Some people claim that technology is destroying the role of the writer in modern society. However, as technology evolves and online writing becomes more prominent, many versatile careers in writing continue to surface. The role of writing is no longer confined to pen and paper; careers in writing now range from authoring books to creating blogs. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that there were over 123,000 jobs for U.S. writers and authors in 2018.
Writers can work for a variety of industries and present their written words through a variety of mediums. They can take their careers in several directions and work from virtually any location as freelance writers. They enjoy a diversity of work, as they can produce content for websites by working as content writers or write grant proposals for nonprofit organizations as grant writers. Some work as technical writers, assembling informative documents describing companies’ products or services, while others enjoy taking their careers on the road, writing as they travel from one location to the next.
As the number of versatile writing careers continues to grow, prospective and current writers can discover many opportunities for writing careers they might consider pursuing.
Why Writing Is Important
While each career requires its own industry-specific capabilities, many require writing skills. Effective writing is crucial because it is at the core of all communication.
People in many fields communicate through emails or written letters. Business managers conduct performance reviews and provide new goals for employees through written feedback. Nurses and doctors keep track of patients’ medical histories through detailed records. The field of law revolves around written laws and statutes, and politicians deliver speeches that initially need to be written down. Creative fields also rely on writing, as actors and actresses memorize one uniformly written script to perform a cohesive play. Artists find instructions about how to use new mediums through written texts. From art to law, organizations and individuals rely on accurately written documents.
While professional writers and authors are not required in every field, the ability to write effectively is usually important. Employees need to use correct grammar and spelling in their work. Displaying excellent language skills demonstrates intelligence and competence and also can determine whether a job is well done or incorrect. If individuals cannot accurately express themselves in writing, they allow for confusion and mistakes.
Writing not only provides a foundation for communication between individuals and teams, it also helps develop critical thinking skills. Pursuing an education in writing provides a foundation in critical thinking for individuals who are constantly reading and writing. However, critical thinking skills are important for everyone regardless of industry or career. Companies need employees who can carefully analyze a piece of information or problem and make a thoughtful decision. Businesses rely on employees being able to collect and analyze data and market a product for the target consumer. Governments rely on lawyers being able to carefully and critically deliver a case, and rely on judges being able to pass ethical and sound judgment on criminals. Educational systems rely on teachers being able to cater teaching methods to students with various learning abilities, at different levels. By exercising analytical writing and reading informative and accurate texts, individuals in every occupation can develop and practice critical thinking skills.
Getting Started as a Freelance Writer
While writing is important for every career, providing a foundation for communication and developing critical thinking skills, it can also be a career itself. Many of the versatile careers in writing are in freelance work. Although it can look different for lots of writers, the basic definition of freelance writing is making money by working independently. Freelance writers are hired by individual clients, working remotely or meeting clients occasionally. They can have regular clients who hire them for ongoing work or can produce individual assignments for many different clients.
The process of becoming a freelance writer may be different for every individual. However, freelance writers usually have a bachelor’s degree in writing, liberal studies, literature and writing, English, journalism, or a related field. They should have writing experience and be able to show a portfolio of work. Different clients and companies look for different levels of experience, but all freelance writers should have a portfolio of writing samples.
One of the most important steps in getting started as a freelance writer is choosing one or two specific fields of expertise. Clients and companies will look to hire writers who have experience writing about certain topics, so freelance writers should determine which areas they would like to focus on before getting started. Topics a freelance writer can choose from include real estate, business, technology, design, higher education, finance, politics, cooking, and more.
The career of writing as a freelancer is constantly evolving. One of the main forms of freelance writing is the article. Freelancers can write articles for journals, magazines, websites, newspapers, as well as other online and print mediums. While some of these organizations will have a team of writers, many will hire freelance writers in addition to their staff. Magazines write to specific audiences and hire freelance writers with particular expertise for certain articles. While newspapers have their own writers, they will sometimes hire a freelance writer to write a feature for the entertainment or lifestyle column.
An important aspect of getting started as a freelance writer is marketing yourself and taking time to network. Freelance writers can consider joining a networking group or explore networking websites and writing job boards. A freelance writer should create an impressive profile on a job website, such as LinkedIn, and start applying for freelance jobs. They should research individuals and organizations related to their area of expertise. Freelance writers can also develop their own websites and establish their own platforms for their writing careers.
How to Become a Content Writer
Content writing is one potential focus for a career in writing. Content writers write compelling texts for websites, usually aiming to sell a product or service. Content writers should understand their strengths and write about their areas of expertise. They usually have a bachelor’s degree in writing, liberal studies, literature and writing, English, journalism, or a related field. They should also have a portfolio of writing samples presenting their ability to write in a variety of styles.
Content writers need to be familiar with many types of writing and able to use different styles and voices for different content. They can write website copy with an informative tone, addressing aspects of business, while still effectively reaching the target audience. Content writers use a personable tone and can be opinionated or humorous while writing blogs. They can also write white papers in which they address a problem and provide a solution. Content writers should use an informative but persuasive tone while writing copy for advertisements. Social media content will usually have an exciting tone, using expressive words to match a client’s social media aesthetic. In contrast, news stories will be presented in a more serious tone, with short and informative paragraphs.
It is very important for content writers to understand their target audience and be able to write what their audience will want to read. They need to be able to incorporate specific keywords in the text. Content writers who work as freelancers might need to conduct their own keyword research, while those who are hired by a company might be given a specific keyword. They should be familiar with search engine optimization (SEO) and able to produce content accordingly.
As technology develops and more companies rely on social media to convey information, content writers are being hired to write text for these platforms. Organizations and clients can hire content writers to create standalone posts or posts related to information on their websites. Content writers might be hired to write an article as well as a social media blurb to accompany the article. Content writing provides a variety of exciting avenues for writers as one of the many versatile careers in writing.
How to Become a Grant Writer
While there are many interesting careers in writing, writers who wish to contribute to a specific cause might look into grant writing. These professionals gather information to produce grant proposals aimed at acquiring funding for nonprofit organizations. Grant writers help secure monetary support from outside individuals and organizations to ensure the financial stability of nonprofit organizations.
People looking to pursue careers as grant writers usually have a bachelor’s degree in writing, liberal studies, literature and writing, English, journalism, or a related field. They can also look into taking classes specifically for grant writing or proposal writing, since grant writing requires a specific skill set. Grant writers should build a portfolio and develop detail-oriented skills. Since grants include technical knowledge of budgeting and finance, grant writers should be able to address these elements in their writing. They will write about a nonprofit organization’s financial needs as well as its long-term and short-term goals. The grant writer should be able to present a rationally supported and detailed proposal, explaining exactly how the potential funding will be put to good use.
Grant writers can volunteer for nonprofit organizations to better understand their client by becoming familiar with its mission and vision. They can practice writing grant proposals using different approaches. Storytelling approaches might be most effective for some organizations, with grant writers providing a compelling story about the nonprofit organization’s history and vision. Other grants should be mostly based on statistics and facts. The approach a grant writer takes is very important, as it determines the tone of the grant proposal and the way it will be read by potential donors. While a grant proposal should project the nonprofit organization’s objectives, it should also explain its heart and mission.
Grant writers establishing their careers in writing can constantly improve their skills and expand their knowledge through editing and rewriting proposals. They can join a community of writers and review each other’s work, providing feedback for improvement. Grant writers can also work alongside an experienced grant writer to glean valuable knowledge.
How to Become a Technical Writer
Another writing career option is technical writing. Technical writers produce technical documents for products or services requiring instructions or directions. They break down the steps of how something works or how to complete a task. Writers looking to pursue a career as a technical writer usually have a bachelor’s degree in writing, liberal studies, literature and writing, communications, English, journalism, or a related field. Some employers look for writers with a background in a specialized field, such as engineering, healthcare, or computer science, among others. As in other writing careers, technical writers should have a certain level of expertise regarding the subject they are writing about. Some technical writers take classes and obtain higher levels of education for their specialized area of interest.
Technical writers need to have experience with technology and be technologically savvy. They should be able to manage the tools and applications necessary for producing the technical documents they have been assigned to write. They should also clearly understand the product or service they are writing about. Technical writers should exhibit natural curiosity, willingly exploring their subjects to better understand them.
Technical writers should be able to write clearly and concisely, using accessible language that readers can easily understand. They should be able to distill complicated directions into straightforward steps. Technical writers should anticipate readers’ questions and answer them. During the process of creating technical documents, technical writers can meet with experts in the field to ask their own questions regarding how a product works or how a service should be explained.
As technology continues to evolve, technical writers should understand the basics of design and have an ability to use new tools. While they are not usually expected to be code experts, it can be helpful to know how to use and change HTML and CSS. Technical writers should have a strong foundation in technology, especially regarding their specific niche, whether it is computer science, engineering, or something else. For technical writing, as in other careers in writing, there are many benefits to finding a niche. By establishing a foundation and writing some sample technical documents, writers build their technical writing skills and expand their portfolios.
How to Become a Travel Writer
Another exciting and versatile career in writing is travel writing. Travel writing can take a variety of forms and take writers a variety of places. Different types of travel writing require different levels of education, experience, and expertise. Those looking to pursue careers as travel writers can begin by earning a bachelor’s degree in writing, liberal studies, literature and writing, communications, English, journalism, or a related field. Writers in this field should read a lot of travel writing to develop a better understanding of the field. Reading about different places through books, blogs, and magazines can inspire travel writers to produce their own content.
Travel writing includes all the elements that contribute to traveling, including destination articles, guidebooks, travel magazines, travel memoirs, restaurant reviews, longform posts, how-to articles, hotel reviews, op-eds, travel blogging, essays, special interest articles, and more. Writers looking to break into travel writing can begin by establishing an online presence through social media or blogging.
Travel writers should build their portfolios with writing samples about their travels, from small excursions to long trips, writing as they go. They should also constantly look for opportunities to travel to new places and write new material. To get paid for their writing, travel writers need to market themselves and regularly pitch article and blog ideas. An important aspect of travel writing is that writers should maintain a level of professionalism while marketing themselves and pitching ideas. Professionalism also extends to their time in the field. The best travel writers are meticulous in their research and note taking, as their work will serve as a resource for people looking for information about the area.
Travel writers can have exciting careers in writing if they are willing to invest time and money into their work. They should be able to develop other relevant skills as well, such as photography, so they can take their own pictures to accompany their stories. Like other writers, travel writers can benefit from editing skills, so they can edit their own social media and blog posts.
While technical writing, content writing, grant writing, and other careers in writing require certain styles and tones for proposals and documents, travel writing has very few restraints. Travel writers can create their own personas, developing their own unique tones and perspectives. These professionals have one of the most versatile careers in writing, as they can write anything, from travel blogs to books filled with travel memoirs.
Pursue a Career in Writing
Writing is one of the most important elements of a wide variety of careers. Many occupations rely on good writing for effective and efficient communication. Writing not only establishes communication in organizations, it also develops critical thinking skills. From government roles to businesses, from engineering to education, critical thinking skills are vital.
There are many versatile careers in writing, from content writing to travel writing. Writers can choose from fields as diverse as writing technical documents, website content, grant proposals, or travel blogs. While each career in writing has its own skill requirements, there are many similarities among writing careers. Many careers in writing require a bachelor’s degree in writing, liberal studies, literature and writing, communications, English, journalism, or a related field.
By earning a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies, students establish research skills and the ability to write analytical essays. Students in Maryville University’s online Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies learn and apply many skills professional writers need: effective written and verbal communication, collaboration, adaptability, critical thinking, and decision-making. With key curriculum courses in English, ethics, history, and psychology, students establish a strong foundation of knowledge that prepares them for the experiences that come with different careers in writing. Students looking to pursue a career in writing can explore Maryville’s online bachelor’s in liberal studies and learn more about how the program can help them pursue one of many versatile writing careers.
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics, Writers and Authors
Entrepreneur, “The 5 Skills You Need to Become a Successful Content Writer”
Forbes, “How to Launch Your Freelance Writing Career”
Huffington Post, “Reasons Why Writing Remains a Critical Skill for Success”
Los Angeles Times, “Guidelines for Freelance Writers”
Novatek Communications, “6 Skills Needed to Create Successful Technical Documentation”
Reedsy Blog, “12 Types of Travel Writing Every Writer Should Know”
Scribendi, “How to Write a Grant Proposal”
Society for Technical Communication, “How to Become a Location Independent Technical Writer”
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Future Education Technology: How Digital Trends Are Shaping Teaching
How Technological Advancements Will Shape the Future of Journalism
Trends and Skills for the Future of Research