According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 131,000 people employed as writers or authors in the United States, with the market expected to grow about 8% by 2026. That’s a lot of people making a living writing, and that doesn’t account for all of the workers with alternate job titles like ‘technical writer’ or ‘reporter.’
If you’re hoping to make writing your career, though, it can be daunting to know where to start. To help you take the first step, we’ve put together this list of 19 great jobs for writers and some guidance on what you need to get them.
Blogging has become commonplace, with an estimated 500 million blogs in existence as of 2019. They’re no longer limited to hobbies and journal-style entries; companies have embraced blogging as a valuable way to engage customers and capture search engine traffic. To become a blog writer, you’ll need to be able to produce easy to read, search-engine-friendly posts on niche topics. Blog writers are often freelance, though larger companies may have full-time blog writers on staff.
Whereas a blog is updated frequently, articles on a website are static and are only updated on an infrequent basis, if ever. To become an article writer, you’ll need to be able to independently research a variety of topics and create original content from third-party sources. To help you land an article writing job, focus on building a portfolio of technical writing samples.
From Hollywood blockbusters to indie flicks, there’s a screenwriter behind all of them. To make it as a screenwriter, you’ll need a knack for storytelling and the ability to use your writing to weave a strong narrative arc. You’ll also need persistence, as screenwriting can be one of the most competitive fields of writing. To get started, familiarize yourself with the standard screenwriting format and make it a point to work on your script every day.
It’s a journalist’s job to gather and report facts from an objective perspective. If you have an interest in current events and a strong attention to detail, this might be the right job for you. If you’re interested in a career as a journalist, hone your skills by writing practice pieces on a subject that interests you. Learn more about building a journalism portfolio here.
As a speechwriter, it’s your job to craft words that jump off the page and make an impact when spoken out loud. To succeed at writing speeches, you’ll be required to take complex ideas and distill them down into easily digestible, sound-bite-worthy lines. To land a job as a speechwriter, build your portfolio by practicing writing sample speeches using topic prompts like these ones from Toastmasters International.
Many people think they’d make a great author, but few succeed. Above all else, success as an author comes down to sitting down, doing the work and actually finishing a draft of your novel. If you want to start small before diving into a full-length book, try your hand at short stories first (which will make great clips for your creative writing portfolio).
Writing and editing are two sides of the same coin. An editor helps plan, revise and strengthen material a writer has drafted with the goal of making it as appealing as possible to the intended audience. To be a good editor, you need an impeccable eye for grammar, punctuation and spelling as well as an intuitive sense of not only the writing, but the headlines, artwork and layout that will resonate best with readers.
If you’re a versatile writer who likes to flex your creative muscle, a job as a content manager might be a fit for you. A content manager strategizes and executes different types of content for digital entities. To build a content manager portfolio that will help you get hired, a great place to start is with your own website or blog. You can also pick up freelance gigs planning content for small businesses to help build experience.
Social Media Manager
A social media manager must not only be a strong writer who can craft compelling posts quickly, but must be well-versed in the norms of major social media platforms. If you’re interested in this job, consider going to school for public relations or communications. Some colleges even offer specialized programs focusing on social media.
While ad copy is usually short, in many ways that’s the very reason it’s more difficult to write than other materials. A great ad copywriter is skilled at keeping things short and sweet–but most importantly, memorable. We lay out several ideas to start building your copywriting portfolio here.
Poetry isn’t dead. If you’re okay with piecing together an income by doing a few different jobs like teaching or proofreading in addition to writing poetry, it can be a feasible career. Start by submitting your poems to literary publications and poetry competitions, which are a good place to get your foot in the door.
As a ghostwriter, it’s your job to take someone else’s ideas and help put them into words their audience will want to read. Being a strong interviewer will take you far in this role, as will being able to write in the voice of another person. Here are some ideas for what to ghostwrite first when you’re just starting out.
Many writers also teach. Teaching English or a related subject is a great way to earn a steady paycheck while keeping your skills sharp, and the hours are such that you can make time for working on other writing projects outside of when school’s in session. You’ll need a minimum of a bachelor’s degree to gain employment as a teacher at a public school in the U.S.
If you’re a strong writer who’s also fluent in multiple languages, you can make a highly lucrative career out of translating. Translators are in demand by governments, nonprofits and companies who do business internationally. If you’re interested in this role, look into getting certified by the American Translator’s Association, then build your portfolio by translating different materials from one language to another.
Did you know there’s an entire job market of people who strictly focus on writing grant applications? It’s a nuanced form of writing, and if you get good at it you can make it your profession. To get your feet wet with the process of writing grant applications, try volunteering at a nonprofit that regularly seeks out funding from grants. They’ll be grateful for the help, and you’ll learn what goes into a successful application.
As with grant writing, there’s a big market with a major need for writers that can create winning proposals. To succeed as a proposal writer, you’ll need to be analytical, precise and organized.
One good way to build a proposal writing portfolio is by lending a hand to small businesses who need help pitching clients.
You don’t have to be a singer or musician to parlay your writing skills into the music industry. A lyricist not only writes songs, but works with songwriters to arrange the words in a way that fits the melody. Lyric writing can be competitive and often comes down to who you know, so it’s helpful to network regularly with others in the music business to help you land your first gig.
Attention spans are short. It’s up to web copywriters to draft clear, attention-grabbing copy that will draw visitors into a website and keep them there. To be a successful web copywriter, you’ll need to be able to adapt your voice and tone to the organization you’re writing for. Get started by approaching small businesses in your community who may be willing to let you update their website copy in exchange for a sample in your portfolio.
Publishers do a lot of different things, but their core job duty is to source and attract manuscripts that will achieve commercial success. Being well-read is a given; you’ll also need the eye of an editor and the mind of a marketer. Having a bachelor’s degree is a plus, but most publishing houses value experience more than degrees on your resume.
Once you’ve identified a few writing jobs you’re interested in, use Clippings.me to build your free writing portfolio to showcase your work. Sign up and get started in minutes here.
Musings and updates from the content management team at Clippings.me.