In My Opinion: Andrew Smillie: There’s never been a better time to show off your DIY media skills

IF, like me, you’re aged between 18 and 30, then according to the movie character, Gordon Gekko, we’re the ‘NINJA’ generation: we have no income, no job and no assets.

Few seeking a career in the media would argue. Jobs are scarce and opportunities for paid training in the industry are thin on the ground. Add into the already saturated jobs market a stream of graduates leaving the protection of university and college, and it only gets worse.

On the surface, it looks all doom and gloom and without much cause to get excited, but, actually, there’s never been a better time to exercise a bit of that old Punk ethos of DIY and create your own work.

Because, it’s the best way to get yourself noticed. Plus it helps keep your writing, editing, publishing and marketing skills sharp.

Make anything but make something. A podcast, a three-minute interview on camera, a short blog, whatever. Make something that can be enjoyed by an audience.

My thing is broadcasting, rather than print. And editing software for both audio and video are now pretty cheap; indeed, some phones now come with software already installed. So there’s no excuse.

Outside of that, talk to your local college of further education about gaining access to facilities; the worst they can say is no. For sound editing, the best ‘freebie’ out there is still Audacity but if you want the best DAW (digital audio workstation) available, then check out Reaper.

The guys who made it operate a ‘goodwill box’ at checkout; so if you’re a student, you pay about $60 and if you’re a professional then it’ll set you back about $225. It doesn’t get any fairer than that. For visuals, there’s a myriad of editing platforms, so shop around for the cheapest.

In terms of platforms to hold your content, iTunes is still the best ‘window’, but, you will need to find and set up a ‘host site’; basically an online storage site that will work with iTunes. I use PodBean which sets me back about $16 a month, but shop around. There’s also Soundcloud, Mixcloud, Audioboo, all of which come with pay and upgrade options but are free at entry, and of course there’s YouTube too.

Of course, if no-one knows about you, what you do and what your products are, then the battle is half lost. You have to be able to get your ‘stuff’ to market.

For this, again, social media is invaluable but don’t exclude traditional methods too. Business cards, badges and stickers are just as popular as sending a tweet, and I’d argue, more effective in making a connection. In 54 weeks of trading, I’ve ordered badges and stickers three times and business cards only once. Free badges. Always a winner!

It makes me cringe, the word, ‘networking’. But what it is is talking to people at events. And that’s important, to get yourself known, as a producer of content and as a possible employee.

At media events, you’ll realise two things: (1) the people behind the titles actually have faces and are quite personable and (2) they’re always up for talking and drinking.

The latter, particularly!

Andrew Smillie is a producer and writer and runs Crabbit Sparra Productions Ltd.