A career in writing can look different for many, and is usually far from what people imagine it to be. Some are technical writers who spend their time meticulously creating manuals, guides, and similar works. Others dive deep into their imagination to create their next novel. Some work set schedules for a company with job security and routine while some decide their own schedules, answering to no one but themselves.
However unique writing careers can be, they most often start the same way. And, if you’ve decided to commit to becoming a professional writer, you may be unsure where or how to start. If so, you have found the right post!
The three main steps to building and beginning a writing career include deciding the kind of writing you want to do, establishing your brand as a writer, and building your portfolio.
Decide What Kind of Writing You’ll Do
When someone mentions a career in writing, most think of the struggling aspiring author who is constantly getting rejected. However, there are many types of careers in writing, and if you want to be a writer, it’s important to know what kind of writing you want to do.
You want to be a best-selling author. As a creative person, you want to write novels, poems, short-stories, children’s books, or graphic novels. You enjoy brainstorming ideas and getting lost in the worlds you create through writing.
Includes a few different forms of writing, all involving being self-employed or contracted and finding clients. Technical writing, content writing, and copywriting are all forms of freelance writing.
You want the security and steady paycheck a traditional job offers, but still want to write. There are tons of different positions for writers from magazine companies, news outlets, and many more.
Some questions to ask yourself if you are unsure:
- Do you want to work for a company, be self-employed, or freelance?
Each route has its pros and cons, and though you can always try a different one, it’s nice to know the direction you’re headed.
- Do you like being creative and using your imagination or having guidelines and rules to follow?
If you don’t like coming up with story ideas and become stressed with too much leeway, technical writing may be for you. On the other hand, if you hate rules and enjoy putting your own spin in your writing, creative or freelance writing might better suit you.
Establish Your Brand as a Writer
Establishing your brand as a writer is one of the most critical steps in starting a writing career. This is how people will begin to come to you instead of you finding customers, clients, and supporters.
In short, establishing a brand as a writer includes creating a website or online portfolio, creating social media profiles for your writing career, and joining writing communities.
I have an entire post detailing how to brand yourself as a writer, which you can read here.
Like it or not, in today’s world, having an online presence (a brand, if you will) can make or break your business. And, even if you plan to be a hired writer, branding yourself as a writer will allow job opportunities to come to you. It can also make potential hirers more inclined to hire you if you have an impressive portfolio and/or website.
Build Your Portfolio
Again, another super important step as a writer is to build your portfolio. You may be tempted to include only what applies to your specific form of writing, but it’s a good idea to show a wider range of skills. Try to include a little bit of everything, or at least a few skills.
For example, if you’re a creative writer, you can include short-stories, poems, and snippets of novels in a range of genres. If you want to be a content writer, show any published writing, blog posts you’ve written, articles, etc.
Building a portfolio from scratch be difficult, especially if you have a separate job or other commitments, but it’s important to dedicate some time to writing.
Set goals to help you follow-through like 1 hour a week or 15 minutes before bed every night.
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