Getting Into Hosting: What I Have Learnt...
Alright… Getting real with this one…
A couple months ago, I did a Q&A on Instagram as I was getting multiple questions about working as an entertainment reporter. I wanted to share this video (and some extra tips) because it seems to be a topic many of you are curious about. My experiences have allowed me to learn some important lessons about the industry I wish I had known from the start.
DISCLAIMER: By no means am I trying to say I am a role model. HELL NO. Obviously, I’m not a regular on E or other major TV channels reporting everyday. And to be honest, getting to that point is all about the connections you make and/or leveraging that position with an already-existing audience. What I am trying to help with here, is consistently working and building a career from scratch. With the growth of digital platforms and their monetization, hosting opportunities are definitely still hard to find, but constantly popping up. The necessary skills are a little more complex than the old-school way: being a face and blindly reading a script. If that’s what you’re expecting to happen instantly, you should probably look into a different career.
Wango Tango 2017
If you have followed my journey and have similar goals, I hope these tips can help you as much as they helped me:
build a reel:
Now this is probably one of the most important parts of starting a hosting career. No matter the quality of your reel, you MUST have something to show. It will always be a work in progress and something you will update regularly. I have received so many requests for hosting internships and positions, and to be completely honest, the people having sent me awesome e-mails and DMs that did not have a few seconds of footage to show for themselves were simply never considered. Also, and please do not take offense to this - it is a little annoying when people expect to be handed an opportunity without showing a genuine interest and passion for the job. A basic reel is easily done with a camera and microphone. You can film yourself at home or even interview people on the street. I would mix some more serious / official clips with others that show personality. I won’t go into too much detail about building a reel, but if it is something you would like to learn more about, let me know! I’ll write a post about it…
Perfect your writing skills:
As a digital reporter, the positions are few and far between. I see major platforms shutting down everyday because companies are unable to successfully monetize. The quick turnaround and instant aspect of digital journalism, as well as the overflow of information floating around the internet has turned budgeting into a bit of an issue. An independent blogger has access to the same platforms full-blown productions are utilizing, so you are more likely to wear many different hats when working for a company. WRITING YOUR OWN MATERIAL IS ESSENTIAL: I cannot stress this enough. If you are a great host but cannot research and write properly, you MUST perfect these skills. There is too little value in being just the face of the content you are presenting nowadays.
Be social media savvy:
Whether you are looking to work for a TV channel, print publication or a digital outlet, social media reach and relevance has become an essential part of the job. You must understand the nature of each platform, and your audience’s interest to drive them to the actual material. What I have found most challenging is that all of the content will not perform well on every platform. A successful instagram post will not necessarily make for a good Youtube video. Do your research: work out the patterns... For example: Snapchat attracts more of a Gen-Z audience, whereas Instagram caters to a general interest in aesthetic. YouTube is a search engine, so get familiar with what people are actively looking for on there. Twitter is a better place to start discussions and share an opinion. These are just very basic facts, but you must not throw any type of content out there and expect good results, you will be wasting your time and energy.
Develop your personal brand / platform:
Since I started my own podcast, I definitely fine-tuned my interview style and discovered my voice. I was also forced to teach myself skills that have made me a better producer. Managing a platform on my own terms has not only taught me organization and scheduling, but the audio production aspect has saved me countless times on the carpet when experiencing technical difficulties. Being able to handle these issues as a host will massively work in your favor and make you invaluable to a company.
Have low expectations / Work your way up:
Being a host isn’t a career you necessarily will ‘fall into’ but something you will have to work towards. There are of course exceptions, but if you’re starting from scratch, I would definitely look for writer / producer / creator positions to begin with. This is what I did... I had a reel, and knew I would eventually end up hosting, but understood the importance to prove myself as a serious journalist. I spent months writing scripts, creating social media posts, and even, responding to Youtube comments before being featured as ‘on-camera talent.’ This isn’t about sucking up to superiors and boosting their ego, but rather, showing you are able to understand the outlet’s tone and style before representing the brand.
Find your niche:
Being an expert in a specific field and having a niche can be a fast track to getting the hosting position of your dreams. My friend Denise Salcedo is a great entertainment reporter, but is also passionate about female wrestling. This got her some of the most exciting hosting opportunities. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t be a good all-rounder as well. But having in-depth knowledge about a specific subject will make for better interviews / segments. I regularly get called for events because employers are aware of my deeper understanding of the world of Reality TV and Lifestyle Trends. This is the way to stand out and avoid generic questions that every other (and bigger) outlet is already asking.
Connect with people on Instagram:
From experience, I can say sending Resumes online is definitely NOT the way to go. It may have worked for you and that’s great, but personally, connecting with people via social media has landed me almost all of my work opportunities. Since digital platforms are becoming more collaborative, do not be afraid to message your favorite producer, host, podcaster or writer, asking for advice and collaboration opportunities. You could even DM them pitching segment ideas, as long as you do not have the arrogance to think you’re about to change their life. Express your desire to learn and work alongside them.
Having an opinion matters:
In today’s world, people have access to so much information and can easily call people out on their bullshit. Being opinionated conveys a genuine approach to the content you are putting out and will develop your unique style. I am not encouraging you to critique absolutely everything and putting people down constantly, but stating facts is no longer enough… Think outside the box and inject some personality in there!
Know when to stop working for free:
Unfortunately, this is a huge problem hosts are faced with today. Being given an opportunity is so important to gain experience and becoming more comfortable on camera. However, so many companies take advantage of the ‘exclusive’ aspect of hosting; the association with recognized talent through interviews, but also, the eagerness for camera time (especially here in LA). My advice to you is: once you get a decent reel, stop taking on free work. Out of respect to yourself and the industry you wish to work in. So many hosts are finding themselves out of work because ‘employers’ believe they are doing them a favor by featuring them. The more experienced hosts end up competing against fresh talent who are willing to work for free - and this might be you, down the line… If you are sure of yourself and confident in your skills, do not be afraid to discuss your rates. They may be lower if you are starting out, but remember: in today’s world, content is king; and there is value in what you have worked so hard towards…