How To Become A Car Journalist
In the age of information, anything and everything is possible if you put the time in and set your mind to something. For example, you might be wondering how to become a journalist in the bustling EV space.
Like E4TP, if we can toot our electric horn for a minute.
We’ll answer this question, and many others you might have relating to car journalism, in the post.
This includes everything from establishing a portfolio, to starting out as a car journalist.
Follow our advice to the letter, and you could make a name for yourself in the electric vehicle segment.
You could become a key player in one of the largest growing markets going today. Playing your part in the future of transport, imagine that!
And who knows, maybe you’ll write for E4TP in the not so distant future.
As a car journalist, your job is to inform and engage the masses
How To Become A Journalist
A career in journalism is to question the reality of things each and everyday.
No small task, when you consider how much attention you and your work will receive.
Everyday is a school day, more so when it comes to electric vehicles, given how fast the tech evolves and the number of companies involved in the game.
So, how does one become an electric car journalist? Or a journalist, in general.
Well, it’s a loaded question as it can apply to a range of mediums, be it broadcast, print or digital.
Still, we’ll assist the best we can.
Becoming a journalist isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but if you dedicate your all to it, you’ll succeed.
Step One: Get A Job At A Local Newspaper
If you’re entering the wonderfully wide world of journalism then you need to start somewhere.
For a lot of people, getting a job with your local newspaper will help — at least for the short term, allowing you to get a better hang of the fundamentals.
Experience is everything to a journalist, so putting yourself in a situation that demands your complete undivided attention will yield the best results, nine times out of ten.
Reporters at a local level won’t be paid an awful lot, and may have to deal with stories that are the opposite of interesting.
Still, experience is experience, at the end of the day.
Remember, every car journalist had to start somewhere. Even Jeremy Clarkson!
“I started small, on the Shropshire Star with little Peugeots and Fiats and worked my way up to Ford Granadas and Rovers until, after about seven years, I was allowed to drive an Aston Martin Lagonda.” b-quote
— Jeremy Clarkson, on writing for the Shropshire Star.
Step Two: Write Reviews For News Outlets/Websites
Once you have a basic understanding of journalism, the next step is to move into areas that interest you.
In this case, that would be electric cars.
News/media outlets are always on the look out for new writers, regardless of their past experience.
Showing enthusiasm and having a great eye for detail, tends to get your foot in the door. That being said, you need to show that you can write first.
Our advice would be to study the content already on the site. Get a feel for tone of voice, paragraph length, and how it’s structured overall.
Take a long hard look at the words used and create a mental profile tied to who you’re writing for.
Trust us, it helps when it comes to writing for the outlet in question.
A Word For Future Journalists: Many employers/outlets will ask you to send them copies of your previous work to get a better understanding of your current level.
A lot of it is unpaid, which some see as a hindrance.
Try to think of it as an exhibition in writing before you move up another weight class.
Besides, building a diverse portfolio will allow your confidence to grow.
It can also serve as a reference point when reaching out to new websites/outlets.
The more you write, the better off you’ll be.
Step Three: Get A Degree In Journalism
Barriers to entry do stop a lot of self-taught writers from breaking through.
Which is why it pays to get a degree in journalism.
Many will try to convince you that a degree is a complete waste of time. Try your best to ignore these people.
And let’s face it, they enrolled at uni for the lifestyle, or expected to land their dream job as soon as they graduated.
Finding the right fit can take time.
With a degree in journalism, you’ll learn more about writing, yes, but you’ll also be put in real-world situations that simulate what it’s like to work as a journalist in the real world.
You’ll also be taught by legitimate journalists who have lived the life and can tell you what it takes.
But is it hard to find a job with a journalism degree?
Yes and no.
It depends on how dedicated you are.
A degree in journalism is just a piece of paper with no merit if you lack the ability to apply yourself.
Electric vehicles have already inspired countless journalists to document the rise
How Much Does A Journalist Make?
It’s a popular question, and with good reason.
How much does a journalist make for a living?
The answer varies.
Broadcast journalists at the top of the scale, are earning up to £37,000 a year (in London).
Staff writers and interns tend to sit somewhere near the bottom, earning around £15,000 on average.
Again, this does vary depending on the location of the office, and what sector you’re looking to enter.
For content writing positions, most jobs will net you around £18,000 to £20,000 per annum.
Working for the BBC is considered the pinnacle of aspiring journalists in the UK. This is probably due to how much you can get paid for being under its umbrella!
A cushy Broadcast Journalist role at BBC News pays up to £25,000 a year outside of London.
And then there’s the freelancers.
Freelancing means you work for yourself, meaning you set your own hours (for the most part) and discover new opportunities solo.
Some freelancers set their own rates per how many words written.
However, most outlets/sites do have set rates for new writers to follow.
Freelancers can make a lot more money than a traditional journalist, but generally have to have a stellar portfolio of previously published work.
So if it’s your dream to work in journalism, the sooner you start getting your work published, the better!
Building a detailed portfolio will get your foot in the door each and every time
Essential: Build Up Your Journalism Portfolio
Your portfolio is everything, especially when it comes to attracting new opportunities/work.
In fact, showcasing an in-depth body of work will put you ahead of the competition, every time.
Want to know why most car journalists succeed?
They have a portfolio that puts their best work forward.
When applying for journalism-related roles, you’d usually include the following:
- A CV
- Samples of Work (Portfolio)
- Effective Cover Letter*
*A cover letter should specify why you’re going for the job/why you want to work for them. Not to mention any relevant experience you’ve gathered up to that point.
We should mention that you don’t always need to send a cover letter — or a CV, for that matter.
Your journalistic portfolio is all you really need when contacting editors in search of writing opportunities.
It’s why you need to make sure yours is the best it can be before you even think about making enquiries.
Get Published To Strengthen Your Portfolio
A published credit next to your name carries a lot of weight in terms of how strong your portfolio is/can be.
Sure, you can create your own content in the style of the site/company you’re aiming for, but the value of published content trumps all.
It’s social proof- you’re demonstrating that someone else has taken the risk editors perceive when hiring new writers, and that that risk paid off for them.
To this end, quality beats quantity, meaning you should always choose your best published works when putting together your own portfolio.
Try to keep your portfolio fairly moderately sized, if you can.
By all means share all of your content on a portfolio site such as Wakelet, but ensure that you highlight featured posts in order to receive more responses from potential opportunities.
You know, published posts that you know are a cut above some of the others you’ve written.
As a general rule of thumb, we’d recommend you pick out three to five posts tops.
Make these posts your top five and shop them around to the sites/publications you want to get involved with.
Let’s use an example, let’s say you want to write for E4TP.
Sending us a portfolio of three to five pieces on electric vehicles would be more than enough for us to give you the green light — as long as the writing was of a high quality.
How To Find Writing Opportunities
There are multiple ways in which you can find writing opportunities that appeal to you.
Social media, for example, is an untapped gold mine that never runs dry.
Facebook is known for various job pages, too.
There’s also the Mecca of writing/job opportunities in LinkedIn.
For more consistent work, see dedicated sites such as Upwork and Fiverr, as mentioned.
Both sites act as a marketplace for freelance writers.
There must be hundreds of thousands of projects listed on these sites, projects that are just waiting for you to get involved.
We’ve heard stories of people working their way up the ladder, having found these projects through freelancing forums.
Some have even become editors themselves.
Another option would be to cold pitch at the site you want to write for.
In other words, contact an editor directly via email with your journalism portfolio attached and let them know what you can do. This is a bit of a longshot, and more often than not tends to be filtered out by spam filters — editors can get hundreds of submissions queries like this a day!
How To Write A Submissions Query
So you’ve stumbled upon a site with a submissions box at the bottom of the page, and are wondering how to proceed?
No problem, we’re here to help.
Easily the most important aspect of filling in this form is to come up with a strong hook at the beginning.
Come out of the gate swinging.
When filling in a submissions query, remember to:
- Define the reason for your message
- Refer to the person you’re writing to by name (if known)
- Talk about your experience a little
- Pitch some ideas?
It can be easy to fall into the trap of simply listing what it is you do, and why you’d be a good fit.
But the majority of these sites champion creativity, above all else, so it’s important that you sell yourself but try not to be so uniform about it.
Do it in a way that sells you to other people; be arrogant if you like.
Remember, this is your one shot of telling an editor — or whoever might be looking — that you’re worth bringing in.
Uniqueness is better than thoroughness, if executed well enough.
Try To Stick To One Lane
Overreaching is one of the biggest killers as far as creativity and writing goes.
Spreading yourself too thin will have a negative impact on your writing; unless you’re super human and can handle having your hands buried in multiple different pies.
Car journalism though, like anything in the tech landscape, requires your complete attention, if you’re to write about it for a living — or just every now and then.
First off, you need a basic understanding of how the industry works and the key manufacturers making it all.
From there you need to know the differences between an electric car and a standard ICE vehicle. For example, did you know that most electric cars are all automatic?
No? Well now you know.
Small bits of info like this will come in handy.
If you’ve been following electric vehicles as long as we have then you should have no problem writing about it.
Still, for those with no prior experience, you need to study.
Our advice would be to emerge yourself in it.
All of this will help in some way or other if you hope to one day be an electric car journalist.
And remember, stay in your lane if you have any hopes to prosper.
Electric vehicles continue to shock the world, it’s what makes them so interesting to write about
Write For Us Here At E4TP
And this brings us to the end of our post her on how to become a car journalist.
If any of this was helpful to you, and you want to get started on growing your journalist portfolio, why not write for Electric 4 The People?
If you have any interest in the electric vehicle world, and are fairly confident in your abilities as a writer, our submissions window is now open.
Not every submission will be accepted, but if you’re prepared to do the research and write detailed, engaging content you’re in with a good chance.
Hit the big blue button above that reads ‘Get In Touch’ now and send us your best written articles on the subject of electric vehicles.