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How to Write for a Living

Working from home gives writers freedom and flexibility...but does it earn a living? Working from home gives writers freedom and flexibility...but does it earn a living?

If you are a half-hearted writer looking to make a quick buck, I’d suggest waiting tables instead. A career in writing may not be the path for you. On the other hand, if you are a dedicated, persistent, and passionate writer – read on. You have the potential to earn a great living doing what you love. Many writers stumble a bit getting started, but with these practical tips, you can easily learn how to write for a living.

A common trend among “newbie” writers is to do tons of research and read as much as you can on how to start your careers. While this is definitely a worthwhile pursuit, be careful it’s not your only pursuit. Studying the ins and outs of freelance writing is well and good, but there has to be a point when you take a deep breath and jump into the writing pool. It’s a competitive business, and there’s always going to be someone trying to push you out of the way. If you keep your nose buried in books, you’ll be leagues behind everyone plunging on ahead. You can’t sell what you haven’t written, so open up your laptop and get started.

1. Write every day. You’ll hear countless authors giving you the same advice. Successful writers make it a point to write every day, whether they feel like it or not. The discipline of daily writing not only keeps you sharp and focused; it provides you with plenty of material for your portfolio.


2. Determine your area of specialty, and become an expert. Having a “niche” in the writing world will garner you more jobs, and give you an edge over the competition. Read – and write – as much as you can on your topic of expertise.


3. Learn how to write for different niches. We’re not talking subject matter here – this is referring to different ways to write. The way a journalist writes is different from a web content writer, just as a novelist writes differently than a copywriter. Each method has its own language - so to be successful, you should learn to “speak” each one.

4. Read, and then read some more. Writers read almost as much as we write. Read magazines, blogs, newsletters, novels, how-to books, advertisements, speeches – read everything you have time for. It gives you ideas, inspiration, and new lines of thought. Reading also helps you pick up different writing techniques and styles – excellent tools to expand your career.

5. Branch out. Having a speciality is important, but you should also be able to write about other topics – and in other styles, as well. Successful freelance writers learn how to do good research, so they can competently cover any subject assigned to them. You may need to write about circuses one day and cancer the next. One client may ask for a blog entry, while another wants you to come up with ad copy. The more diversified you are, the more often you’ll get hired.

6. Write for the web. Content writers are needed on a daily – perhaps hourly – basis. Our society today is based on clicks and page hits, so millions of businesses need SEO (search engine optimized) content for their websites. If you’re unfamiliar with writing for the internet, get “SEO for dummies,” or another tool to help you learn the nuances of keyword placement.

7. Search for work every day. Whether it’s querying a magazine with an article idea, sending out resumes to potential clients, applying for jobs posted on freelance websites (freelancewritinggigs.com is a great one) – search for work every day. Writers need continual work. You should have short- and long-term projects going at all times. If you aren’t actively looking for new clients, you’re giving up income.

Writing for a living may not earn you tons of money right away. It takes time to develop your portfolio, get published, and type your way to the top. So be patient, and don’t give up. Write honestly, concisely, and clearly. Continually work to improve your techniques, either by reading books or taking courses. Polish your writing skills, and edit your work like a professional. Editors and publishers appreciate well-written material that takes little time to proofread, so go over your work with a fine-tooth comb. It will take time and effort, but dedicated and passionate writers can definitely earn a living by doing what they love.

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Advice for aspiring writers from Stephen King
Last modified on Thursday, 20 September 2012 15:38

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