When your professor asks your journalism or writing class what type of writing jobs they want to pursue after graduation, most people will probably say they want to work at a magazine or newspaper. If it’s a creative writing class, the most common response might be to write novels or short stories or something along those lines.
I know this because I was in that classroom not too long ago. Like my peers, I wanted to take my love of writing to a glossy fashion magazine where I could interview celebrities and sit front-row at the hottest fashion shows. However, after graduation, I quickly learned that there were lots of aspiring magazine writers and not a lot of jobs—the same is often true about newsroom positions. I was forced to expand my scope—what else could I do with my writing chops?
If you’re in the same boat as I was, it’s worthwhile to consider some lesser-heralded, but equally rewarding writing jobs you can pursue outside the newsroom. Here are a few paths you can take as an aspiring writer:
1. Content Writing
One increasingly popular writing career—the one that I ultimately ended up pursuing—is content writing, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Think of all the websites, white papers, ebooks and blog posts that make up the Internet. Someone had to write all that, and the job generally falls to content writers.
To be a successful content writer, you should be well versed in the different style guides, understand the basics of search engine optimization, know how to tailor your writing to different audiences and be able to churn out highly readable content on a variety of subjects.
While copywriting and content writing may seem interchangeable, they’re actually quite different career paths. Content writing is more of an editorial career, while copywriting is generally geared more toward marketing or advertising. As a copywriter, you’ll likely be tasked with crafting emails, advertising copy, sales pages and even direct mail. This may require many of the same skills as content writing, but you’ll also need to be a pithy writer with a knack for creating memorable calls to action.
3. Technical Writing
Another more specialized writing path is technical writing, which, again, is exactly what it sounds like. Certain industries need writers with more specialized knowledge to handle their content creation needs, and that’s where technical writers come in. If you have a background in computer hardware or software, engineering, medicine or another scientific field, you may be well-suited to pursue a career as a technical writer.
4. Freelance Writing
Want to do a bit of every kind of writing? You can pick and choose your writing projects if you go the freelance route. It’s not something that works for everyone, as you have to be focused and self-motivated, but if you do choose to become a freelancer, you’ll be able to make your own hours, try different kinds of writing and build great personal relationships with your clients.
If you’re a wiz with grammar and syntax, you may also want to consider copyediting jobs. While you won’t get to create content directly, you’ll play an important role in the editorial process and get to work with writers to hone their craft.
As you can see, there are many ways for you to pursue your love for writing once you graduate. Don’t limit yourself to just one type of writing job, as you never know what opportunity might be the perfect fit!
4 responses to “Careers in the Writing Field: 5 Options for Aspiring Wordsmiths”
A useful overview, thanks! I think freelance writing is such an interesting path, as you can really tailor your work to your own interests, particularly as you become more experienced and established.
I know you posted this over a year ago, but, as usual, I’m a bit late to the party. Thanks for these suggestions. How do you suggest someone get started down these paths as a freelancer? Should they join an agency? Thamls!
Agencies are kind of hit or miss, since some pay terribly and others provide only minimal work. If you find a good one that pays reliably and provides steady work, I would say go for it! However, I think the best way to get started with freelancing is to pitch article ideas to various publications to start building up a portfolio of work.
Check out some of my other articles for tips on where to find gigs and read how I got my start as a freelancer!
Many thanks for the interesting post, it is very useful information for me.