Freelancing and self-employment are on the rise in the UK, and 30% of American jobs are now held by the self-employed and the workers they hire. Self-employment is an attractive prospect because it allows you to be more independent whilst fostering your creativity. While it does come with its downsides, they’re often outweighed by the positives.
Writers, in particular, are in a great place to become their own boss because of the explosion in content marketing. Companies are being forced to reimagine themselves as publishers, and it seems like everyone and their dog has a blog now. That opens up fantastic opportunities for would-be writers, but it can still be difficult to tell where to start.
That’s where we come in. If you’re looking to get started as a writer then you’re in luck. Here are seven essential strategies to get you on your way.
How to Launch Your Writing Career in 7 Steps
1. Find a Niche
Stephen King is the world’s most notorious horror author. Seth Godin specializes in writing about marketing. Shakespeare was a playwright. If you want to find your place in the writing world, you’ll need to find a niche and stick to it. Establish yourself as an authority on a subject of your choice – whether that’s fashion, film or politics.
2. Start a Blog
This one is a no-brainer. If you want to be taken seriously as a writer, it helps to have a public-facing blog in which you share your thoughts on your area of expertise. If you found yourself a niche as per the first strategy, this is what your blog should be about. Your blog can help you make connections, and many people make money through their blogs using sponsored posts and affiliate links.
3. Find an Internship
Signing up for an internship can help you to learn new skills from the people who’ve gone out there and carved out a niche before you. Some internships pay and some don’t so weigh your options before committing. While you’re there, save your work and any emails you receive so that you can add them to your portfolio – it’ll help you to find paid work in the future.
4. Read as Much as You Can
Stephen King here again! His advice to new authors is, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” Reading books, blogs and magazines will help you broaden your mind and your vocabulary. If you focus on publications that cover your niche, you will also develop your specialist knowledge.
5. Submit to Authoritative Websites
Once you start to read different publications – whether online or off – you’ll get a good idea of the different publishers and what kind of stories they focus on. The next step is to submit your own work so that your writing can appear on the sites that you love. Send a query to the editor first and be sure to include a rough outline of what you’d like to write about. Some sites pay their writers and others don’t – but either way, it helps to get your name out there.
As soon as you have a portfolio of published work, it’s time for you to start cashing in on it. Sign up to freelancing sites like Upwork and PeoplePerHour and contact local companies to try to drum up a little business. It can be slow going at first, but you’ll be able to build up the work over time until one day you wake up and discover that you’re a full-time freelance writer.
They say that it’s not what you know – it’s who you know. While there’s a perception of writers as solitary creatures, sitting hunched over a computer keyboard in their bedroom, that’s only part of the story. You’ll still want to attend expos, events, conferences, and signings so that you can meet other writers and share your story. You never know what might come out of it.
Ultimately, becoming a professional writer is one thing – and making money from it is quite another. Some writers are perfectly happy to write what they want and to worry about the money afterward, which is good for them. But if you want to make a career out of writing, you’ll need to learn to monetize your work and to develop your time management, business management, and accounting skills.
It’s not an easy journey, but it’s rewarding. Whether you choose to embark on it is up to you.
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