesky and Threads. Often editors may post call-outs for pitches, so then you can start honing your ideas. Networking events and panels are also brilliant opportunities to meet new people.
Some people manage to make freelancing their full-time writing gig. It takes work, but can reap many rewards - including being more selective over what you write, and full autonomy over your hours. I recommend looking at Journo Resources for more advice on this - it's been a godsend for me in the past.