Thinking about how to start a full-time or freelance your writing career but don’t know where to start? We have some ideas for you! Read on to find out what you can do firsthand.
Rate Your Chances
To be able to make a living with a craft, one has to be really good at it. It’s pretty obvious – but still, often overlooked by many aspiring writers. The problem is, most people assume they’re good at writing just because they can put words into sentences. That’s not exactly true.
So, before deciding to embark on a journey to start your writing career, make sure your work is worth something. How can you tell? Well, if friends frequently approach you asking “ can you please write my paper?”, chances are you really can do it.
But what if you’re not that person? Don’t get discouraged right away. Writing is a craft, and therefore, can be learned, given that you do have some aptitude.
Write a Lot
And here’s the thing – to become better at writing, you need to practice a lot. Remember Cassandra Mortmain from “I Capture the Castle”? She used to write every day in her journal to hone her skills. And she was right to do so because practice makes perfect.
So, you can start a journal like fictional Cassandra, or write short stories like the very real Stephen King, or volunteer to edit your college newspaper. Just make sure you actually write something and not just daydream while lying on a couch.
Find Your Passion or Share Expertise
If you have a passion – something you can go on talking about for hours – you’re already halfway there. Surely, professional writers can take up almost any topic – but when you’re just starting out, it’s vital to write about things you are proficient in.
Are you an avid traveler? Start with travel reports. Typical bookworm or a passionate moviegoer? Try your hand at film or book reviews. If you’re an expert in a particular field – say, economics or finance or HR – share your expertise in guides and how-to articles.
If non-fiction is not your thing, you can use your knowledge and expertise for writing fiction, too. In fact, that’s exactly what most writers have done, from Ernest Hemingway to Ian Fleming to Dan Brown.
Define Your Niche
As you write about your passions or share expertise, you’ll become aware of the many ways in which your career can develop. Here are just a few main types of niches you can choose depending on your tastes and inclinations.
- Fiction writing
In addition to these three, there are many in-between niches. Your job is to find where you fit best.
Create a Portfolio
You won’t go far without a decent portfolio – i.g. a selection of your best works to show your potential clients or employers. And here’s the catch-22: you need some published pieces to get a job, but you can’t get anything published without a portfolio.
But is it really that bad? No. Firstly, you can submit your unpublished works, and if they’re good enough, you might still get your chance. Secondly, getting something published in 2021 is easier than ever.
- Start a blog;
- Publish on a profit-sharing platform;
- Submit a guest post;
- Get an unpaid internship.
You can even publish articles on social media – anything will do for a start as long as your writing is good.
Search for Writing Jobs
Now that you have a portfolio, you can put together a resume, write a cover letter and start looking for jobs. These can be found in various places like:
- Regular job boards;
- Writing job boards;
- Social media communities;
- “We’re hiring”/”Vacancies” sections on company websites.
Plus you can also contact any media/company you’re interested in directly through networking or simply using the contacts on the company’s website. Again, don’t get downhearted when you don’t receive feedback: it usually takes dozens of attempts for a novice to succeed.
Build Up Online Presence
Having a portfolio is a must, but being omnipresent on the internet can really work miracles. So, make sure that your social media accounts clearly represent who you are as a professional. Write about your work on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, publish articles on LinkedIn, and set up a decent personal website.
Here were the main things to do to start a writing career in 2021. However, this list is by no means comprehensive because there’s so much more that can be done.
For example, you can take writing courses or even earn a degree, engage in networking, or hire an agent when things start to look promising. But whatever you do, remember that writing is as much a vocation as it is a trade: you’ve got to really love it so that it could pay you back.