Journalism is a career for good communicators who enjoy taking initiative. Most often it starts when you write an article and walk through the process of getting it published. Besides a proactive attitude, three things are important for a good start: the right topic, the right way of communicating, and the right audience for your articles.
Selecting a topic is an exercise of self evaluation each time. It is important to know what topics draw the largest audiences and avoid articles that are too hard for you to handle or is beyond your skill level. Many of the articles that may be beyond your skill level, will have been written about previously by other experienced authors, and not having enough knowledge beyond your skill level could make it difficult for you to add new twists, identify the difference between common and good or wrong.
The best topics to start with as a beginner would be those that are important to you. That is, topics that you are knowledgeably informed about or that you are passionate about and really want to communicate to others.
Selecting your audience is also a question of self evaluation. The best audiences for your articles are those that are within the same areas of expertise and interest as well as age groups. Topics like sports, science, or even fashion, may not be directly linked with age; however, age does play a part on understanding, experience, and perception. Before writing, think about how you would write for the most remote or even most difficult audience in your industry that is usually a good way to start addressing what would be immediately important in those topics. Your mind is already set to not be long-winded and to get to the point, which usually makes good writing and reading.
If you never had the opportunity to write for your high school or college paper, no worries, all is not lost. Try targeting for your initial experiences writing for general, lifestyle, or fan-based magazines to bypass the experience gap. For example, fan-based magazines will have an audience that is already enthusiastic about your topic and therefore possibly easier to write about. With this group, you would not have to sell the topic, just the story. This is the simplest form to exercise your professional communication and to also build your portfolio.
Solicit for more opportunities
After publishing your articles, send copies other publishers along with your ideas for future articles. Most renowned publishers do not have the time for ideas that are in the rough. So it is your responsibility and in your best interest to research solicit opportunities from publishers that are appropriate to your topic or genre of writing.
If your audience connects with your writing and perceives you as unique, the greater your opportunity to launch into a career as a professional journalist; therefore, it is always important to write your own work, build your own voice, and establish your own unique style and identity.
Most successful journalists were not born with this. These are attributes that are developed overtime with practice, skill building, and experience.
Start the writing and publishing process early and never stop; the professional approach to published communication is the development of both ready-made information that you need to research and learn, along with incessant practice of writing.
While pursuing your career in journalism, take courses that will help you develop your writing skills, research, and other areas that will be substantial to your career. Most of these types of courses will help you generate your first portfolio of articles. Second a degree in journalism can also help you secure a career in journalism as well as well paid jobs.
It is very important to choose your journalism studies well, as not all markets great money makers or equally useful. Do research and find out which markets are the best for you and will serve you best in your career development as a professional journalist. In addition, you want to ensure you are receiving the best training and market rates for your incipient work, for the fastest developmental pace for your professional evolution. Organizations like the Society of Professional Journalist (spj.org) and the National Press Club (press.org) are great resources for training, workshops, and networking with other journalism professionals.