Jon Mackenzie | Head of Content at Analytics FC

Our next guest is Jon Mackenzie. Jon is currently the Head of Content at Analytics FC and has taken on multiple freelance work throughout his career. We are thrilled and thankful to Jon who has provided great insight into his professional career.

Tell us about yourself, what you currently do and how did you end up where you are right now?

Vocationally, I started out with the plan of going into academia, but as I was doing graduate work, I began doing more freelance writing work than actual studying and so that put paid to that idea! Since then, I’ve worked as the football editor for an online outlet, I’ve tried my hand as a freelancer in both written and audio, I’ve founded a Leeds United media outlet and I’ve recorded a lot of podcast episodes.

My current job is with Analytics FC, a football data company, where I have the inauspicious title of Head of Content.

As Head of Content at Analytics FC, what does a normal week look like for you?

What is your number one focus when it comes to your work?

Secondly, this might be trite but my second focus is the content itself. I don’t mean that in a pretentious way. One of the most freeing aspects for me working in the football industry is that the work is largely unimportant. Yes, we help people to enjoy football, which is a privilege. But when it goes wrong, there aren’t any great ramifications. But that realisation pushes me to do the best I can within the parameters I work within. I am paid to produce various pieces of content within the timeframe allotted to me and so I seek to do that to the best of my ability and produce the best content I can under those conditions. As content creators — much as I hate the phrase — there isn’t more we can hope to do than that.

What is the most enjoyable part of your role?

What is the most difficult part of your role?

When did you know you wanted to work in football?

What are your thoughts on the freelance market for football writers/journalists?

The constant pressure to produce work in a sphere where quantity has to trump quality is a hard one to bear. Fortunately, there are glimmering signs that things are turning around but the work is still difficult and I have a huge amount of respect to the people who still have to work the grind. My advice in this regard is this: the best way I found to make this work was to mix up the sorts of work that I was doing and do a little bit of everything.

I have various edited for gaming websites, worked for podcast companies, written freelance pieces, worked for scouting companies, picking up work wherever I can find it. Yes, you may want to have the licence to just sit down and write to earn money. But that is a luxury reserved to a very select group of people. If you want to make the freelance life work for you, you have to think in terms of what I like to call a “portfolio career”. It may take you off in interesting directions — I never expected to be doing what I’m doing now — but it will allow you to make a living on your own terms largely.

In your opinion, what makes a good pitch? Any key advice you can share with freelancers at the start of their journey looking to pitch their stories/ideas to editors?

Here’s the thing: a pitch is a very specific thing. It’s a summary of what it is you’re proposing to write. In a pitch, I want to hear: your idea/overall argument, how you will structure it, any additional things you might need (in my case, this would be data/data viz), how many words you’re going to need to do this. It’s that simple.

As an editor, I’m not here to shoot down pitches. I’m here to find interesting ideas that suit my publication or outlet and help you produce that piece within the parameters of what our audience expect. If I turn down your pitch, it’s likely because the ideas or arguments aren’t there. So if you’re pitching, spend your time really nailing down your argument and the structure. After that, everything else is easy.

Any tools or software that you can share which you have found helpful when freelancing?

And finally Jon, where can people find you on social media?

Sign up to the Freelance Football Opportunities newsletter to receive freelance football work directly in to your inbox every week:

Connecting freelancers in football (soccer) to paid work.