Ross Kilvington | Freelance Football Writer
Hi Ross, thank you for taking the time to speak to us today. Can you tell our readers about yourself, what you currently do and how did you end up where you are right now?
I’m a freelance writer from Scotland and I’m currently working mainly for Snack Media while writing articles for the likes of Nutmeg and the North Section.
I started writing at the end of 2019, I was inspired by websites such as These Football Times and magazines such as Nutmeg and the Blizzard and decided to give it a try one day. I came home from work and just sat at my laptop and wrote a piece on Scotland at France 98 (how cliché!). It got published and ended up in Late Tackle magazine and seeing something I wrote in print was incredible. I got the bug and here we are, nearly three years later.
Lockdown gave me a big opportunity to write more and develop, I was paid for my first ever article by the North Section and I knew I wanted to give it a proper go and move away from my job in retail.
When did you know you wanted to work in football?
Originally, I completed a master’s degree at University in Sport and Exercise Science, so I ideally wanted to work in football/sport using that. Never did I think eight years later I’d have a totally different ambition and be writing about it!
How have you found the transition from full-time work in to freelancing so far? What were the initial challenges/worries?
It’s given me a lot of freedom. When I got my first role at GRV Media last year, I was balancing my ‘normal’ job so to speak with writing for Rangers News, while also writing for other blogs/magazines so it was tough balancing everything. I have just finished a month off for paternity leave and felt it was the right time to go freelance and spend more time at home and it’s given me the independence to work on things I love writing about and choose my own schedule.
Initial fears were worrying if no one would commission me, which constantly plays on your mind, especially if you don’t hear back from somewhere you have pitched an idea too etc. Its all about perseverance and constantly improving.
What does a ‘typical’ week look like for you?
I work at Snack Media on a Monday, Friday, and Saturday, writing for their flagship site Football Fancast which is great, writing a variety of pieces for different clubs. The other days are a mixture of pitching ideas, researching current projects, and writing. Getting into a routine is important and I find if I plan ahead what I am doing, I’m much more productive.
How do you generally go about finding new work/clients?
I tend to mainly use Twitter or LinkedIn for finding new opportunities or work. The Freelance Football Opportunities newsletter has also been an incredible help and has opened my eyes to just how many opportunities there are out there, especially to different avenues of work I wouldn’t have even considered a few years ago.
The power of social media is incredible however, I got the role at Snack through the editor, Matt Dawson, seeing my tweet about looking for new freelancing opportunities and a few weeks later I was writing for them, so don’t underestimate how important a single tweet or message can be.
You are in the middle of writing the book ‘All Roads Lead to Paris’. Can you tell us a little bit about this and how the idea came about?
It’s weird because I’ve had the idea in my head for ages but didn’t really have the confidence to pitch the idea to a publisher. After some advice, I wrote a book proposal and sent it off and that was that. It was my first World Cup and it brings back so many memories for me and felt there needed to be a book about it. There have been so many excellent World Cup books recently, I’m hoping All Roads Leads to Paris will fit into the gap.
It’s a tough process and balancing everything while trying to research and write the book has been difficult, but I want to do the tournament justice.
Who are your favourite football writers/authors at the moment and what do you think it is that makes them so brilliant?
Steven Scragg is a wonderful writer. He always brings his topics to life and his style is one I greatly admire. His three books on the Cup Winners Cup, UEFA Cup and European Cup are amongst the finest football books I have read recently and give a detailed analysis of each competition.
I also love Ryan Baldi’s writing, from his eyewitness reports in World Soccer to his two excellent books on subjects that I feel people don’t hear much about and are definitely eye opening in terms of what the real world of football looks like, away from the glitz and glamour. I always feel I learn a lot when reading his work and I often try and get that across in my writing.
What general advice would you give to individuals looking to pursue a freelancing career?
This is a hard one as I’ve just started but something I was told was to network as much as you can. Never be afraid to ask for help or to get someone you admire/respect to give you some advice. I have messaged people asking if they could give me advice on an article I have been working on and its often invaluable, especially in the long run. The writing community is such a brilliant place and I’ve made some great relationships from it.
I always try to plan ahead and have projects/work in the pipeline if I can. It can be a lonely world at times, especially when you send away what you think is a great pitch but don’t hear back. Having the confidence in your own ability is half the battle and its sometimes hard to shake the imposter syndrome feeling, its all worth it when you see your name in magazines as acclaimed as Nutmeg and it gives you belief that you are on the right track.
Where do you see your career in the future? Are there any specific objectives you hope to achieve?
I want to improve as a writer and constantly get better. This will give me the chance to write for bigger and more acclaimed publications. I’d love to have a piece good enough for the Blizzard in the near future and that’s a goal I’m working towards.
Also finishing my book and seeing that in the flesh is another objective I’m desperate to see come to fruition.
What do you do to switch off outside of work?
I have two daughters (the youngest is 7 weeks old) so spending time with them is how I switch off (if that can be called switching off!). I love reading and playing Golf when I can, although I live in Scotland so the weather doesn’t allow for that much.
And finally Ross, where can people find you on social media to connect?
You can find me on Twitter @kilvington91.
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