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How to Write Sports Articles & Get Paid

by Ron White

If you consider yourself a sports fan and also have strong writing ability, you may wish to combine the two by becoming a sports writer. With the maturation of the Internet as a medium, opportunities abound for sports writer. You can carve out a full-fledged career or use sports writing to supplement your primary income. By choosing a career path and following some basic steps, you can turn the written word into a rewarding paycheck.

Newspaper Staff Writer

One path to earning money as a sports writer involves landing a newspaper staff writer job. Newspapers employ one or more sports writers to cover local sports. These reporters cover prep, college and professional athletics by writing game stories, opinion columns and human interest stories. Newspapers look for writers who have experience. A college degree helps too. To prepare yourself for a job as a newspaper sports writer, attend a college or university and work on the school's newspaper staff. Cover as much sports as possible. Additionally, you should seek out internship opportunities. Newspaper internships are available at most newspapers for fall, spring and summer semesters. After graduation, search for jobs using various resources, including JournalismJobs.com, which lists openings across the United States. You must include a cover letter, resume and clips of your work when you submit an application for a newspaper reporter job. Salaries for full-time sportswriters begin at $20,000, and some veteran sports writers earn more than $75,000 per year.

Newspaper Stringer

If you lack the work experience or degree requirements to gain full-time work as a newspaper sports writer, you can take an alternate route. Many newspaper editors, and especially sports editors, farm out stories to freelance writers, who work on contract. Sports editors pay freelancers, sometimes called stringers, per assignment. Most stories require you to cover a prep or college game in the area. Sports editors maintain a short list of responsible, high-quality freelance writers, and these individuals often receive regular assignments. Some freelancers write two or more stories per week. To launch a career as a sports freelance writer, contact sports editors at local newspapers. You can call or send email. Express your interest in writing freelance stories and provide your name and contact information. Also include information about your writing experience, sports knowledge and other qualifications. Attach a digital file, preferably a Microsoft Word document or PDF, with copies of sports articles that you've written. If the sports editor likes what he sees, he will call you or send an email explaining the process. Ordinarily, you must sign paperwork, including an IRS Form W-9 and a contract. Once approved to do freelance work for the newspaper, pitch story ideas to the sports editor. You also must provide the editor with information about your availability. If you do good work, you'll receive additional story opportunities.

Freelance Magazine Work

National and regional sports magazines provide opportunities for anyone to earn money writing sports articles. Publications such as Sports Illustrated and ESPN the Magazine are very selective about the freelance writers and materials they publish, but lesser-known publications, including those focused on a particular sport, provide greater opportunity for freelancers. Send query letters to editors at sports magazines expressing your interest in writing a specific story. Include your name, contact information and samples of your work. In the letter, detail what the story will report, why it's of interest to the publication's readers and why you're the best person to write the story. If an editor likes a story idea, you'll receive a phone call or email with an offer stating pay, length of the article and deadline. You'll need to fill out paperwork and write and submit the story by the deadline. Magazines usually pay within three months of publication.

Website Work

The Internet provides ample opportunity for sports writers to earn money. Some online publications, such as MaxPreps.com and Rivals.com, hire freelancers to provide sports coverage. In addition, some sports news sites accept freelance work. You must solicit online freelance work in the same way you would if you were attempting to write for a magazine. Alternatively, you can create your own website and earn money by hosting ads from Google's AdSense and other Web advertising services. Ads appear on your site, and you earn income based on site traffic and the number of visitors who click on the ads.

About the Author

Based in Central Florida, Ron White has worked as professional journalist since 2001. He specializes in sports and business. White started his career as a sportswriter and later worked as associate editor for Maintenance Sales News and as the assistant editor for "The Observer," a daily newspaper based in New Smyrna Beach, Fla. White has written more than 2,000 news and sports stories for newspapers and websites. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Eastern Illinois University.

Photo Credits

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