Becoming a Fantasy Baseball or Fantasy Football writer is not easy. For over a decade, I’ve been asked by dozens of people, “How can I become a Fantasy Sports writer?” I’ve been writing Fantasy sports columns since 2000, starting with an old website called FFInformer.com, which led to my own site, and then several years at CBSSports.com and OPENSports.com, and now, RotoExperts.com.
I imagine porno actors get these same kinds of questions all the time — with people always asking them, “How can I become a Fantasy Sports writer?”
Hopefully, this article will give you a good head start on getting published, creating a name for yourself and possibly working for a website like CBSSports.com, ESPN.com, Yahoo! or even RotoExperts.com.
I. Become a Well-Practiced Fantasy Writer
“Could You Tell Me How To Get To Carnegie Hall?” — “Practice, practice, practice.” (Yep, that’s right. I just used a Jack Benny joke from 65 years ago, but still, it applies here.)
- Read and write. Stephen King, one of my all-time favorite writers, tells us to write something every day. The more you write, the better you’ll get. He also recommends reading a lot every week. You’ll be exposed to new ideas, new styles and new writers. And for a Fantasy writer, you’ll be introduced to new analysis and strategies.
- You can start small and post comments (100-200 words) on other writers’ Fantasy articles, message boards or forums across the web. Start conversations. Let people know you have a perspective and you can analyze the sport.
- You can also use Twitter to show off your chops. Scan the #fantasyfootball hashtag or search fantasy football several times a day, looking for people with questions or problems. Answer them thoughtfully, even if someone has already answered them.
Everyone always wants to hit the ground running, but this is the easiest way to separate the contenders from the pretenders. If someone wants to become a writer, they’ll understand they have to “make their bones,” so to speak. You have to put in the work and show that you can meet deadlines, write good copy with strong opinions, and be depended on. There are a lot of great Fantasy websites out there that would love to have a hard worker churning out good content on a regular basis – for free.
- Email the owner/editor and explain that you’d like to write for his site for free. Don’t worry about trying to get paid at first. It’s very rare that a newcomer would get paid for columns. Very rare. Most veteran writers you’ll see on a lot of these sites still aren’t being paid.
- Try to come up with a new angle for a weekly Fantasy Football column that their site doesn’t already have. That will show that you’re a thinker and you can offer his readers something they don’t already have.
- Point out that you are involved in message boards, citing examples, and that will show extra value because now he knows you can be active on their message boards also. Keeping conversations going with readers is integral for any website.
- Send a couple samples of articles. Don’t overdo it — two should be good, but make sure they are two separate types of columns. Maybe write one that previews a position and one that works as a strategy piece. (Make sure they have no spelling errors or grammar issues!)
III. Write Free For Several Sites
There are a couple reasons this might be a better option for you than just writing for one site.
- By offering up guest columns for several different sites (make sure they are different columns), you can spread your name across the Internet much faster. If you write for just one site, readers from other sites might never see your columns. But if you have articles in several spots, your name becomes as marketable as your column.
- After one season writing on several sites, you will have more bylines to show a prospective employer that might be ready to pay a Fantasy writer. It also shows you know how to market yourself, which any site owner will like, since it means you’ll be marketing your columns on their site now.
- Unfortunately, it means you will have to work a lot more, and you’ll have to use several different content management systems.
IV. Start Your Own Blog
Now that WordPress, Tumbler and Blogger have made web publishing insanely easy, you have the ability to get rolling with your new Fantasy Sports column within a day. There are tons of online tutorials on self-publishing on sites like WordPress, and there are plenty of books written on the subject.
Again, it’s a lot more work this way, but you’ll end up honing so many other attributes (like marketing and design), that a future employer would be a fool not to pick up a successful writer who broke out on his own. Again, it takes a lot more work this way, but if you have the time and the ambition, it’s often the best route. When I built my original website in 2001 (FantasyRef.com), it was much more difficult than it is now. But within two years, I made great contacts at The Sporting News, FOXSports.com, and CBSSports.com, which led to a full-time job.
You can also join a blogging network like SBNation or Yardbarker, or you can look up sports blog networks for specific sports. They’ll take care of the marketing, for the most part, but you’ll still have your own say about what you write about and when.
Larger sites, like CBSSports.com, RotoWire.com and RotoWorld, need player updates written by their staff. In many cases, this is where a young writer will start before getting their own columns on those sites. But writing player updates isn’t as easy as it sounds. Show you are adept at writing informative, tight and interesting updates, and you understand that a column byline is something you have to work for. If you do, you’ll quickly find more doors in the Fantasy Sports industry will be open.
VI. Network with Other Writers
Once you have a regular column, whether it’s on someone else’s site or on your own, you can start networking with other writers. Do a column where you ask different questions to several different writers. Don’t send them a bunch of questions, and don’t send them all the same question. Then post the article with links to their sites. Once they know you can help promote them, they will be more willing to help you out. Eventually, they might invite you into some experts leagues, which puts your name on the same level as 11 other established writers. And you can then invite them into your expert league. Come to other writers with something that helps them, and they’ll be more willing to help you. It’s human nature.
Twitter and Facebook already connect you with other Fantasy Sports writers much more easily than we had it a decade ago. You can gain their support by retweeting and replying to their tweets. By sharing their content, you aren’t brown-nosing as much as you are showing them you’re a friend, and not a foe.
Do Not Be Misled!
Being a Fantasy Sports writer is a ton of work – sometimes a ton of thankless work. But doing what you want for a living is a blessing. But beware, it’s still work. It just happens to be a lot better than digging ditches.
You can’t get a college degree in Fantasy Sports writing, but that actually works to your benefit. That means it’s all in your hands. If you’re talented and a hard worker – you can make a name for yourself and become a Fantasy Sports Writer! Good luck!
David Gonos spent 5 years as a CBSSports.com Senior Fantasy Writer and three more years writing with SI.com. Over the past 17 years, his work has been published on NFL.com, MLB.com, FanDuel, FoxSports.com and USA Today. Since 2001, he has been tracking down the Top 50-plus Free Fantasy Football Draft Tools online. You can contact David Gonos here.