I’m curious. Did anyone advertise writing careers when you were growing up? Beyond the doctor, lawyer, architect, CEO paths. I remember having to come to that realisation on my own: I could write for a living! The problem was I didn’t have a clue how to pursue it and the many different avenues available.
Let’s make things a bit easier for the new writers out there, shall we? Here are five ways you can earn a living doing the thing you love.
Let’s start with the obvious one… You can become a novelist, short story writer, poet, playwriter or so on. The challenge with this path is actually getting paid for it. There are independent publishers of short story anthologies like The Fiction Desk, who pay £20 per 1000 words for published submissions. But these opportunities – and chances of success – are pretty rare.
The best way to deal with this problem is to track down the most reliable and promising publications for your specific style, themes, and genres. Not all pay, but the publicity they’d provide is just as important.
This all applies to novels and poetry too. The internet is full of competitions and calls for submissions. What you need to do is pinpoint the right ones for you. Also consider self-publishing. Amazon, Draft2Digital, and other companies, may be one of the best routes for novelists especially.
With lots of practice, research, persistence, and willingness to write for scraps, you can get your foot in the door. As soon as your name is linked to a few published works, big or small, you’ve made a significant step towards making an impression with greater publications.
- Manage your expectations
- Hone your skill
- Attend creative writing courses
- Explore and learn your industry – consumer and publishing trends can differ from country to country
- Make lists of promising publications, as well as their submission guidelines and pay
- Plan for the likelihood of self-publication
- Keep track of anything you’ve published! Everyone you approach, from crowdfunding services to agents, will want to know what makes you special, aka your marketability
In the digital age, this is another writing career you probably already know about. So, maybe you’re also aware of how much effort it takes to become a paid blogger.
Ads and affiliate programmes are only worthwhile if visitors actually interact with those features on your blog. And this only happens if they’re interested in what you’re selling, which also depends on the popularity of your niche. So many influencing factors!
As a freelance blogger, you first need to turn your area of expertise into a paying one. This demands packaging and promoting it in a way that will attract people interested in buying something within that niche.
Then you need to get the word out through effective SEO, SEM, and social media marketing. If these terms sound like gibberish, I’d strongly recommend Google’s free and easy Fundamentals of Digital Marketing online course.
Freelancing not working out? There’s always the option of writing stuff for someone else. Websites like Writers Weekly, BloggingPro, and Medium offer payment for your articles.
- Learn how to write good blog posts, whether for an eshop or reviewing platform
- Digital marketing knowledge is absolutely essential! Do your own research or get training in SEO and promotional strategies
- Learn how ads, affiliate programmes and other payment methods work
- On that topic, don’t pile everything into your blog! Aim for a clear, productive look when choosing and arranging these features
- Explore alternative writing careers within this wordy branch – you can apply for such jobs like any other profession
Blogging is in fact one of several aspects of content writing careers. They all revolve around and contribute to the digital world, which in turn influences them. Considering the key role of words in adverts, guides, product pages, and the likes, there’s a lot a writer can get up to.
Paid content writing tasks include:
- Creating content for web design, such as home and landing pages
- Writing features and blog posts
- Putting together emails and press releases
- Developing a social media campaign with a tone of voice that matches each network’s audience
- Creating adverts with the perfect catchphrase and call to action
- Writing content and subtitles for videos
- Reviewing products
Basically, you’re writing with a digital marketing mentality. Not a creative writing one! Consumers – and Google’s crawlers – respond best to straightforward information that isn’t jarring when read on a screen.
The blogging advise above also applies to the grander content writing scheme, but let’s add a bit more detail:
- Once again, learn to differentiate between content and creative writing
- For example, passive voice is not good for SEO or readability – get used to automatically thinking and writing in active voice
- Learn about keywords and why they’re so important to SEO
- Read quality blog posts and articles to work out how they use keywords, especially awkward but very popular ones
- If looking for proper employment, check job descriptions for content writing responsibilities – job titles can range from social media executive to marketing administrator
Video Game Writer
Love gaming as much as writing? Then this is the job for you. It’s a great way to challenge your storytelling skills, because of the structure of modern video games.
Unless we’re talking about a basic first-person shooter that doesn’t have much of a narrative, replayability is almost essential in RPG, Adventure and the like. So, video game writers often have to come up with non-linear stories, branching them out into different directions depending on a player’s choices.
Among the many types of writing careers out there, this is a rather specialised one. A good first step is to be a gamer yourself or at least be familiar with the concept. Play different genres and explore how each title delivers its story – plot, dialogue, and all.
Play around with tools like Twine that allow you to create interactive stories for people to enjoy and rate. From there, actual experience in video game design would boost your chances of getting even better opportunities. Keep an eye out for offers from popular developers, whether events or jobs.
- Learn to write non-linear, interactive plots
- Make use of game writing tools
- Get to know the industry and what goes into creating a good video game
- Expect to find more contract-based employment than regular
- Upgrade your game development skillset for better chances at landing better and better projects
- Sign up with a writing agency and keep track of the gaming brands and trends
Comic Book Script Writer
Just like video games, writing for comic books can be a complicated but fun challenge. Their trickiness has less to do with how linear they are and more with their effective structuring. This affects their plot’s immersiveness and how well they fit and sit on their pages.
Try different methods of planning a story – mindmaps, cards, outlines. You need the narrative’s foundation, from start to climax to stirring conclusion, before you can start writing its script. Thinking about things like the characters, arcs and rhythm of the overall project.
It’s a long process that’ll need loads of edits before a solid comic book script is complete. Don’t let this put you put off. Read comics, pick up the tricks of the trade, and keep practising. Branch out into film and plays during your research – the structuring of their scripts isn’t much different. The end result is on a page, but it can be just as visually and emotionally stimulating.
- Learn visual and sequential storytelling
- Know how to plan a narrative? Redouble those efforts into painstaking details of your characters, plots, themes and so on
- Learn and keep evolving your script-writing skills, which emphasise a lot on dialogue
- Explore the world of comic books, including brands, styles, writers, and illustrators
- Expect to find more freelance and contract work
- Attend workshops and events to discover opportunities while improving your knowledge and skill
At this point, we can agree that you absolutely can turn your passion for words into a wonderful paying job. The problem with writing careers is that they tend to take much longer to build than mainstream professions. And the process can take an unnecessary toll on your confidence and peace of mind. But the digital age is also a highly creative one, so more and more opportunities are available if you just keep looking and perfecting your craft.
Are you a professional writer with advice of your own? Share your experiences in the comments below or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.
Want to continue your Book Breath journey?
This is really reallly useful. Thanks Electra.