So, you want to be a writer. Congratulations, you’ve chosen yourself one of the most challenging and yet rewarding career paths you could possibly have opted for! They don’t tend to offer courses or recruitment camps for writers when you’ve left college or university. You may have a degree in English Language, English Literature, or Creative Writing, but that’s no guarantee of finding work.
Most companies and industries that will pay you for writing will want to see a resume of your work before commissioning anything from you. That puts you in a Catch 22 situation. How are you supposed to build up a resume if nobody will give you a chance to start writing? With so many different fields of writing – from journalism to writing scripts, books, poetry, opinion columns, or just general web content, what’s the best place to start looking?
It can feel a little like a minefield when you’re first starting out, but there are ways into the profession if you’re focused and determined enough to make it. Here are five simple tips that we’re happy to pass on to anybody who’s looking to turn a hobby into a paid job
- Be Prepared To Write About Anything
You might have the best idea for a book or script in your head, and you probably want to write that before anything else, but it’s unlikely anyone’s going to take a submission from you seriously if you don’t have a track record which suggests you’re good with the written word. You can’t afford to pick and choose what you write about when you’re first starting out. If someone wants an article about what to wear this summer, you best be prepared to write it. If you’re asked to identify the next big trend in video games, you should take the time to familiarize yourself with the market, and come up with a solid suggestion for that trend. Writers aren’t just writers; they’re researchers. They go away, learn about the topic they’re writing for, and then put those thoughts into their own words. At the very beginning of your career, writing anything at all is better than writing nothing.
- Get To Know The Gig Economy
If the phrase ‘gig economy’ is a new one on you, you should probably stop what you’re doing and do some in-depth research into it before you take another step towards changing your career path. For the majority of people finding their way into writing right now – especially those who wish to do so on a totally self-employed basis – the gig economy is the fastest way to earning money. The gig economy was practically made for writers, with websites like Fiverr and Upwork providing opportunities for new writers to prove their worth by taking small jobs from companies or individuals who need content writers. Once you have your foot in the door with someone, they’re likely to place larger and larger orders with you so long as you can keep providing the goods.
- Be Prepared To Work For Free
This covers a lot of bases. If you want to get your foot in the door with a particular website – say, for example, a sports website – your starting point is probably to send them your work for free, hope they like it, and then agree on a price for future work. There has been considerable debate over whether writers should really do this, considering that nobody in almost any other line of work is expected to work for free in the hope of earning something in the future. Our take on it is that unless you’re coming into a writing job straight from education, with something resembling an apprenticeship, it’s a cruel necessity. Nobody is going to pay you for your work if they don’t have a guarantee of quality. If you send them an example of what you can do, they can then make an informed decision as to whether they want anything further from you. If you get it right, you should only have to do this once. Whether it’s a screenplay or an article, make it a great one, invest your time and effort in it thoroughly, and turn it into your calling card. If it’s truly good enough, someone will invest in you.
- Be Prepared For Rejection
You will get turned down. You should know that before you even open your laptop and start typing. Not everything is going to believe in what you write as much as you do, and not everybody will value your work as highly as you do. JK Rowling was famously turned down dozens of times with the first ‘Harry Potter’ novel before someone was persuaded to take a chance on it. Trying to make a career out of creative writing is like playing online slots; you keep on putting something into it – be it money or time – and the majority of the time you get nothing back. Online slots will pay out eventually though, and that’s what everyone sticks around for. One day, playing a casino game like Fluffy Favourites Slot will pay out a jackpot, and if you’re lucky you’ll be the one walking away in profit. Writing is the same. Take every rejection as a spin and a loss. Keep on spinning, and eventually, your reward will come if you’re lucky and talented enough.
- Make Friends With Other Writers
We honestly don’t know how aspiring writers coped before the internet. Writing is a lonely craft, often conducted in silence and solitude. When things aren’t going well, it’s hard to know who to turn to and what to do next. The internet has taken a lot of that loneliness away. Support and friendship groups to writers are all over social media, and plenty of online forums as well. Making friends with other writers will give you a go-to resource for ideas and inspiration – but there’s so much more, too. You’ll often find writers will share work opportunities, tell you when and where to submit articles, and even personally refer you to somebody they’re already working with. They’ll proofread for you, and provide critiques and feedback. Nobody knows what the psychological side of being a writer is like, other than other writers. If you registered on a forum today and asked someone for ideas about how to start a career in the trade, you’d probably find you get even more ideas than you’ve just read in this article – so why don’t you go and do it right now?