The starving artist is a concept most of us know all too well. Everyone wants to be a writer, so the competition to get work or to get published is often stiff. Often, if you do manage to get a writing job, the pay is quite low. After all, everyone’s a writer. If you don’t want to write for less than minimum, someone else will come along who does.
But you don’t have to write for free or for pennies. There are ways to defeat the stereotype. Here are a five tips to find the writing gigs that pay.
Study the Market
There are a wide variety of writing opportunities available, from magazine writing to copywriting to ghostwriting to blog writing. Anywhere you see words strung together, a writer was given a job. The sides of cereal boxes were written by someone who was paid to write.
Understand what the specific market is for the kind of writing you want to do, and learn what the requirements are for breaking into that market. Where do you need to pitch your work? How should you be trying to sell your work? The qualifications for getting magazine work are not the same as those for writing copy. When you know where to look for the right kind of work and the prerequisites for getting it, you increase your chances of success.
Write for the Web
No matter what kind of writing you do, there are opportunities to get published and paid online. Even if it’s your dream to write the next Great American Novel, you can make some money and keep your lights on in the meantime by writing informative articles for web sites. Look at article directories (here is a list of the top 21 best article directories), browse opportunities at freelance sites like oDesk, Elance, Freelance Job Openings or Journalism Jobs, and search the classifieds on job sites like Craig’s List or CareerBuilder (under the Media-Journalism-Newspaper category) for writing jobs. Subscribe to C. Hope Clark’s newsletter, Funds for Writers, which will deliver freelance job opportunities in a variety of genres to your inbox. Of course, not every job will pay well (especially on Craig’s List, where you will see lots of writing jobs touting “exposure” or “experience” as compensation. Avoid these.) Be persistent, and you’ll find well-paying jobs over time. Funds for Writers offers the highest paying opportunities, and is well worth the subscription price. If you’re just starting out and not ready to make the investment in your writing career, Hope also offers free newsletters.
Write in Different Genres
If your heart is set on writing fiction and you can’t stand the idea of writing for the web or any other commercial venue, then try diversifying by writing in other genres. Maybe you can’t sell your novel — or it’s taking you so long to finish your novel you need to start looking for other paying work in the meantime — but you can finish and sell short stories or even flash fiction.
Short stories, essays, poems, songs and other genres all have their own markets. If you’re not succeeding in the genre of your choice, try branching out and writing something for another genre and you may find success there.
Amazon, Smashwords, and Lulu have all made publishing a reality for any author who chooses to take advantage of these marketplaces. If you can’t sell your novel to a traditional publisher, then you can try selling it yourself. A few authors have found success through self-publishing. Paranormal writer Amanda Hockingwas rejected from dozens of publishers before she started selling her novels on Amazon, and she has now sold more than a million copies — joining the ranks of only a handful of other authors who have sold as many copies. A note of caution: self-publishing is not something to take on quickly or lightly. Before you commit, do your research.
Start Your Own Blog
You don’t need to blog for money to use it to find success. Many writers have blogs so they can promote their work. Hosting a blog is especially helpful if you’re self-publishing. Share excerpts, talk about your process as a writer or share your thoughts about creativity. Think of your blog as an online calling card for prospective agents, editors and readers.
What other ways have you found to be successful as a paid writer? Share your tips for how you’ve found jobs and kept your income steady while continuing on your path to publishing success.
About the author:
Sarah Rexman is the main researcher and writer for BedBugs.org. Her most recent accomplishment includes graduating from Florida State with a master’s degree in environmental science. Her main focus for the site involves new methods to prevent bed bugs as well as bed bugs eradication.