Writing as a job and a career - the common myths and the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

Assured Angel By Assured Angel, 13th Jun 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

Writing is a great way to channel your feelings and get your creative juices flowing. It is also a good way to earn a living. However, those that believe it is the easy route to fame and untold riches soon become mired and caught up the literary jungle that is writers' block, poorly paid writing gigs and frustration. So it is about time that some of the myths and half-truths about this choice of career path are laid out there and confronted...

Writing as a career: clearing up the writers' (truth) block

In the news, there are rumblings of a recovery. This will come as a relief to those who have been tightly holding onto their pursestrings and holding out for better employment and greater prospects. During this time, businesses have been hit hard from some of the larger conglomerates to the self-employed who have been starting out. It is the latter which have suffered to a greater extent, and none more so than in the area of freelance writing. One of the key reasons for this is that when companies are hit with a recession, the first instinct is to streamline. That means services that are considered less essential are hit with the deepest cuts. So contractors, temporary staff, freelance staff even the sales and marketing staff are usually the first to feel the heat.

Getting writing work is not hard. Getting decently paid writing work is another matter altogether. If you are thinking that writing is an easier route to making money without having to put in the work, then you are in for a shock. As someone who has only in the last 18 months decided to pursue it (part-time), I have learned some lessons and some of them have been very tough. This is not designed to put you off if you want to go for it, because it is one of the most rewarding decisions that I have made in pursuit of my dream. It is to help you to make an informed decision if you decide to go down this route.

If you have the passion, drive and talent to be the next James Patterson or Agatha Christie, then the next decision you have to make is whether you want to write full time or part time. Writing involves a lot of time, effort, inconvenience and--yes--money. Depending on what you want to write, then there is an investment that has to be made. So here are some myths that need busting and some truths that need telling about this area.

Myth 1 - Writing will lead to untold riches
Well this is not really a myth, it is a possibility. But it is not going to happen straightaway. Many successful writers faced rejection after rejection before catching their big literary break. These works equate to hours, days, weeks, months--even years--spent researching: their characters, their plots, their titles. And then comes the actual writing, rewriting, editing, proofreading before they consider sending it off. In terms of writing articles (as opposed to novels or non-fiction books), this is also the case. Many writers start off right at the bottom of the rung writing for $1.50 per article (or per hour, depending on where you pitch your skillset). Now even if you do 15 articles a week, that is still only $75 and that is enough to cover maybe your grocery shopping and not much else. You may choose to write for some sites and get paid a certain sum per month. This could be a fixed fee or a fixed fee plus ad revenue; or purely ad ( or, alternately, page view) revenue so think about this. It may not be long before you graduate to more lucrative work, but be prepared for this. If you have a job, remember to take on what you can manage and I would advise that you stay there until you begin to make enough from writing to pay your bills and have some left over.

Myth 2 - Writing is easy work
This is a HUGE mistake to make when considering this as a career. Writing is not easy, even for the most gifted, talented and determined writer. Think hours spent doing research, laying the foundation for what you want to write. Then there is the writing itself, and the proofreading and the editing. If you have to produce a certain number of articles a day, this can take its toll. Long nights, heavy days spent on your computer tapping on those keys producing the content and going over it. At one stage I was experiencing serious burnout and something had to give. So make sure you have balance and discipline when undertaking writing work whether it is a 200-word article or a 20,000-word academic essay.

Myth 3 - You cannot put writing on your resume as it does not look serious enough
Depending on the job you are going for, having a background or some skill in writing would be seen as a huge advantage. Not only would it show that you are able to communicate using the written word, but it can demonstrate certain skills and abilities. These include researching skills, editing and proofreading skills; a methodical approach to work and a decent work ethic. They also show that you can be proactive because when you write, you sometimes have to find what you want to write about and then work on it. On some of my resumes, I have my writing work/business on there and sometimes I do not. Not all positions or companies will appreciate your writing capabilities and some will welcome it. If you have been published as a writer, and writing is an important part of a position you are seeking, it is a very good indicator that others have found merit in your skill, as well.

Another key area when dealing with writing is when it comes to setting rates. This can be a tricky area and something of a dilemma. If you put prices too low, then no matter how much you write, you may not make enough money and it can be difficult to raise those prices. On the other hand, if you set them too high, there is a risk that potential clients may be put off. It is true that businesses are looking to get the best quality of service and product at the best price. There is a difference between what the best price is for the writer and what the best price is for the client! There are two ways to charge clients - by the hour or a flat fee depending on the project. When calculating your fees, consider your overheads and business costs that the fee has to cover and then go from there. When you take all of these expenses from the fee that is paid, what does that leave you? Using that as a base, then you cannot go far wrong.

I hope that this helps you all out there and all the best with your writing career.

Tags

Freelance Writing, Writers, Writing, Writing Articles, Writing For Money, Writing For Pay

Meet the author

author avatar Assured Angel
Talented and experienced freelance writer/ businesswoman with a legal background whose engaging, confident but professional attitude is reflected in her writing.
I have also written extensively (over 100 articles) and continue to do soon many subj...(more)

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Comments

author avatar Anuradha
14th Jun 2010 (#)

Very true, many believe that writing an article is very easy. As you said, it requires a lot of research.

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author avatar Assured Angel
14th Jun 2010 (#)

Thank you so much. It is so true and the sooner people realise this the better.

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author avatar Retired
22nd Dec 2010 (#)

I do freelance writing, and I can do up to 5 articles a day, depending on the amount of research needed for a 350 word article. There are several ways to earn from writing online. Most require a writing sample, resume, and for you to place bids. Fortunately, I found 2 companies that do not do that.
On the average, you will get paid $0.01 per word.

I have spent a day doing an article, and there are those I have written in 20 minutes.

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