Want to become a motoring journalist? Here's how...

Get R2000 off when you sign up for a GetSmarter online short course to add to your motoring journalism CV…

While being a motoring journalist has its perks, from travel opportunities to adrenaline-inducing experiences, it requires huge amounts of dedication and you need to be prepared to put in many extra hours in respect of travel time. Every day spent at an event or a new-car launch is a day out of the office (and a day that you’ll need to catch up on), but if you’re keen, willing and able, then you’re in for the ride of your life.

Take a look at these 10 steps to becoming a motoring journalist:

1. Identify your Goals

So you’ve decided that you want to become a motoring journalist. The next step is to establish what aspect of motoring journalism you’d like to be involved in.

These days, motoring journalism encompasses many aspects of the industry, from photography and videography to presenting and editing, to name just a few, so the more skills you have, the better.

2. Study

It’s all very well being a petrolhead, but if you decide you want to become a motoring writer then it’s obvious that you need to have experience in the art of writing. Studying is a good way to gain experience and skills, and to make your CV stand out. Apart from the obvious university degrees such as a BA where you could major in English and Journalism, you could boost your credentials by taking an extra online short course.


GetSmarter collaborates with world leading universities to select, design and deliver premium online short courses. The South African portfolio includes Social Media Marketing, Photography and Copy-writing for online marketing (amongst others), all of which are selected and designed to give you market relevant knowledge enabling you to make your next career move. For a limited time, GetSmarter is providing WOW readers R2000 off any South African University online short course by signing up here.

Social Media Marketing

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Social media is a huge part of online journalism and an integral part of growing a brand’s audience. Many job descriptions include social-media experience and responsibilities on some level and although much of this can be self-taught, taking a course in this will teach you a whole lot more.

Digital Photography 

Click here to sign up 

These days, nearly all motoring journalists are able to photograph cars themselves – even if it’s with their phone for social media. Having a photography course on your CV is great for attracting potential employers, or to become self-sufficient if you want to start your own brand.

Copywriting for Online Marketing

Click here to sign up 

Learn how to turn information into attention-grabbing headlines and copy for a variety of audiences. Copywriting is an integral part of motoring journalism, and even if it’s not specific to the field you’re thinking of getting into, it will come into play in one way or another.

Click here for more info on these courses.

3. Apply for Job Shadowing/Internship Opportunities

Job shadowing and internships are a great way to get first-hand experience and to develop contacts in the field. This kind of opportunity might also help you decide whether this really is the sort of career you want to be in. Publications are often on the lookout for an extra pair of hands and even if they’re not advertising for a position, it’s worth submitting your CV and asking for your details to be kept on record.

4. Develop a niche

While there are hundreds of keen aspiring motoring journalists out there with lots to offer, it’s important that you establish what makes you stand out. What can you offer that would benefit an employer, brand or publication? A good place to start is to write a list of skills that you’ve developed, along with your qualities and attributes, and align them with the industry’s needs. Perhaps you have a skill or talent that could bring something new and dynamic to the industry. These are things that will make you stand out in an interview and will likely be the reason an employer remembers you when it comes to shortlisting. And note that although the motoring industry is still very much a male-dominated one, it is improving!

5. Go to Events

There are tons of motoring events taking place on a monthly basis in South Africa. Keep up to date by subscribing to newsletters, groups and channels, and never say no to an event, even if it’s not in line with the aspect of motoring you’re interested in. You might just be surprised how much you enjoy it, and you’ll get to meet and network with relevant people in the industry.

6. Chat to the Experts

If you know someone in the industry, reach out and pick their brain! If they’ve been in the industry long enough (and they’re good at what they do), they’ll have a wealth of knowledge to share with you. Listen to what they say and take their word for it, because the industry is constantly evolving – and a big part of staying in it is keeping up with it.

If you don’t know anyone specifically in the motoring industry, chat to someone who does and ask whether they could connect you with the person via e-mail. Don’t be scared to ask questions – it’s the only way you’ll learn.

7. Read about it

If you’re not reading about the motoring industry on a daily basis then what are you doing trying to get into the industry? It really needs to be your passion and something you take a daily interest in. Apart from knowing about new car models, driving is a part of our daily lives and vehicle purchasing is our biggest investment next to that of a house, so motoring news is big and you need to know what’s happening locally and internationally.

Keep checking news sites, social-media pages and groups, and know your fake news from your reliable sources.

8. Join Groups  

There are tons of social-media groups based on new cars and industry updates, but there are also career groups such as The Resource that regularly post both full-time and freelance jobs.

9. Toughen up

The motoring industry can be a fickle one – especially if you are new to the game and are trying to make a name for yourself. While it is growing in terms of the number of people trying to grow their brands and/or get into the industry, it’s a job at the end of the day and competition is high. Like in all areas of life, don’t expect everyone to be your best friend. Be friendly by all means, but keep all your relationships professional and be respectful. You’re there to do your job.

10. Be Diligent

Don’t get carried away with the perks and the glam. Yes, there will be lots of travelling to new and exciting places, along with wining and dining, but as attractive as this is, it’s important to see this as part of the opportunity to represent your brand or company, and to network with other brands and manufacturers. While being social and friendly is a good way to make contacts in the industry, always be diligent and stay focused on your call of duty.

[* These tips are merely guidelines and do not serve as guaranteed steps to becoming a motoring journalist. Every employer/company/business is different and we encourage you to research any prospective job opportunities.]