Whether you want to start your own publication, podcast or newsletter, you can find out how with the best pieces of advice from our journalism masterclasses in February half term.  

Our fantastic guest speakers drew on their own experiences and success to give practical recommendations and tips to everyone attending.

Launching your own journalism project is undeniably hard work, but each of our speakers showed the many benefits of doing so.

It can help to develop your creativity, you can make industry contacts, it looks great on your CV as it shows off your innovation and technical skills, and it might even eventually make you some money.

How to start your own publication with Beth Kirkbride  

Beth is a News Associates alumna who founded The Indiependent, an entertainment and culture platform for early-career journalists to gain experience. Check out our interview with Beth about how she got into entertainment journalism! 

Here are Beth’s best pieces of advice for setting up your own publication:

  1. When naming your publication, make sure it is unique and describes your product well. And check the social media handles are available!
  2. Figure out how you’re going to run and finance your project – are you going to use volunteers or paid employees or freelancers?
  3. Evaluate different content management systems and choose one which would best suit your publication and budget.
Beth's recommendations for content management systems (CMS). Shows logos on a white background, including WiX, Blogger, WordPress, Tumblr and Medium

Beth’s recommendations for content management systems (CMS)

  1. Once you get going, use Google Analytics to work out what content is doing well and what isn’t. Learn from what you find out and be prepared to adapt your content over time.
  2. Get an NCTJ qualification! An NCTJ gives you a grounding in media law as well as essential journalism skills, providing you with reassurance you are running your publication legally and ethically. Read all about the NCTJ and why it is important here. 

How to start your own podcast with Alasdair Hooper

Alasdair is another News Associates alumnus! He set up the SportSpiel podcast with a fellow News Associates grad, where they interview a variety of sports stars.

Here are Alasdair’s best pieces of advice for setting up your own podcast:

  1. Make sure you can sum up your podcast concept in ten words or less!
  2. Figure out what format your podcast should take and work to your strengths – whether it’s interviewing, analysis, investigation or narrating stories.
  3. It’s essential to make sure your podcast sounds good, so picking your equipment is an important step. According to Alasdair, getting a mixing deck or pre-amp is more important than spending loads on an expensive mic.

Alasdair’s tips for choosing equipment to record your podcast

  1. Always save the original file before editing it. You do not want to lose your hard work!
  2. Don’t overthink your presenting – be yourself and chat about things you enjoy, because your enthusiasm will translate into good content for your listeners.

How to start your own newsletter with Jem Collins

Jem is the founder of Journo Resources, an online resource for journalists. Jem sends out a weekly newsletter with job and freelance opportunities, upcoming awards and tips for anyone breaking into the industry, which we included in our list of best journalism newsletters to subscribe to!

Here are Jem’s best pieces of advice for setting up your own newsletter:

  1. Find a niche you are passionate about and give your newsletter a personal flavour – people like to read newsletters because they come from people rather than nameless companies, so let your personality shine through.
  2. Create a set structure for your newsletter, include regular features and ensure you have a set time for it to arrive in people’s inboxes so they know when to expect and look forward to it.
  3. When trying to gain subscribers, take it to communities you are already part of and use any platforms you have to promote what is unique and interesting about your newsletter.
Jem's recommendations for platforms to host your newsletter, including Substack, Mailchimp, Revue and LittleLetter

Jem’s recommendations for platforms to host your newsletter

  1. Once you get going, think about giving your newsletter room to expand or adapt the content to suit your changing audience and their changing needs. It’s okay for your newsletter to change over time!
  2. There are various ways you could monetise your newsletter, but don’t expect to see immediate results. Make sure you choose sponsors which fit in with your core brand.

Our regular masterclasses are a great way to build contacts. Click here for more tips on networking in lockdown.