How I Went from Blogger to Journalist

Of all the questions I’m asked it’s this one I hear the most: “How did you break into journalism?” normally followed by: “Tell me how to do it too!” and I don’t know why I’ve never thought to write it all in a post, because whenever you’re planning content — literally answering a question someone’s asked you is a pretty good start right?

Actually, I know exactly why I’ve held back. Because I feel like a fraud I guess. I’ve written before about imposter syndrome, and so many people reached out after that post and said they felt exactly the same I know you’ll understand when I say I feel like a big fat fraudster.


I wrote this post way back in 2015, pre-baby and pre-podcast too. The reason I decided to reboot it for you is because I’ve written a course all about how to get your first byline as a blogger.  

I’ve pored all of my knowledge, as well as recruiting industry experts to write guest lectures too and I am SO excited to share it with when I release it on the 15th May.

If you want to sign up for the course when it opens, pop your details below.


But ever since I started sharing more posts about blogging, about my journey, my tips and advice I’ve had such a brilliant response from all of you.

People have commented on here, on Facebook, Twitter and on Instagram wanting to know more, to say thanks and even sharing the post. Don’t ever underestimate how much that means to me — it’s more than just a massive ego boost (which, of course, it is!), it’s a validation that I have something useful to share.

So here we go.

From small acorns….

Alternative title: from broke backpackers, slightly less broke flashpackers grow.

It’s not remotely glamorous, so don’t get too excited. While Oli and I were travelling we came home for a wedding. In that time, we were back in London with zero cash, so Oli did catering work for rich people (seriously rich people, the tips pretty much paid for our plane tickets to Bali!) and I carried on with the freelance work I’d been doing while we were away. Which was fine when we were living in a cheap country like India or Thailand…..not so fine when we were trying to live in London.

So I topped it up with temping for Office Angels (reception and admin work mainly). As it goes, non-idiots with an overpriced degree in their thirties are hot property in the admin world so I got stacks of work and was repeatedly asked back to certain places.

One of those places was Immediate Media, a publishing house home to the Radio Times, Match of The Day, Olive Magazine and….Lonely Planet Traveller. I was at reception, so had access to the entire staff database as I had the exciting job of operating the switchboard. On my last day, the security guard I’d got chatting to (and kinda took me under his wing) told me I’d always regret it if I didn’t just pick up the phone and call one of the team at Lonely Planet. So I did.

And that one call landed me a two-week placement. At the end of the two weeks, I’d made connections, learned a little of what it was like to work in a busy editorial team and got my very first byline. After another placement at Marie Claire over London Fashion Week (lots of transcription, dull as fook, no byline) I had enough experience under my belt to start pitching.

From freelancer to staff writer

Obviously, I didn’t do that at all though. Instead, I moved to Koh Tao, scrapped the idea of wearing shoes, tried to plan a wedding and worked as a social media manager (wow, smart career move Luce).

Although I continued to keep my finger in the freelance writing pie, as it were, it was only last year my bylines started to become ‘impressive.’

I landed a staff writer role on the travel desk at the Daily Express which is where I really learned how to be a ‘proper’ journalist. I had the most amazing editor, who boosted my confidence and reminded me I’m a good writer, with fab story ideas. Although I was famously pretty sketchy at headlines……she still laughs at some of the headlines I’d turn out (‘The island so beautiful your EYES will hurt’ was a classic!). It was a brilliant education and I even got nominated for an award for an article I wrote about Slovenia.

Am I a journalist?

I left when I got pregnant, as I already knew I needed to boost my freelance writing career before maternity leave (I was paid a day rate at the Express). So boost my freelance career I did, and alongside my Express bylines, I now have The Sun, Telegraph, Red and Mother & Baby to my name too. The commissioning editor at Stylist invited me for coffee, and we are still trying to find a space for one of my stories, and the Daily Mail offered me £1,000 for a story (which I turned down, because of the direction they wanted to take it in).

That was all a bit braggy, wasn’t it? Yep. The reason I’m sharing it is to tell you that if you want a banging byline too — it can be done. I did it, and I have no formal qualifications at all.

All it took, was a bit of chutzpah, a lot of hard work and a sprinkling of talent too. You wouldn’t know it from the hella typos you likely read on this blog but I’m a pretty good writer, and I am really good at coming up with good story ideas too.

There’s loads of stuff I’m not as good at, so for those things, I seek out ways to learn how to get better. Like I mentioned before, my ability to encapsulate my fab story idea into an eye-grabbing headline isn’t top-notch….but I’m getting better.

So there you have it. That’s my story and how I made the leap from blogger to full-time freelance journalist.

I know you’ll probably have questions, and if you do please just drop me an email or pop something in the comments.

You can find all of my blogging resources here AND, more excitingly you can sign up to receive news of my new course when it releases in a couple of weeks time.

L x

10 Comments

  1. 5th April 2017 / 9:19 am

    Really enjoyed reading this; it’s not as hard as people think! It just means a lot hard work, determination and willing to think outside of the box. Can’t wait to see your piece in Stylist when it works out.

    • Lucy
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:17 am

      YES! Exactly that Kara, determination, hard work and a willingness to just f@@cking do it 🙂 L x

  2. 5th April 2017 / 9:49 am

    Really enjoyed reading this. I went through a really tough time last year personally, and it made me re-evaluate my life completely. I now am looking at how I can peruse writing as a career (I don’t live in London and wouldn’t move there as I do t want to move my daughter away from her family), and my passion is in writing. Do you have any tips for someone whose only experience in media/writing is with their blog?
    Kara
    http://www.spreadthesparkle.co.uk
    💗

    • Lucy
      Author
      7th April 2017 / 9:19 am

      Well done for turning your crappy experience into something awesome. As you now know from my email brain dumps to you I have LOADS of tips 😉 L x

  3. 7th April 2017 / 3:13 pm

    I don’t think it’s braggy at ALL! I wrote about this in my newsletter last week; about congratulating ourselves publicly and how it can feel so self-serving and narcissistic, but at the same time talking about your achievements not only inspires others but also (as I’ve found) is an awesome way to market what I do to potential clients. I probably wouldn’t have been so upfront about my achievements before I went freelance, but now i work for myself and don’t have anyone else to sing my praises I figured I should probably do it for myself! 🙂

    • Lucy
      Author
      12th April 2017 / 12:37 am

      That’s such a good point! When you have bills to pay, you just have to suck it up and shout about how great you are. And actually when you do, you realise there are stacks of people out there who want to celebrate your successes with you 🙂 L x

  4. 11th April 2017 / 2:45 pm

    It definitely does come down to having one or two lucky breaks but often you have to be willing to take the rough with the smooth when it comes to the work you do. I agree that if you show willingness and determination (& can write, which you obviously can!) then you’re on your way! Love reading these types of posts. Keep them up! x

    • Lucy
      Author
      12th April 2017 / 12:42 am

      Well, you are my journo unicorn so that is high praise indeed! I think you are totally right – you just have to do the work, and keep trying when pitch after pitch is rejected. It’s particularly hard when you’re freelance as you properly have to put yourself out there — but hard work and tenacity pays off for SURE! L x

  5. 30th August 2017 / 5:19 pm

    I just wanted to say how amazing your blog is! I came on here following a link from pinterest about Budapest and came across every aspiring journalist’s dream, a look into what it takes.
    Thank you for giving so many tips and insights, this is definitely going to be a guide for when I graduate university next year!

    xx

    • Lucy
      Author
      8th September 2017 / 11:00 am

      Oh wow, thanks for the lovely comment Lauren!! Happy to meet a fellow journo and if I can ever offer any tips, let me know 🙂 L x

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