Chris Lund graduated from Queen’s University in 2011 with a range of experience more accustomed to someone many years his senior.
Only two months after graduation, he started a position as a web editor and writer for The Score Sports Network, managing the website’s editorial content.
Chris hadn’t cashed in on family connections; he hadn’t lied on his numerous resumes; indeed, he isn’t even a graduate of a journalism program.
And yet, despite Chris’s uncommon track record with the written word, his journey begins with that most conventional of written modes–a blog.
In July 2009, Chris and his friend Matt Piazza started a blog at AlwaysOUA.blogspot.com.
The duo were dissatisfied with the then-limited coverage of Ontario University Athletics (OUA).
National media outlets pay little attention to varsity level gameplay, while university press departments generally focus on the prospects of their own teams.
“We didn’t want what we thought were very entertaining and very competitive sports to go unnoticed,” said Chris.
Original ideas are rare on the Internet. With millions of blogs online–over 100 million as of 2011–it’s safe to say that if you can think of a topic, someone is probably blogging about it already.
AlwaysOUA proved the exception.
The blog suddenly filled a void that had long nagged the OUA community.
“We had press credentials from pretty much every school and team in the province within our first month, just because teams are so willing to have extra coverage,” said Chris.
Close proximity to teams helped the pair develop interesting coverage while exploring different ways to raise the profile of OUA gameplay.
“We conducted polls asking students, ‘How can we get you out to games?’ and shared the results with schools and teams,” Chris said.
Chris also submitted an op-ed piece to the Queen’s University student newspaper, titled, “We need to value our campus athletics,” and put his mouth where his money was, taking the microphone as the sports director for Queen’s campus radio station, CFRC-FM.
More than “just” a blog
Within a year, the blog started an opportunity snowball.
Chris was contacted by The Score Sports Network, who asked him to contribute to their University Rush blog.
With his foot in the door, Chris began networking with professionals in his field and found himself in touch with a copy editor for The Hockey News, who referred him to the paper’s editorial internship program. He started in May 2011.
“The Hockey News is the premier publication for the sport. NHL players have subscriptions. If it says it in there, it matters,” said Chris.
With experience in writing, editing and public relations under his belt, Chris set his sights on a full-time job when a web editor position at The Score crossed his desk.
With his track record for dedicated work at the grassroots level and beyond, it’s no surprise he got the job.
Back to basics
Now 22, Chris has a LinkedIn profile with a volume of qualifications and experience that most of us hope to have in five years–with luck.
He maintains that his accomplishments all began with his work in blogging.
“When the blog started getting attention from other writers and schools, I had a moment where I thought, ‘I can do this.’ That was the moment I realized that this work is what I want to do for a living.”
Blogging not only helped him develop the conviction to pursue a lifelong passion, but gave him the tools to do so.
“I turned the blogging experience into work which really taught me how to function at the professional level. I wouldn’t have had a portfolio worthy of The Score without the blog, I wouldn’t have had a portfolio worthy of The Hockey News without The Score and the blog, and so on.”
Words of wisdom
Chris was fortunate in finding an unfulfilled niche in the blogosphere, but his success also took a great deal of perseverance and dedication. His experience yields some excellent advice.
“With the advent of online media like blogging, there is an overwhelming amount of competition but there are also an overwhelming number of opportunities to get experience and to get noticed,” he said.
“Your writing will speak for itself, but you still have to be out there enough to find the right eyes.”
Constant improvement factors in as well.
“Write a lot, read good writing and force yourself to improve. If you write 1000 words a day and read 1000 words by someone who is a better writer than you, your writing will develop. I’m only figuring that out now. I still have a long way to go.”
To infinity, and beyond
Few bloggers manage to develop a niche and consistent readership. Fewer still turn a genuine passion into a career.
For Chris, it’s just the beginning.
“I have stuff on my list that I want to check off. I’d love to do something for ESPN, I’d love to write something for Sports Illustrated, I’d love to appear in Esquire. If we want to get really out there, I’d love to be in the New Yorker. I’d love to be in all of those places.”
“If there’s somewhere that’s known for quality writing, I want to have my name in it.”