When you say that you want to make a career as a writer, you are likely to see a few raised eyebrows and the occasional smirk. Why? Well, writing is often seen as a creative pursuit. Something that people carry out as a hobby rather than something that you can make a living from. People also often also assume that when you say you want to be a “writer???, you intend to become the next Stephen King, J.K Rowling, or Stephenie Meyer.
Of course, making millions from a novel is a farfetched dream and, though some will succeed in this venture, you may want to take a more realistic approach towards making a living from putting pen to paper. But the truth is that written text is everywhere. We read from morning to night. From advertisements to blog posts, newspaper reports, product descriptions, and social media announcements, there’s writing everywhere, and most of the time, someone has to produce it and believe it or not, they are paid in turn for their efforts! So, if your strengths lie in your written communication, here are a few sage pieces of advice in regards to crafting a career from your talents!
Expanding Your Skills and Honing Your Craft
The first step that you should take on your journey towards becoming a recognised writer is to expand on your skills and truly hone your craft. This will take a good combination of reading, writing and educating yourself through higher education institutions.
Perhaps the most effective way of improving your writing is to read more. Read voraciously. Consume whatever written content you can get your hands on, no matter what the subject area. Take in the good and the bad. Why? Well, firstly, reading helps you to expand your vocabulary. Most of us become set in our ways of expressing ourselves and use the same vocabulary day in and day out. But reading exposes you to other people’s vocabularies, familiarising you with all sorts of words that you may not have even heard of before. It also exposes you to different forms. If you read plenty of novels, blog posts, news articles, essays and product descriptions, you will quickly come to understand the expectations that people will have when requesting different types of text.
It’s always good to have some sort of qualification to be able to show potential clients your competence and capabilities. So how do you get your hands on these valuable pieces of paper? Education. Generally speaking, the best subject to take when trying to prove your writing skills will either be English Literature or Creative Writing. The majority of higher education institutes will offer one of these courses. Browse the syllabus that each institution offers. Degrees will generally take you three years to complete if you study full-time, so this is a commitment. Alternatively, take a look at short courses or summer courses. If you have a particular area of interest, there’s likely to be some sort of intensive short course that will help you to master the area.
Once you’ve built up your skills, or while you’re practising them, it’s a good idea to start gaining experience. This will give potential employers confidence in your ability when taking you on.
Writing Guest Posts
When we read someone’s blog, we generally assume that all of the content they post is their own. However, increasing numbers of sites have started taking on guest posts. This means that someone else writes a post and publishes it to the blog. This benefits both the blog and the writer. Why? Well, the blog can benefit from the extra content, written from a different viewpoint or focusing on a subject that you may not have much knowledge or experience in writing about. For you as the writer, you get your piece exposed to a larger audience who can then research you and your own blog. It also allows you to build up a portfolio to use as examples of your writing, which you can bring out when applying to new roles. To find sites that accept guest posts, use a Guest Post Tracker.
Contributing to Small Papers and Publications
Another way to build up a strong portfolio is to contribute to small papers and publications. These may not have as much money to offer in return for the content you produce, but they are likely to have a wide readership, again offering you the opportunity to expose your work to as many people as possible. Again, you can add any pieces to your ever-growing portfolio.
Most publishers will want to know that you are competent and capable before taking you on for a role. This is why you might want to consider undertaking an internship programme. Internships can be problematic, as some employers exploit schemes and merely replace one intern after another, essentially getting free work throughout the year. So it’s important that you research the companies that you’re applying to and ensure that they don’t exploit these schemes or artistic or creative workers. If possible, find a scheme where you are paid in some way, even if the pay is low. This shows that the company value your work and don’t expect you to put in a lot of effort to benefit them for free. The benefit of internships is that you get to immerse yourself in a professional setting and can grow used to the daily routine and protocol that come hand in hand with these positions.
Finding a Permanent Role
Of course, you can’t work for free for forever. So you do need to secure a full-time job once you’ve completed all of these steps. By this point, you should be qualified and have an expansive portfolio showcasing your skill and experience. You should also hopefully have made contacts in the industry who may be able to alert you to new positions and openings. Don’t hesitate. Apply to each job as soon as it comes up, as competition is tough and positions are quickly taken.
Dedication is essential when it comes to making a career out of writing. Candidates far outweigh positions, and you’re going to have to put in a lot of hard work and time to secure your dreams. But it will all be worth it in the end!