In the second and concluding part of the series on writing careers, Booksoarus brings to you both an insightful and illustrative list of writing options.
It’s hell writing. It’s hell not writing. The only tolerable state is just having written.
– Robert Hass (Poet and Essayist)
How you can take up writing as a career
About 8 years ago, I was talking to an elderly gentleman, a Harry Potter fan, about the (then) new Harry Potter movie: Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire. I had just seen the movie and I spoke to him at length about how the movie will not appeal as much to those who have not read the books.
“You must review the movie,” he said, “You have some interesting ideas.”
“Honestly, I don’t have any experience in reviewing movies,” I said.
“You do have experience in honesty, don’t you?” he asked and I was floored.
Just write honestly and send it out and see where it goes. Some stellar advice there.
So, I did. I sent it to Rediff.com. They liked it. They published it. You can read it here:
At that point, I got multiple emails to be a freelance movie reviewer from a few reputed newspapers and portals. For reasons that make me want to kick myself, I did not take up any of that up despite nursing writer-ly ambitions. The point is you will find and encounter multiple opportunities to pursue (full-time or part-time) corporate or freelance writing careers and persistence always pays.
Writing Careers: What it takes to be a writer
Those who consider themselves serious writers will tell you that writing is a banal addiction. You write because you have to, because you want to be heard and mostly because you have something to say.
Of course, to be successful (acceptance, recognition, appreciation – in that order) as a writer you have to be a wordsmith. Nobody can help you find the right words and the right tone. Nobody can manufacture imagination for you. Nobody can ideate on your behalf.
Writing Career options
Here is a compilation of various possible writing careers – an illustrative list of options available today for writers. Depending on the type of enterprise (web, print etc), many of these are full-time positions.
1. Social Media Marketer
Yes, you update Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for clients but it is not all fun and games. You need to be creative on demand. Additionally, you may need to interact with customers in real-time across various web-platforms. A Podcaster too is fast becoming a full-time requirement. This includes creating and developing audio and video content for internet publication.
An extension of the social media marketer, a blogger is one who expresses his or her personal opinion (or company opinion if you have been commissioned as a blogger by a corporate entity) on topics that you choose. These are great ways of expression. The popularity of a blog depends on online networking – how many blogs you read, comment on, how many blogs you follow, how many fellow-bloggers follow your writing. You need tremendous discipline and innovative engagement if you want to start making money out of your blog. Ad revenue will flow in only when you can demonstrate substantial audience engagement and number of hits.
3. Corporate Communications
All companies from the giants of the Telecom world to Management Consultants send out both internal and external messages. Your work would involve creating and designing these. These could be presentations, newsletters, mailers, teasers – for product launches, new initiatives within the company, contests, promoting company achievements, showcasing milestones, conferences, awards nights, brand promotion etc.
A reviewer has a very strong, persuasive opinion and a confident voice that sounds like a verdict.
So, you have an opinion on the iPhone 4 and why the Nexus 4 is better? Gadget and gizmo reviewers are in demand as user experiences are much sought after. The same holds good for books or movies or even automobiles.
Like a blogger, a reviewer of things requires substantial online networking. Some companies pay for reviews and you could send your work to them. If you are being unflattering about their product or service it is unlikely that they will take you on!
5. Feature Writer for Lifestyle Portals or Magazines
This involves writing articles on fashion and lifestyle trends for various web portals or lifestyle magazines. The topics will normally be given to you.
6. Technical Writer
This is typically instructional writing including compilation of industry-specific information to help business and consumer audiences. Industries may include: Legal, Hospitality, Management, Healthcare, Technology, Engineering, Government, Publishing, Media etc.
7. Subject Matter Expert
Create content for subjects (Example: Mathematics, General Science and Physics). A technical writer is not a subject matter expert. The audience is different. The writings of Subject matter Experts are mainly for use of student communities or for the reference of connoisseurs in a particular subject.
8. Food Writers
All you busy home cooks – rejoice.. What interests you about food? The exotic recipe? The cooking process? The aroma? The flavours? Whatever be your colour of the rainbow, food writing aims at providing the reader an experience. From carefully crafted recipe collections to meticulously researched food history, food writing is here to stay. You could tie-up with small and medium enterprises who manufacture packaged food or purees and pastes. You could experiment with their products and show case your final recipe on a webpage – their product your recipe. Free advertising for them. They won’t mind paying you.
9. Copy Writer
So you have a wicked imagination, a way with words and an ability to look at things and see beyond the mundane? Great. You could make it in advertising. This would involve creating punch lines, print ads, online banner ads etc.
What an editor does requires an entire article in itself. But, briefly an editor works towards optimizing creative outputs of the author efficiently and works towards an error-free publication.
This profession is self-explanatory. You could use your English language skills to teach the language or engage in story-telling and story-writing activities.
12. Product Literature
This involves writing rich product description, user instructions and warning of potential product hazards. For instance, a dedicated writing resource would be in charge of writing instruction labels on bouncy lithium-ion battery-operated mini toy castles. Labelling is important because failure-to-warn liabilities in litigious markets can lead to major losses for companies.
13. Travel Writer
Hmmm…Travelogues, don’t we love them? Exploring new places on foot or bus or bullock-carts, taking in local sights and smells and sounds and writing about it. Many travel firms commission travel writers to take a trip to a pre-decided place.
14. Writing for an NGO
For the inexperienced writer, this is a great way to gain experience. Volunteer. NGOs are in constant need of people to write their funder pitches, document the good work that they do, report on the social events and campaigns they organize. This helps get their paperwork in order and you gain writing experience that you can add on to your resume.
15. Writing for television, radio and films
The audio and visual medium is a vast and varied ocean. This requires special skill-sets including a specific qualifications. We will have to take this up some other time. And, we will.
I wrap up the list with a personal favorite. Write that book. Finish it. Edit, edit, edit. Need some inspiration. Look here – How to complete writing your book
Skills required for Writing Careers
Absolute Must: Incisive Ideas, Creative Thinking, Exceptional prose and Vocabulary, Absolute passion and of course knowledge of using a good word processor.
Good to have: Familiarity with internet marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or web development, HTML, Graphic Editing software’s like Photoshop, Flash
If you aim to be a freelance or part-time writer, remember that it takes time for acceptance, appreciation and recognition. It involves a high gestation period. You need patience.
Salary ranges for Writing Careers
- For freelance and part-time work: Normally this is paid on a per-piece basis and ranges from INR 200 to INR 2000
- For full-time positions: INR 200,000 to INR 600,00 per annum for entry and mid-levels & INR 800,000 per annum upwards for mid to senior levels depending on expertise and experience
Do you want to add to the list? Please post them in the comments below