Have you ever dreamed of becoming a writer? If so, you are not alone. According to the Occupational Outlook Handbook, “many people are attracted to this occupation.”
Statistics Canada’s National Occupational Classification reports that authors and writers are employed by advertising agencies, governments, large corporations, private consulting firms, publishing firms, multimedia/new-media companies and other establishments.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment of writers and authors is projected to grow 3 percent from 2012 to 2022, slower than the average for all occupations.” Because so many people want to become writers, “strong competition is expected for full-time jobs.”
The solution for many would-be writers is self-employment, also known as freelancing. About two-thirds of writers were self-employed in 2012.
Kelly Boyer Sagert, author of the FabJob Guide to Become a Freelance Writer, has sold over 1,000 pieces of her writing to magazines, newspapers, online sites, and other publications.
Kelly says “there are multiple avenues that you can choose to pursue as a freelance writer – and many freelancers choose to pursue several of them, rather than just one. In the big picture, though, there are two main routes and, really, there is no reason why you can’t choose to do both.”
Writing for Publication
If you are like many writers, you love to see your writing in print. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of picking up a magazine or book and seeing your own words on the page – knowing that thousands of people will read what you have written.
And if you write for popular online publications, your words could be read by literally millions of readers. The icing on the cake is that you are paid to do something you love.
When you write for publication, you may write articles or other pieces (such as essays, columns, or reviews) for publication in magazines, newsletters, websites, books, or even encyclopedias (as Kelly does).
Writing for Clients
If writing for publication is the “sizzle,” then writing for clients is the “steak.” While it may not offer the same excitement that comes with seeing one of your articles in a popular magazine, writing for clients can offer solid rewards including more stability and higher pay for many freelancers.
This type of freelance writing is done for corporations, non-profit organizations, government agencies, or even individuals who want to hire a writer. If you choose this route, your writing work will depend on your clients’ needs and your own interests and skills.
Some freelancers who write for clients choose a broad specialization such as “copywriting” or “technical writing”. Copywriting involves writing marketing and advertising materials such as brochures, press releases, and web pages.
Technical writing involves writing instructions such as user manuals for cars, assembly instructions for furnitures, or training manuals for business.
Or you might choose a narrow specialization such as writing grant proposals for non-profit arts groups, “ghostwriting” autobiographies, writing business plans for start-up companies, “search engine optimization” for retailers, or any other area that interests you and that clients need help with.
Writing for clients usually pays an hourly or per project rate. If you write for publication, you will usually be paid per word or per piece written.
However, freelance writing offers many benefits beyond pay. “The great majority of freelance writers work from home – and love every minute of it!” says Kelly. Not only does this flexible career let you set your own hours, depending on the type of writing you do you can make a difference in people’s lives or meet interesting people and visit fascinating places.
Kelly’s adventures have included interviewing best-selling romance writer Nora Roberts, descending three quarters of a mile into the earth while exploring caverns, and watching a World Series game at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum after giving a presentation based on a book she wrote about baseball player “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.
Tag Goulet is co-founder of FabJob.com and Academic Director of the International Association of Professions Career College which offers professional certificates for dream careers at www.iapcollege.com.