My writing career started out as something few would deem a writing career. I made posts on different forums around the internet. For each comment I made, I received a check. It was only pennies per post, but doing dozens of posts per day meant the pennies added up quick. I was paid regularly for the words that I crafted, but THEY would tell you that I was not yet a writer.
Later on, I won a position as a columnist in a local paper. I was paid much less for the words I crafted for the paper. Being in print made me somehow more legitimate to all those THEYs out there. It was not as regular and it was not as much as I was making posting on forums, but it was print. It mattered.
My husband recognized that I enjoyed doing the forums and he liked that it came with a paycheck. The fact that I had found a unique path to earn money for my words and for the random bits of information floating around my head helped his enthusiasm. He encouraged me to expand my writing career. He had no understanding that THEY would not deem my writing for a forum as a writing career.
THEY will always want you to do things in a certain fashion. It is the way things are supposed to be. It is the way things work. Your THEY may be friends, family, mentors or the great industry, but you have to understand that your unique journey can never be dictated by outside forces. You choose. How you write can be influenced by the noise THEY make, but it does not have to be. You direct your unique path by discovering your why, understanding your what and putting it into action through a how that fits you.
How will you write?
Ways to Develop a Writing Career
1. Journalist – you can go the traditional route of journalism (including a journalism degree or communications degree). You can also pursue this route by unconditional methods, blending blogging with journalism.
2. Columnist – although this is also more of the traditional route, it is not typically bound by as many rules as a journalist. Columnists tend to have more flexibility in what they write and how they write. Although they are also bound by basic journalistic practices such as fact checking for accuracy (as should ALL writers, bloggers, and social media activist), they can utilize a creative flair in style and personal opinions. Blogs are full of columnist style writings.
3. Author – there are virtually (get it?) no limits to the routes available for becoming an author in this day and age. You can stick the fully traditional route complete with an agent and a publisher. You can do small press publishing. You can choose to be your own publisher and publicist and take the Indie path to publishing. The key to making a living wage as an author is to write and publish often (and be sure to create quality material that will bring the readers back for more).
4. Content writing – continuing down the virtual path to a writing career, you could be a ghost writer for websites around the internet. The forum writing I did opened doors for me to be invited to write blog posts for other websites. I found additional clients and discovered that I could make a living wage – enough to support the family – writing about everything from ash scattering services to average weather in cities around the globe. You need to be good at meeting deadlines, creating words that benefit the clients and the readers, and have a willingness to learn as you write. Research is one of the most valuable tools in the content writer’s toolbox.
5. Freelancer – every print or online publication you see has the potential for being a freelance writing opportunity. You build a career as a freelancer by meeting and surpassing the expectations of clients so that those clients will use you again and will recommend you for other jobs around the industry. Freelancers will need to have the ability to budget well. The pay can be very staggered.
I have used all of these options at one time or another, and sometimes I have utilized them all at the same time. It is not a matter of one way being the right way. It is your way being your way. Find what you are good at. Find what you are passionate about. Find where you are gifted and talented. Mold that into your HOW for building a writing career.