Creative writing jobs aren’t just for the John Grishams and Danielle Steels of the world. If you love wordsmithing and enjoy developing an idea, you can earn money from anywhere — even if you’ve never been paid for writing before.
It sounds like a pipe dream, but thousands of writers do it every day. All you need are the right resources and an understanding of where you shine.
Maybe you create snappy dialogue that’s ideal for video games. Or maybe you’re a poet, and your verse is just right for the greeting card companies. Your perfect writing match is out there, and this article will help you find it.
What Is Creative Writing?
Creative writing invents and develops scenarios, conversations, characters, and even worlds. Fiction is creative writing. So are essays, stage plays, film scripts, and poems.
People talk about how difficult to make a living as a creative writer, and there is some truth to that reputation. Only a fraction of the aspiring novelists out there will ever make the New York Times bestseller list, and not everyone can become a poet laureate.
But thinking of those as the only creative writing jobs is like thinking of President of the United States as the only job in politics. There are countless opportunities for inventive and resourceful writers.
Types of Creative Writing Jobs
Think of what you like best about creative writing. Are you drawn to fiction or nonfiction? Maybe you love movies and want to write the kind of memorable dialogue that people quote.
Whatever it is, there’s a way to make it pay.
Ghostwriting can be the perfect career for people who love writing but prefer to stay out of the spotlight. A ghostwriter takes someone’s idea and develops it into a complete work, then hands it over for the client to publish under their name.
Some clients give their ghostwriters detailed outlines and notes, and the writer fleshes it all out. In other cases, the writer only gets the germ of an idea and free rein to create the final product.
Reedsy, which connects clients with ghostwriters and freelancers, reports that ghostwriters can bring in upwards of $70,000 per project.
Types of Ghostwriting Opportunities
Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, there are ghostwriting gigs out there for you. In the nonfiction world, celebrities and public figures hire ghostwriters to create their memoirs. Business moguls work with ghosts on how-to’s, like The Art of the Deal or 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (both ghostwritten).
If fiction is more your style, you’re in luck. Fiction ghostwriting is becoming increasingly popular, now that aspiring authors can easily put out calls for writers online.
How to Find Work
If you have writing experience, you can connect with authors through an agency or ghostwriting service. Gotham Ghostwriters is one service that welcomes inquiries.
Networking is also important for ghostwriters, since many professionals and authors will work with a writer they know. Talk to people in your field and find out who might be interested in publishing a book. Don’t be afraid to start small — downloadable e-books can do very well.
These early projects make great samples for bigger clients. And if you don’t have opportunities to ghostwrite just yet, don’t worry. Self-publishing on Amazon or a similar platform can get you some experience under your belt, especially if you can marke tit well.
That said, you don’t have to write books to be a ghostwriter. Many professionals and companies publish articles and blog posts under their own names, while using the services of a professional freelancer. You can find many of these opportunities on freelance job sites like MediaBistro and FreelanceWritingGigs.com.
Video Game Writing
Game writing can be a dream career for writers who love character, dialogue, and story-based gaming. Dozens of new role-playing games come out every month, and each one includes dialogue that a writer has to craft.
Successful video game writers need a solid grasp of fiction writing and a familiarity with the structure of video games. If you haven’t already, spend some time playing popular role-playing games like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy to get a sense of style.
Meanwhile, work on developing your writing portfolio. Getting flash fiction published is a great way to show developers that you can craft tight, engaging material.
Having playable content is important, too. You can create story-based games with no coding experience Twine, an open-source game development software. Having an interactive story on Twine is a great way to show off your chops to developers.
Once you’re ready, you can start searching for game writing jobs. Some get posted on general job sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, but there are many more hiding in the brains of developers. In the video game world, networking is everything.
Video content is everywhere, and it’s only becoming more popular. In 2019, people sent an average of 6 hours and 48 minutes a week watching online video. By 2021, that number had jumped to 16 hours a week.
Those videos span every topic you could possibly imagine. A recent Indeed search turned up script writer job postings for:
- Video courses
- YouTube series
- Educational content
- Comic videos
- Product and service explainer videos
Writers contribute to offline and corporate videos as well. Organizations hire freelance and remote writers to create training materials, PR videos, and much more. These videos take multiple formats, from single speaker “talking head” videos to role-played workplace scenarios.
Or maybe film and TV writing is more your style. This aspect of script writing can be harder to break into, but it is possible.
If you have a script already, consider submitting it to a screenwriting contest like the Austin Screenwriting Competition or the Nicholl Fellowship. Also, keep an eye on gig boards like Screenwriting Staffing or ISA Writing Gigs.
Greeting Card Writing
Think about the last time you stood in front of a greeting card rack at the grocery store or pharmacy. Every one of those cards, from the tongue-in-cheek to the profoundly emotional, has a writer behind it.
And those are just the beginning. Beyond Hallmark and Carlton Cards, there are dozens of companies producing and marketing “cards” for the digital market.
Many of these smaller companies — and some less small — accept submissions for card verse. Examples include:
- Viabella, which pays $50 to $100 per accepted verse
- Oatmeal Studios, which pays $100 per idea
- Blue Mountain Arts, which pays $300 according to an outside source
- NobleWorks, which offers guidelines upon request
This is just a sampling of what’s out there. You can find many more just by Googling “greeting card verse submissions,” or you can search for publishers using the Greeting Card Association directory.
If you have a solid grasp of your craft and enjoy helping other creatives, you can make a respectable living as an editor. According to Salary.com, the average editor earns between $61,529 and $80,800 a year. It’s a great way to use your skills while contributing to the broader writing community.
Types of Editing Jobs
There are many different types of editing work out there. For example:
- Copy editors focus on mechanics such as grammar, spelling, and usage
- Line editors look at flow, style, and sentence structure to improve the material’s effectiveness
- Developmental editors work with books and other long-form content, making broader recommendations
- Proofreaders go over a piece immediately before publication, looking for errors and typos
Finding Editing Work
Most editors start their careers with copy editing and proofreading on smaller jobs like articles and blogs. These projects give you experience and a portfolio you can use to apply for bigger projects or in-house jobs.
Don’t worry about choosing a niche right away. Take a variety of jobs that seem interesting and see what kind of editing makes the most sense to you.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out this list of companies that hire remote editors. Opportunities range from academic editing for scholarly works to news editing for an entertainment website.
More interested in fiction and poetry? Check out some of your favorite literary journals. Poets and Writers magazine also occasionally lists open editing jobs.
How to Find Entry Level Creative Writing Jobs
Creative writing can feel like a difficult field if you lack experience. Job boards often mention required experience and potential clients want to see what you’ve done before.
The best way to overcome this hurdle is to start with one-time gigs for smaller clients. You’ll find many opportunities on the big freelance marketplace sites, including Upwork and Freelancer.
Upwork is full of calls for creative writers of all types and skill levels. At any given time, you’ll find requests for all the types of writers listed in this article, from romance ghostwriting to copyediting.
You need a profile to apply on Upwork, and the platform doesn’t accept everyone. Invest some time in crafting a quality profile that mentions the different kinds of writing you do.
Once Upwork accepts your profile, you can start bidding on creative writing jobs. You might have to take some lower-paying gigs at first, but Upwork is a great place to build experience and work your way up.
Upwork also has a great feature called the Project Catalog, where you can offer specific types of work with defined parameters. You can post up to 20 projects at a time, and potential clients can search for those projects and hire you directly.
The Project Catalog is particularly useful if you have a specific writing goal in mind. For example, these video game writers offer projects like custom narratives, world building, and unique characters.
Freelancer.com works much like Upwork, only on a smaller scale. There, you’ll find calls for creative writers and editors of all kinds. The search function is less refined than Upwork, so you might have to wade through some irrelevant postings before you see the type of work you want.
Freelancer also lets you create and post a profile that clients can search. You can set your own rates and specify the types of projects you’re willing to do. Don’t skip this step, but if you’re looking to get experience fast, actively bidding will be the way to go.
As a creative writer, you’ll demonstrate your skills most effectively by publishing your own work. This won’t make up much of your income at first, but it will give you some street cred for applications with paying clients.
Poets and Writers has an extensive database of literary magazines, writing contests, and more. You can search by genre and view the submission details for hundreds of publications.
Duotrope is another comprehensive resource. You have to pay for a subscription, but in return you get regular updates of new markets and valuable resources like an interactive deadline calendar and submission tracker.
You can also find creative writing markets on certain freelance writing job boards. All Freelance Writing and Writers Weekly both let you search for poetry and fiction listings, as well as calls for non-fiction in a variety of genres.
Online Creative Writing Courses
Making it as a writer means constantly developing your craft. Whether you’re new to creative writing, returning after time away, or just looking to reach the next level, the right course can help you write better and land more clients.
Gotham Writers has taught creative writing and business writing for nearly 30 years. It’s based in New York but offers a range of online classes as well. Topics include creative nonfiction, creative writing 101, and fiction writing. You can attend class in real time on Zoom or access course material at your convenience.
The Writers Studio
Founded in 1987, the Writers Studio also offers in-person and online learning. Classes are available in fiction, poetry, and memoir. Some are leveled, meaning that you have to complete one level of study before taking the next course in the sequence. Others are open to any student who wants to learn.
Masterclass offers online workshops and classes taught by experts in their field. Their writing teachers include Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Joyce Carol Oates, and more. Content is accessible by subscription for $15 a month.
Udemy is one of the most popular online learning platforms today. They have creative writing courses for all levels, from the newest beginner to the published author. You can study creative writing in general or focus in on special skills like game writing or scripting.
Coursera brings you creative writing courses from colleges, universities, continuing education organizations, and more. There’s also a five-course creative writing specialization that finishes with a capstone project, where you create an original eight- to 15-page work and get feedback from peer readers.
With this list of resources, you can launch your creative writing career in almost any direction. Start by choosing the type of writing you want to start with and how you want to get things moving. Do you want to take a class, apply to a gig, or sign on with an agency? Use the sections above to direct your efforts.
Then get out there and pound the digital pavement. The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll land your first job and start living the dream — earning money through creative writing jobs.
Musings and updates from the content management team at Clippings.me.