Columnists are also known as writers, reporters, journalists or commentators. What distinguishes them from all the others is that they try to maintain a particular tone in their writing by specializing in one area of writing. Some of the areas columnists write on include but are not limited to health, sports, technology, fitness, parenting, dating, music and inspiration. The columns can be written in form of essays, advice, report, information giving, procedure of carrying out an activity or just be suited around a certain theme such as pets or art.
The first step towards starting a career as a columnist is to choose the area you wish to specialize in. The area of specialization you choose will demand that you are well informed. Choosing to write on something that interests you can go along way in ensuring that you enjoy your writing career.
To become a successful columnist, you need to have the necessary skills. A university degree in communications, English or journalism is beneficial. Experience is however the most important thing. Often, employers especially in freelancing jobs, will first consider those that have previous experience. Columnists for technical topics such as medicine and engineering will require in-depth knowledge in that particular field. You may decide to start with a high school or a university publication and move your way up the ladder as you continue gaining experience. The secret is to produce quality work every time so that editors can consider your writing. To further your education, you can find many journalism scholarships and financial aid offered to universities and colleges.
A very important thing to consider in starting a career as a columnist is whether you are reliable. You will probably be writing a weekly or monthly column which will require you to have fresh content every time. You therefore have to plan ahead of time so that you are able to hit the deadlines with consistency. Some columnists prefer to wait until just before the deadline so that their columns are up to date with the latest happenings. In as much as this is very good for your readers, you also need to have a backup plan just in-case you are not able to write before the deadline.
Developing a readership is important and it comes with ensuring that your content is always interesting and informative to your audience.
Read widely to see whether your local paper or magazine is missing something and may therefore be in need of your services. Then send a letter to the editor with some clips, telling them why you think you are the best candidate for the job and how your services will improve their paper. Remember to include your experience. If they consider your application, be ready to give them several samples and you can deal with many publications at the same time to increase your pay. There are many resources for columnists in the internet such as the national society of newspaper columnist at Columnists.com.