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Thread: Insight on international sporting market?

  1. #1
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    Insight on international sporting market?

    Hi all,

    I'm a new freelance writer about to go overseas and try writing for magazines.

    The market I have initially been targeting is travel, but it'd be cool to find a more specific niche that sends me all around the world. I love to travel but don't necessarily want to be a travel writer. An alternative is journalism, reporting events, but it seems that would tie me down to one place if I was to be any good at it (it takes time to get the know the history, actors, etc., you can't just up and leave after 4 months).

    An interesting option would be to follow international sporting events around the world. Look at a calendar and sort of time it out to follow cool sporting events (particularly adventure sports, but I'm open minded). Let's say the Malaysian Grand Prix and then a week later some yacht race is going on in Singapore.

    Any successful freelancers that can give me insight into this market, and if it is a viable one to specialize in? I understand I'd have to supplement it with other markets, but it'd be a cool specialty.

  2. #2
    Getting better all the time AW Moderator Melina's Avatar
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    I have never attempted to pitch a market outside of the US, but there are hundreds of international writers here on AW. Take a tour around the boards, and chat up some of our members.

    Here's a blog by a writer in New Delhi, India, who I became acquainted with here: http://www.mridukhullar.com/journal/...l-freelancers/

    In this post, she addresses finding international markets. One of her tips is to use Google, and that's where I'd start, were I you.

    Good luck, and happy hunting!
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    Thank you Melina! You make a good point that I should work on networking with other writers. I've been kind of going at it on my own researching magazines.

    I suppose most people won't have experience in this area. Maybe it's better to ask--in general, does my idea sound too specific? As a writer do you find you need to have a very diverse set of queries going out the door? Or do you specialize?

    I figure after covering enough of these events, you'd end of with knowledge of a number of the sports (again, Grand Prix as an example they have them every couple of months) and probably develop a structured approach to how you cover them. The question is can I find enough customers who need the coverage.

  4. #4
    Getting better all the time AW Moderator Melina's Avatar
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    Most freelancers will advise you to find a narrow area in which to specialize. While it's not easy in some niches, there are many ways to make your niche fit into multiple publications if you use your imagination. Specializing helps you to establish yourself as an authority on your subject, and helps you get more work. Sports is a pretty wide open subject area, so I really don't think you're narrowing yourself too much there. Maybe if you specialized in curling, or something obscure like that, it would be too narrow...
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    Yea I just found a guy who specifically does F1, and follows them all over the world (thanks to that blog link you posted). He has his own publication and then appears to do work with a lot of major magazines and newspapers, who presumably come to him as an authority on F1 events. So my idea is actually not specific enough and I need to figure out which sports circuit would be interesting to cover, and identify those markets.

  6. #6
    Getting better all the time AW Moderator Melina's Avatar
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    And with that, you're already on your way!

    You've really stumbled upon a goldmine of writer-networking opportunity here at AW...you should definitely pop in and introduce yourself on the Newbies board, and probably take a peek at the International boards, too.

    Good luck! Enjoy your time here at AW, and soak up all the info our generous veterans give freely...
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  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rennet View Post
    Hi all,

    I'm a new freelance writer about to go overseas and try writing for magazines.

    The market I have initially been targeting is travel, but it'd be cool to find a more specific niche that sends me all around the world. I love to travel but don't necessarily want to be a travel writer. An alternative is journalism, reporting events, but it seems that would tie me down to one place if I was to be any good at it (it takes time to get the know the history, actors, etc., you can't just up and leave after 4 months).

    An interesting option would be to follow international sporting events around the world. Look at a calendar and sort of time it out to follow cool sporting events (particularly adventure sports, but I'm open minded). Let's say the Malaysian Grand Prix and then a week later some yacht race is going on in Singapore.

    Any successful freelancers that can give me insight into this market, and if it is a viable one to specialize in? I understand I'd have to supplement it with other markets, but it'd be a cool specialty.
    As you apparently found out, that's not a thing, unless you're like Frank Deford.

    Sports writers who travel to cover yachting events write about yachting. Those who cover the Grand Prix write about racing, etc.

    However, most of the minor sports, like these, don't use freelancers who get sent round the world to cover yachting. There are in-house reporters for big-deal pubs that cover something that specific, there are also reporters other places, there are wire reports, you can write a story about a yacht race even if you're not there, etc.

    Being an international random sports journalist just isn't a thing unless, as I mentioned, you're already an already-working big name at a major pub (big name either in editorial or public circles).

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    Quote Originally Posted by cornflake View Post
    As you apparently found out, that's not a thing, unless you're like Frank Deford.

    Sports writers who travel to cover yachting events write about yachting. Those who cover the Grand Prix write about racing, etc.

    However, most of the minor sports, like these, don't use freelancers who get sent round the world to cover yachting. There are in-house reporters for big-deal pubs that cover something that specific, there are also reporters other places, there are wire reports, you can write a story about a yacht race even if you're not there, etc.

    Being an international random sports journalist just isn't a thing unless, as I mentioned, you're already an already-working big name at a major pub (big name either in editorial or public circles).
    I thought I found out the opposite--it is a thing. I lost the guy's name but he has spent his career going around covering Grand Prix races. He started doing it by traveling around Europe living out of a tent and writing about it.

    It also doesn't seem accurate that big name pubs send their own people rather than use freelancers. Like the Grand Prix guy, many major publications use him because he's way better than anyone they have on staff. Also the Grand Prix is sort of a lower tier sport for many parts of the world, it's held every couple months in a different part of the world, not worth the investment for a lot of publications to send their own person

    I appreciate the candid feedback but feel like we're coming to opposite conclusions with the same information

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    And just to add, I'm not planning on anyone covering my expenses. The reason I started with the idea of covering a variety of events is I could sort of follow them around the world and get to the next one cheaply

  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rennet View Post
    I thought I found out the opposite--it is a thing. I lost the guy's name but he has spent his career going around covering Grand Prix races. He started doing it by traveling around Europe living out of a tent and writing about it.

    It also doesn't seem accurate that big name pubs send their own people rather than use freelancers. Like the Grand Prix guy, many major publications use him because he's way better than anyone they have on staff. Also the Grand Prix is sort of a lower tier sport for many parts of the world, it's held every couple months in a different part of the world, not worth the investment for a lot of publications to send their own person

    I appreciate the candid feedback but feel like we're coming to opposite conclusions with the same information
    No, sorry, I meant covering various things is not a thing unless you're.... like as you had in your original post, the yacht race to the Grand Prix.

    Certainly writers who cover a sport follow their sport, hence I said yacht writers write about yachting.

    I also didn't say big-name pubs send people rather than use freelancers. I said, "there are in-house reporters (by which I mean there are reporters who work for the pub who may be someplace already, or may write about a thing regardless of where they are)...there are also reporters other places (which is what that guy is)."

    I was differentiating a freelancer being hired and sent, on the publication's dime, to cover an event, from someone there for whatever reason (they live there, they happen to be there for a different publication or reason, etc.), who is just paid for the piece.

    I had been presuming, from this -

    but it'd be cool to find a more specific niche that sends me all around the world.
    That you were looking for outlets to pay for your travel and expenses.

    If you're simply looking for ways to sell articles here and there on events you want to pay to travel to yourself, that's a different and more attainable animal. Though the above still applies - a pub can still stick in a wire story. It's got to be useful, interesting, and your bailiwick.

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    Good points all, thank you. The basic goal is to be the 'guy who happens to be there,' and can differentiate myself from other potential freelancers covering the event. The differentiation seems to come from specialization, so I have some more work to do figuring out what that would be.

  12. #12
    Heckuva good sport frimble3's Avatar
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    To cover the events from a sporting angle, you have to learn enough about the sports you are covering to describe them well, not just the event, but the history of the sport, the players, background, etc. The same problems as journalism. People can get 'just the scores' off the Internet, without you.
    I'm thinking that you'd have to be a heck of a writer to pull off "Golly, gee, it's my first _______!" more than once.

    You might try writing about the 'event', the prep, the crowds, the 'colour'. Do people go out to watch yacht races, and what do they do in what seems like the interminable time while the yachts are out of sight of land? What's it like backstage at the elephant polo matches? How do the locals feel about an event that turns their daily lives upside down? How does running with the bulls feel, if you're not Hemingway?
    Things you can learn by being there, looking around, taking an interest.

  13. #13
    practical experience, FTW cornflake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frimble3 View Post
    To cover the events from a sporting angle, you have to learn enough about the sports you are covering to describe them well, not just the event, but the history of the sport, the players, background, etc. The same problems as journalism. People can get 'just the scores' off the Internet, without you.
    I'm thinking that you'd have to be a heck of a writer to pull off "Golly, gee, it's my first _______!" more than once.

    You might try writing about the 'event', the prep, the crowds, the 'colour'. Do people go out to watch yacht races, and what do they do in what seems like the interminable time while the yachts are out of sight of land? What's it like backstage at the elephant polo matches? How do the locals feel about an event that turns their daily lives upside down? How does running with the bulls feel, if you're not Hemingway?
    Things you can learn by being there, looking around, taking an interest.
    In general, not a bad idea at all; I just wanted to point out that 'backstage' even possibly at elephant polo, generally requires being credentialed.

    Attending events as a member of the press (which affords you access to participants, officials, working space [more important for some than others] etc.) requires a credential, which requires a request usually from a recognized entity or one with some verifiable cred. The F1 guy likely built up his own website and then either got a credential based on it (depending on the event, mr may want statistics), or has always gotten them from the pubs he freelances for, but he got those jobs off the site, if you see what I'm saying.

  14. #14
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    There are several F1 writers you might be talking about - James Allen and Joe Saward spring to mind - and what gives them their popularity is the insight they bring. They've followed F1 all their lives and can talk about it with authority. I'd read James Allen's comments about a TV broadcast even if he couldn't get to a particular race, because he knows what he's talking about.

    Think about what subjects you can write about with passion and insight, rather than which ones might fit your idea of travelling around.
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    Benefactor Member WeaselFire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rennet View Post
    Any successful freelancers that can give me insight into this market, and if it is a viable one to specialize in?
    There are plenty of freelance sports writers who do. Though it might be tough to be an expert in Grand Prix racing and Yachting and Tiger Wrestling and Parkour and...

    FWIW, travel writers don't make a very good living anyway. Though you could get comped some free rooms and dinners along the way.

    Jeff

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    Quote Originally Posted by WeaselFire View Post
    There are plenty of freelance sports writers who do. Though it might be tough to be an expert in Grand Prix racing and Yachting and Tiger Wrestling and Parkour and...

    FWIW, travel writers don't make a very good living anyway. Though you could get comped some free rooms and dinners along the way.

    Jeff
    It's because too many people want to be travel writers. I just want to be a writer-who-happens-to-travel I find most travel writing boring and/or narcissistic, no offense to any travel writers out there.

  17. #17
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    Thanks so much for the shout-out, Melina! I haven't checked in to this forum for so long, I'm not sure anyone even remembers I'm a member!

    I don't have any experience in this market, but in 2010, the Commonwealth Games were being held in India for the first time and I, like many other freelancers, thought we could write about the events for our regular clients. I write for a wide variety of publications and unfortunately, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but for big events, most publications will fly in their star sports reporters.

    I think as a sports writer, you'll have more success if you focus on smaller stories, the day-to-day of the sport, or the stories behind athletes, for instance. Little-known but influential events that are changing lives are also interesting to editors. Once you've made your mark in this specialty with these stories and built relationships with the editors, you'll probably find it easier to get assigned to the sporting events that everyone likes to watch. (Have I mentioned that getting media accreditation for these events without the backing of a big news organization is my definition of hell?)

    Hope that helps!

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