Entrepreneuring journalists don’t have to wait to be knighted by a media company to start practicing what they learned in J-school. Now they start a website and report on the subjects that matter to them. Recruiters are always looking for these potential employees, perhaps more so than recent graduates with the standard internships. Our presenters demonstrated gumption and curiosity and self-reliance, ultimately leading to positions with other news organizations.
That’s it! Talk with our panelists in person or on Twitter afterward.
Luckie: Presentable and professional business cards really help. They’ve helped him out of some situations.
You really have to pitch yourself. I’m a shy person and I’ve had to develop it over time. You have to present yourself as a person that you should talk to.
You are all brands. You have to communicate that to people.
Orsini: You wouldn’t believe how far a reporter’s notebook goes. She went to a conference and nobody batted an eye because she had a notebook.
Question: How did you get people to take you seriously as a blogger?
Orsini: I recommend WordPress.org, it is so robust. You can tweak every part of it. It isn’t entirely free, as you need a place to host it. She uses BlueHost, which she likes.
Plugins really make the experience better: Like TweetMyShit, Sexy Bookmarks, etc.
Luckie: Twitter, obviously. He also recommends setting up your own blog on Tumblr or WordPress or something. Setting up a Vimeo/YouTube, etc. Get the apps you need to edit audio, etc. Know how to use Google.
Question: What tools help you?
The money question: Does it matter?
Luckie: I’d do it for free. I love it so much. It isn’t about money and I couldn’t have started this without a fulltime job.
Orsini: Not many places are going to buy a start about going undercover as a maid, but I could write fun stories I want on my own blog. It’s worth it.
An audience member shares that she was a lawyer who wanted to write, so she started a bird-watching blog that kicked off a new career for her.
Orsini: The startup I admire is the Daily Dot, where I work now.
We cover a lot of things people think are silly. Like when Obama did an AmA on Reddit. It’s a silly story – the President talking to people on the Internet, but it was a serious one for us.
Luckie: I’m excited about Meograph.com Compiling a news timeline with maps and media. It’s a great visual.
I love the classics like Storify. And a lot of mobile apps like 360.io, Pano. I love the innovation that’s happening.
Question: What start-ups are inspiring you now?
Orsini: I did a blog on anime conference. She got injured right before, got wheeled around the conference in a wheelchair. She liked that story because it sort of defined her dedication to the blog.
Luckie: “What the journalism industry can learn from porn”.
Question: What was your favorite article on your blog?
Luckie: I’ve had many mentors. I wouldn’t be who or where I am without them Like Doug Mitchell, his mom, etc.
That was in the broad sense. In the blog sense, his readers helped shape him. Feedback in comments, on his book, elsewhere helped him grow.
Orsini: The blog was a good way to break the ice with journalists I admired. She admired a writer at Wired based on his stories, asked if she could interview him for her blog. Gave her a reason to talk to him, which helped.
Question: How did you go about finding a mentor, if you had one?
Orsini: I think of my blog as something not many people know about. I don’t update it like I should anymore. It served its purpose, it got me a career.
Now it gives me a place to write op-eds I wouldn’t write for work.
I started when I didn’t have a job in journalism. I went o ONA Dc meetups and introduced myself as a journalist because of that blog.
Luckie: My friends didn’t know what I did – still don’t. I try to keep my journalism life separate from my real life.
Every time I’ve gotten a job, it’s been because people outside the newsroom saw my work and liked it. Do what you care about: Journalism, fairies,Hollywood, etc. It’s a leg up on your resume. It will push you forward.
Question: What did you do when it became something that took all your time?
Luckie: I didn’t start it as an act of journalism. I was an intern at the LA Times. I did it to write.
Orsini: I started the blog for journalism. I started it as LaurenOrsini.com, wrote about school, journalism, in hopes employers would notice.
She wrote OtakuJournalist about what she was interested in. It was a risk, but it was a niche that was different.
In school we were taught we had to be well-rounded and do it all. that wasn’t for me. I wouldn’t stand out. Now I stand out. There are very few people who blog about what I do.
Luckie: 10000 Words was never a fulltime job. Always worked elsewhere,so he slept rarely. He started a Zazzle site to sell t-shirts and such, which helped fund the site structure.
You don’t start a blog to make money.
Orsini: I focused on design a lot. My only regret is that I didn’t start it sooner. that held me up. But I coudn’t get motivated untilI liked the design. I had a lot of preconceptions about blogging that I didn’t correct untilI was doing it.
Luckie: Someone told him his blog design was terrible. He felt bad, but took on the redesign.
Focus on what you want to put out there, worry about the design later. There are lots of good templates to start with. Focus on what you want people to know.
Lauren entered a contest for a female journalist under 25 in Forbes and won.
Lauren Orsini says her blog isn’t quite as successful. She started Oatakujournalist.com because she was into fandom. Folded towels at a gym on the side. That was the job, the blog was the career.
When you see a job you really want, you make that job. Set your deadline sand make them. She treated blog as if it paid.
Mark Luckie started the blog 10,000 Words.
Started it on his porch in LA. Media bigwigs saw a need for it, so he jumped in. It has grown and developed. Still online, one of the most popular journalism blogs out there.