How to Make a Career Out of Writing

Don’t you wish you could write all the time and get paid for it? Sounds like a dream come true, right? Believe it or not, it is indeed possible to make a solid career out of writing, but not in the way you’d expect.

As always, I’m going to offer a little backstory to prove a point…

After I graduated from college with my degree in English, I decided to search for jobs where I could put my writing talents to the test. I didn’t know EXACTLY what I wanted to do, but I knew that it had to involve writing in some capacity. I remember going on Monster.com and browsing the various job categories for potential leads. I found one job listing under the “printing and publishing” section and eagerly submitted my application. I got a call a few days later and landed an interview. I thought, “Wow, that was easier than I thought. Now that I have my foot in the door at a printing place, my writing career will definitely take off!”

Long story short, I ended up becoming a service technician (it turns out the printing company I had applied to was contracted by a technician business). Needless to say, it threw me through a bit of a loop. However, I enjoyed the job and spent almost a year there before I left to work as a call center employee for an insurance carrier. Yeah, my writing career sure was skyrocketing!

It wasn’t until 2013 that I got my first REAL full-time job as a writer, and since then, I’ve been able to make a steady career out of it.

“So what’s your secret, Alessandro? How do you find a career as a writer?”

Want to know my secret?

Er… there really isn’t any secret. It’s just about looking in the right places.

Sorry if that’s a bit of a letdown. If I knew how to make smoke and strobe lights appear on the page, I would. But I guess the revelation isn’t all that flashy. You can make a career out of writing starting with just a grain of experience. All you need to do is search for the right opportunities and take the right chances.

First of all, fix up your resume. If you have a very generic resume that only showcases a few skills and responsibilities, you’ll have a hard time finding a job in writing (or any field that isn’t sales or customer service). Whatever writing experience you may have, no matter how insignificant it may seem, find a way to incorporate it into your resume. Do you blog? Put it on your resume. Did you write a column for your college newspaper? Put it on your resume. Do you write copy for your company flyer or email blast? Put it on your resume. There is always a way to spin things to your advantage, and with a little tweaking here and there, you can make yourself stand out as an emerging writer eager for work.

Despite all this, you never want to lie about or over-inflate your talents. If you wrote a few words for a flyer about an upcoming company picnic, you can’t say you “drastically increased attendance of company-sponsored event by composing, editing, and delivering sensitive information in a timely manner to a diverse audience.” That sounds fancy and whatnot, but it’ll be really awkward when you have to explain yourself in the interview. Brag about your work, but don’t go overboard.

Next, you have to actually look for the job. It’s not as easy as going on Monster and searching for the term “writer”. You’ll have to search for terms like “marketing”, “content”, and “copy”. The best types of writing jobs (that you get paid for on a regular basis) are going to be in the marketing realm. A lot of digital marketing today is dependent on proper content, and many companies are searching for writers who can develop creative, engaging, keyword-heavy content for their sites. Keep an eye out for those marketing positions!

If you’re lucky, you can find writing jobs that are outside of the marketing arena. I remember once stumbling on a job where I could write quests for adventure video games. I also encountered a job listing as a writer for DC Comics. Unfortunately, both of these positions required a crazy amount of experience, none of which I possessed. It seems like the really, really good writing jobs are far and few between, and the only way to get them is to have a foot in the door at the company. If you’re able to attain such an awesome job, congratulations! If not, don’t beat yourself up.

Don’t limit yourself solely to writing jobs either. Look for editor and proofreader positions as well. Even though you’re not doing the actual writing itself, you’re still exercising some important abilities to help you build your writing repertoire. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished that I had more editing experience. Alas, those jobs are almost as difficult to find as solid writing positions.

No matter what job you decide on, any writing is good writing. It’s like a muscle – the more you do it, the stronger it becomes. My writing has vastly improved since my first day writing content full-time. Even if it gets a little stale constantly writing marketing content day in and day out, I know that I’m still strengthening that writing muscle – and I’m getting paid for it! Two-for-one deal.

Not every writing experience has to be a full-time job, by the way. You can do guest posts and freelance work if the opportunity arises. While it’s difficult to live solely off freelance, it can certainly enhance your resume and your writing prowess. Don’t count out any opportunities just because they don’t pay well. Every little bit helps.

Writing full-time may not be for everyone. You might hate having to follow the strict codes of corporate writing or meticulously crafting your content to accommodate the best SEO practices. If it’s not for you, it’s no big deal. At the very least, you still want to WRITE EVERY DAY. But wouldn’t you rather be paid for it?

Is there a particular topic you’d like me to cover in a future post? Leave a comment, or head on over to my Facebook page and share your thoughts!

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