5 Steps To Becoming a Professional Writer
5 Steps To Becoming a Professional Writer
The importance of skillful writing has most certainly become more apparent nowadays. Well-written blog posts, speeches, advertisements, product copy, TV shows or instruction manuals can be invaluable to businesses. No matter what kind of writing you want to do, there’s a write—excuse me, right way to go about becoming a professional writer.
How To Become a Professional Writer
To start, writing is not for everyone. Just like anything else in the professional world, writing is a skill that has to be worked on and developed over time to really grow into something that can be marketed and turned into a full-time money-making career. There are also many different types of writing out there that need to be approached in different ways. Technical writing, creative writing, script writing, business writing, medical writing, legal writing and copywriting all have slightly different goals and utilize different skillsets/experience. On one hand, it’s exciting to know all the different writing opportunities that are available to you as a freelance writer, but on the other hand it’s important to make sure you’re developing the right writing skills in order to become the writer you hope to be some day.
While deciding what kind of writer you want to be doesn’t have to be done right away, there are some things you can start doing now to help get you on your way to becoming a writer. People commonly take these five steps to earn the title of professional writer:
First, you need to write. Obvious, yes, but it’s more important than you may realize. Before you invest in classes, a degree or anything else, it’s best that you make sure you actually like writing. If you don’t, you’re wasting time and money you could invest in pursuits you actually enjoy. Take out time to write or journal, and ask yourself if you could do this day in and day out for a living. Here are some other writing exercises you can do to gauge your actual level of interest in writing:
- Start a personal blog
- Do some creative writing (short stories)
- Journal (either online or in private)
- Join a writing workshop
- Write letters/emails to friends or family
Whether in public or private, start getting some words on paper. The joy of writing comes in the doing. You’ll quickly realize that good writing takes into account more than just words when you factor in spelling/grammar, flow and outlines, reader intent and tone and style. It’s a form of art to be able to get all to flow together in a way that someone finds value in it – whether that be in the form of entertainment, information, emotion or otherwise.
2. Earn a Degree
To get the most out of your professional writing career, you’ll likely need a degree. So what degree should you get to become a writer? While there is no “one” degree that is a must-have, there are many degrees that will give you a well rounded approach to writing in a professional atmosphere. For instance, an undergraduate degree in communications, English, journalism, technical writing, fine arts, creative writing or professional writing is sure to open more doors and offer you more opportunities than not having a degree related to writing. Also, your school might offer job placement to help you get started or writing resources you can put to good use. You might look for internships or online content writing companies that will allow an unseasoned writer to start gaining experience while working through a degree.
In many cases, developing your writing through internships and freelance writing can open doors to you all you to be a writer even without a degree. Being a writer without a degree has its benefits in that you can start working right away, but your earning potential may also be limited depending on the niche of writing you are pursuing.
3. Build Your Portfolio
Any school writing projects you complete or work you have published should be added to your professional portfolio. Your portfolio shows potential employers the kind of work and results you produce, and it could be just the thing they need to make a decision regarding hiring you. If possible, add a variety of content to your portfolio to show that you’re a well-rounded, experienced writer.
Some other ideas of how you can add “published” content to your writing portfolio include:
- A personal, online blog
- Guest posts on online publications
- Product copy on an Etsy site
- A press release on a free PR platform
The internet is your best friend when it comes to developing your writing portfolio to help you become a professional writer. Expand your network and try to get blogs/articles on other people’s sites. Usually if you pitch them on providing the content for free in exchange for a byline with your name and a link back to your website, you can get author credit to help boost that portfolio.
4. Decide What Kind of Professional Writer You Want To Be
One of the absolute best things about being a professional writer is that there are so many avenues to explore. It’s a good idea to seek out as many of those avenues as possible to see what’s out there. Doing so will help you decide if there’s a specific area of writing in which you’d like to specialize. For instance, do you have a knack for composing marketing or advertising material? Do you feel that you’re better suited to technical writing? Or maybe you like writing essays, product descriptions and articles for magazines and online sites. Decide on your focus area, and always remember that there’s likely a few writing stones you have yet to upturn, so always be on the lookout for new opportunities. Here are few more professional writing opportunities you might explore:
- Medical Writer
- Legal Writer
- Technical Writer
- Proposal Writer
- Business Blog Writer
- Video Script Writer
- Grant Writer
- Content Writer
- Freelance Writer
- Resume Writer
- TV Writer
This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, but I think you’ll start to get the point. There’s always a need for good writing! Try your hand at a few different types of writing to start narrowing down your strengths and preferences of writing.
5. Look for Work
There are plenty of online resources available for finding work, and knowing the type of writer you want to be helps you know which resources to use and how to use them. If there’s a magazine you’d like to contribute to, check its website to see if they accept work from freelance writers. Explore job boards to see if you’re interested in any companies that might be in need of a writer of your caliber and with your expertise. If you’re looking from jobs where you can write from home, you can even apply to be a writer here with us at BKA Content.
You Can Learn How to Become a Writer!
While there’s a lot of hard work involved with becoming a professional writer, it’s most certainly worth it in the end. The key is to not skip the developmental steps. Your writing will become better the more you practice it, and your writing portfolio will get more robust over time if you keep at it. If you have any additional tips or steps to becoming a writer you’d like to share, leave them in the comments below!