Freelance writing can be rewarding if you know your sports, your audience and how to find the markets that target that audience. Sports writing provides many avenues and opportunities for a sports fan with writing talent to earn a living at something he enjoys. To be a freelance sports writer, you need to love sporting events, understand the events you cover, and know where to sell the stories you write.
Watch and attend as many sporting events as you can. These are the meat and potatoes of your sports writing career. Get involved in the events. To cover sports, you need to know not only what's happening in the games but what's going on behind the scenes, as well.
Begin small, applying to cover sporting events for a newspaper in your area. You may only cover minor events at first, like little league baseball games. That's a start. Build a resume of writing credits in the sports genre. Approach newspapers in your area with stories you've written, and present your work to the sports editor. If your writing is good, you may get the opportunity to cover an event for the paper. Bring any published clips you have with you to help showcase your talents.
Purchase a copy of Writer's Market or get a copy from the library. Writer's Market is the only frequently updated submission guideline book available and is invaluable to freelance writers. Turn to the nonfiction section of the book and locate those markets that purchase sports features. It will tell you what to submit, how to submit it and where to submit it. It will also tell you what each publication pays for accepted submissions. Use this book as an aid in submitting your sports features. Each sale is another writing credit on your resume, which can eventually lead to more work or even assignments from magazines you contribute to.
Visit a local radio station and begin cultivating relationships there, with the ultimate aim of becoming a contributor of sports copy for the announcer. Any freelance job requires building a list of work you can show to get more work. The process is tedious and may take time, but by getting your name in the sports arena, you can eventually build a solid resume that will help you succeed as a freelance sports writer. Ask who is in charge of covering sports at the station, introduce yourself and offer your services to him. If you're just beginning, consider offering to cover local sports at no charge. This can be a good way to build a portfolio of credits that may later pay off with paid assignments.
Build an online portfolio. Cover local sports in a personal blog, and apply as a writer for online publications that employ freelancers. While the pay for these outlets may be minimal, and not at all in some cases, this approach can help build a following of readers and a list of sports-related writing samples you can use to secure bigger, better-paying jobs down the road.