Could you be one of Farmers Weekly’s regular columnists?

Do you have a good sense of the issues that matter to farmers? Do you have strong opinions? Can you articulate them clearly and concisely?

If so, you could be who we’re looking for, because Farmers Weekly is on the hunt for new contributors to join its stable of regular writers.

See also: Charlie Flindt – stuck sheep sparks ‘retirement rage’

We’re running a writing competition to help us select our new columnists – so if you want to be in with a shot, all you’ve got to do is choose one of the titles below and send us a 600-word piece on it before 10 April 2023:

  • Have Defra policymakers forgotten the uplands?
  • Is farming still a boys’ club?
  • An agricultural degree – priceless or pointless?
  • Has devolution delivered for farmers in Wales? 
  • The best bit of farming advice I’ve ever been given is…. 
  • Is it possible to juggle parenting and farming?
  • Does farming need a national advertising campaign?
  • Why farm accidents needn’t be a fact of life
  • When it comes to agriculture, Scotland’s new first minister should…
  • Why I’m staying loyal to livestock markets.

It is certainly not a prerequisite that you have any writing experience. Some of FW’s best columnists over the years have come to the position with no writing background.

But they have won loyal readers though their hard-hitting and humorous observations, some drawing on personal experience. The best columnists always make readers think – and sometimes make them laugh or even cry.

Similarly, it’s by no means necessary that applicants already have a profile in the industry (although those who do are very welcome to apply). 

You just need to be able to articulate your opinions clearly and concisely and write them in a fluent and engaging way.

Don’t feel like you need to be an expert on every subject to be considered, either. Columnists always have particular preoccupations and particular areas of experience. 

Similarly, it’s irrelevant whether you are 18 or 80, male or female, based in Land’s End or John O’Groats – all that matters is that you can consistently write thought-provoking pieces that strike a chord with farmers and their families.

There will be a fee paid, so we need people who can generate their own ideas, work to deadlines and write accurately.

In addition to the 600 words, please also send us a little bit of information about yourself, why you think you’d make a great columnist and a sense of the topics you’d potentially like to cover.

Below are nine tips for columnists that you may find useful:

Elevator pitch     

If someone asks you what the column is about, could you tell them in one sentence? This is a useful discipline because, if you can’t, the piece may be too broad in its scope.

Being able to give an “elevator pitch” isn’t dumbing down – it’s making the message sufficiently focused that readers will be more likely to remember it.

Can you imagine a short headline for your column? If not, again, it might be too broad/dissolute.

Write how you talk

Columns work best if the writer’s personality comes across. Legalese and jargon can put readers off. Try to avoid formality. Say “I love shooting” not “One is inclined to shoot when one can”.

Grab your readers’ attention

You only have one chance to make a good first impression – so your first line should grab readers.

You have to convince them that they should take time out of their busy day to continue reading and they won’t do this unless it’s impactful/tantalising/funny etc.

End with a bang

Go out on a bang by making your last line really strong. One useful device columnists often use is to end where they started.

In other words, by linking directly back either to a theme or a word/name/place mentioned in the first paragraph. 

Stick to the word limit

Word limits are absolute, so 600 words means 600 words.

Get it down on paper

If you’re struggling, just try to get started. You can always edit later – but if you haven’t got anything on paper, you haven’t got anything to edit.

Avoid too many sentences in a paragraph

If you have more than four, the article can appear blocky and this can be a disincentive to readers. Varying the length of the sentences helps the flow of the piece.

And try to keep punctuation simple. You’re doing readers a service, not a disservice, if you make it simple for them to read. Generally, semi-colons and colons are to be avoided.

Also, exclamations marked should be used sparingly (if at all).

Write what you really think

If you’re writing about an issue, try not to say “the arguments for are X and the arguments against are Y”. Yes, you want to sound fully informed, but ultimately readers want to hear what you, the columnist, thinks. So don’t be afraid of sharing strong views.

Use humour

Humour can be a great way of connecting with readers and can lead a piece to get shared widely on social media. But humour is very personal, so keep this in mind.

Email your entries to by 10 April 2023.

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