What does it mean to be a writer? Does it mean to simply write often? Yes, and no. Being a writer is definitely about writing often, if not daily; however, being a writer also means being curious about many disciplines, about being a fine researcher, being able to work alone for long periods of time, being a decent editor, and knowing what your target audience wants from you. It is has little to do with wearing black, drinking excessive amounts of coffee, donning a beret, or rebelling against the government.
Another large part of being a writer is being on a constant journey to find work. Even if you land a sweet job as a technical writer at Microsoft, a writer will always be thinking about his or her next project—whether it is for personal or professional use. Many writers look through online searches for “writers wanted” in order to find a job. But how much are writers in demand?
Well, think of it: each company needs content, and they need people to edit that content. Ideally, companies would like to hire someone who can do both, but that is not often the case—so, you can also be hired as an editor. In this respect, each company needs writers and editors, which are two positions writers can work within.
Even a construction company needs writers. They got a website, fliers, handouts, you name it. Promotional materials need to be written and edited. Emails and other documents pertaining to communication also need to be composed and looked over for mistakes—and these companies don’t even specialize in content creation.
When you get to talking about design companies, media companies, news companies, and so on, content is key. They will have large teams of writers and editors, and people to organize those writers—which you can also try to be. Content coordination is a prominent field all its own.
Moving away from companies, there is so much content creation on the Internet, it is insane. 211 million pieces of content is being created every minute on the Internet, and the number is only increasing (Little Jack Marketing). Most of this content is being produced by freelance writers, and people who are casually writing their own stuff. Freelance writers make up a huge proportion of the content being created online, and the ways you can make a living as a freelance writer is endless. It can take only a Google search of “writers wanted” to find a freelance writing site. The most famous freelance writing sites are Upwork, Toptal, Elance, Freelancer, Craigslist, Guru, 99designs, Peopleperhour, Freelance Writing Gigs, and Demand Media (Johansson, Anna). On these sites, you can easily find work within 24 hours, especially if you apply on all these sites simultaneously!
What It Takes
As mentioned before, it takes more than just wearing “writerly” clothes. The first step, I believe, is writing a lot. To learn the art of writing properly, you need to experience it firsthand through many years of practice. I don’t believe in the statement “practice makes perfect” as I do not believe perfection can be obtained. However, “practice makes you a writer” is something I can get behind. Without practice, it is difficult to call yourself a writer. My college writing teacher said, “If you don’t write today, today you are not a writer.” Not only does this mean you need to write daily, but it also means that to be able to recognize yourself as a writer, you need to be firmly connected to the act of writing in order to call yourself a writer.
Though having a writing routine is a major part of being a writer, there a few more things that should be attended to. A writer is also someone who is intensely curious about information and the world at large. You should be an able researcher and data collector. Most of what you will write as a freelancer will involve research and scrolling through endless pages of the Internet.
In addition, a writer is a self-disciplined person. You should know how to write according to word counts and to write with certain requirements in mind. When you will be searching for jobs on the Internet with the key phrase “writers wanted,” you will be looking for work that will be composed under particular limits and specifications. In a way, you can see it as a game. You can see how you can adapt your writing to the requirements of the client.
In terms of education, writers are primarily self-educated in their craft. However, clients and employers might not see it that way. Most hirees are looking for writers with at least a bachelor’s degree in a field related to composition. Having a master’s degree is not mandatory, but it will help you to earn more. If you have a PhD, it might actually be detrimental to your ability to obtain work, as someone people feel intimidated hiring a person with a PhD. However, having a PhD can earn you spots in prestigious writing forums and writing opportunities in general. So, it is a double-edged sword. Most employers are fine with writers who have just a bachelor’s degree and a sufficient amount of work experience.
It is a catch-22, but yes, most employers expect you to have worked previously at other companies or with other clients. So, when you are starting out, it can seem impossible to get into the field. However, if you complete internships in college, write many sample pieces of writing and compile them, and have good marks in school, you can earn a position as a writer within companies and or being a freelance writer with enough determination (and even without fulfilling these requirements). That first step can seem difficult, but when it is finally made, work will be easier to come by.
When you first start searching Google with the phrase “writers wanted,” be aware that many sites are scams, or are simply money pits where you get much less pay than you commonly earn. Sadly, some people enjoy preying on new writers, and people new to the Internet in general. They set up sites that get people’s credit card information, bank information, or other sensitive information, and use this data to steal your identity or to steal money from you.
In order to avoid these pitfalls, it is best to search online about the reputation of specific sites before using them. It is even better to search on several sites that focus on providing scam information about certain websites. This way, you can feel more confident in your assessment.
If you apply for positions within companies, you will have to face much less corruption, but you still have to be wary of fake companies or pyramid schemes. It is important to look up companies as well on such review sites as Glassdoor. Reading through reviews is almost an art, however. Many reviews will be fake and generated by the employer itself. Therefore, it is important to scroll through a few pages of reviews to see if there are zero- and one-star reviews among the ubiquitous 5-star reviews. That is a telltale sign that something is wrong: when you see dozens of 5-star reviews with nothing negative to add. Usually, these reviews have been written by the company itself. Pro tip: marketing companies are notorious for this.
When interviewing for a company for the first time as a writer, try to act as confident as you can in your abilities without sounding egotistic. No one likes an egoist. However, you should not be shy to tell about your writing routine, your accomplishments, your previous work, and so on. If you are garnering a freelance writing assignment for the first time, take one order at a time initially. Concentrate on your first order with your full attention, and give it your all. Do as professional a job as you can. Do your best to impress your client and even do extra work if possible. Basically, make sure they want to hire you again, or that at least they give you a great rating. Your rating matters a lot on freelance writing websites. Also, often written feedback can be seen by potential customers, so making sure you do your best on orders will ensure you will get a constant flow of work.
To become a writer is easy: start writing, and you become one. However, to be able to be hired as a writer by a company or a freelance website is another deal entirely. You need to show discipline, skill, your previous accomplishments, your education, and your adaptability. For those who are first peering through an Internet search result after typing in “writers wanted,” don’t be scared. If you give it your all, and do not compromise on quality, you are for sure going to succeed.
Little Jack Marketing. (2018). 211 Million: This Is How Much Online Content is Created Every Minute – Little Jack Marketing. [online] Available at: https://www.littlejackmarketing.com/industries-trends/this-is-how-much-online-content-is-created-every-minute/ [Accessed 9 Jan. 2018].
Johansson, Anna. “The 15 Best Freelance Websites to Find Jobs.” Entrepreneur, 12 May 2015, www.entrepreneur.com/article/245953.