Come write for our blog; you’ll get great exposure and a myriad fridge magnets!

It’s a mug’s game that writing for blogs malarkey.

Oh, you’ll get all the free mugs in the world, but you’ll never get the price of the coffee to put in them. You will probably get a nice coaster though, and possibly a fridge magnet with a snappy one liner to which you can turn for comfort each time you open your bare fridge to look for milk to put in the coffee you’ve had to pay for with cold hard cash down at the local cheapomarket. Won’t that be nice?

Yes, your name will be added to plenty of guest lists; mainly those for bands whose gigs are free entry anyway. But hey, you’ve been given a guester … get you!

“You’ll get great exposure!”

As for reputation. It’s going to magnify a zillion times through all that exposure!

Ooh, think of that HUGE industry-wEYEd rep you’re gonna have from writing all those reviews n news features about countless next best things. Golly, you must be salivating at the thoughts of Laura Snapes positively tripping over herself to snap you up before the guys over at Best Fit bag you for themselves!

Or Jessica Hopper right? I mean, the blog does get worldwide exposure doesn’t it? There is a chance she just might like you know, check out random articles just for a nose. To see what the competition is doing, yeah? Cor! You can just picture it can’t you? Little ole you flying high around the globe, interviewing Jack White over breakfast in Berlin, or cosying up with Lizzo on the Iberian leg of her album tour! Living the dream right?

Wrong! So, so wrong. In every aspect and respect.

Asking people, especially young ‘uns, to write for free either for a blog or in any other situation, is just plain wrong. Oh, they might tell you that they’ve no money, that it’s a big co-operative thing and everyone does it for the lurve of music. But at the end of the day, the people that get the big interviews, the good guesters, and the masses of free shit, are the self-appointed editorial team, ie the person who started the blog and their commissioning editor sidekick.

When the free trips to EP or Latitude are being handed out, you’ll never be at the top of the queue. Oh, you might bag that away day-trip to the back end of Mayo to capture all the zazz on that up coming New Age Sustainable Folk Festival that no-one is talking about, but only ‘cos Mary of the green geansai is currently laid up with that dose she picked up skinny dipping with hippies in Cape Clear last weekend.

And you’ll get plenty of experience alright, but nothing you can’t pick up yourself, or by doing a one month internship with a reputable publication. Anyone can set up a blog. Anyone with a bit of a savvy, a nose for good music, and a friendly personality and inquiring mind can write reviews, interview artists, and latch onto the latest trends and techniques.

If you want to be a music journalist, do a course in journalism, get yourself some ‘work experience’ and get out there networking and doing the rounds. Go to gigs, talk to up and coming bands, get to know who’s who in your local scene and then take it wider. Start up your own blog focussing on the genres of music that appeal to you. Study how the others do it then replicate the style that best fits your own, until eventually you find your own ‘written voice’.

PRs love bloggers because let’s face it, we provide free advertising for the artists on their roster. With the basics covered, they only have to focus on skinning the bigger, more elusive cats like radio producers and TV researchers. Once you get on their mailing lists, you’ll have access to pretty much most of the releases and news from their stable. Forget trying to bag that elusive Radiohead interview. Thom’s days of cosying up over an herbal tea in the student canteen are long gone. Big names play with big players. The likes of Foo Fighters and Radiohead are great aspirations for your blogging bucket list. Most likely they’ll remain unticked!

That’s not to dampen your spirits. You can reach for the middle ground. If you spot an artist that you know is going to make it – and gut will tell you more than any amount of hearsay (worked like magic for me with Sam Fender) – go to their gigs, hang back, get talking to them, ask for a quick interview with the offer of a free pint, and get it out there on your blog. If they crack the scene, you’ll be on their radar and more likely to bag another interview or guester now they’re swimming mainstream.

Plus, it’ll be a wow reference when you go for any paid writing gigs in the future.

The Don’ts

First and foremost, don’t write if you can’t write. If you don’t have a natural talent for wordsmithing, forget it. Writing isn’t something you can learn like basic secretarial or how to mow a lawn. It’s like music, you either have it or you don’t. Simple.

Don’t write about music you don’t like – your enthusiasm won’t shine through but the stiltedness of your words will. If it’s a labour, move on. Same with any other subject. If your thing is GAA don’t write about Soccer. The text won’t sparkle.

Do write about music you love – whether or not its popular. Your love and passion will draw readers to your site. No-one wants to read mechanical fodder – and trust me, there’s already plenty of it out there. Don’t write positive reviews for the sake of keeping in with either artist or PR. If you genuinely don’t like something you’ve two choices – you can say it – politely – or say nothing at all. The choice is yours.

And never, ever let yourself be leaned on by anyone from a PR agency. It’s their job to get the info out there and stir up some fizz about their artists. It is not their job to hound people into reluctantly writing good reviews when they have neither the time nor inclination.

Whatever you do, be true to you and the rest as they say, will be history, of some ilk or other.

Ditto, don’t sell yourself cheap or your words for free. Builders don’t lay bricks for free, carpenters don’t saw wood for free, and PRs don’t rep their roster for free, so why should you provide free copy/content for A.N.Other, especially any site making money or turning over a rake of freebies/promos/festival passes that will never see the light of anyone’s day other than the editorial team.

Trust me. Been there, done that, wrote the reviews, and never got offered even as much as a beer mat.

You want to write for free? Write for yourself. Anything else is a waste of time, and will certainly do nothing for your global reputation.

*If a little of what you fancy appeals, and you’d like to have my #dailyinspo365 posts appearing in your inbox, I’d love to have you along for the joy, the bumps, and more importantly, the company. You can follow along by clicking the ‘Follow DervSwerve’ link on the right!

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