When you are at school and you visit the careers advisor, the likelihood of a career in writing being recommended as a possibility for a lucrative and successful career is extremely unlikely. It simply isn’t on the majority of people’s minds as a possible vocation, mainly because everybody talks about it being so difficult to break in, and that the stereotype of the “struggling writer” isn’t one that will make most creative people jump up and down with joy and think “sign me up!”.

The other issue with writing as a possible career choice is that it doesn’t fall in with other career choices. Most people can visit a job centre or job website and type in “building”, “sales” or “retail” and be inundated with jobs. Most job centre workers will give you a slightly puzzled expression if you walk in and ask for them to search for writing jobs. The internet has opened up a lot more opportunities to find writing jobs, but they are geared towards freelancers rather than full time positions.

Become a Freelancer

Sites like People per Hour, Elance and Blogging Pro are popular with writers, and they can lead to freelancers picking up clients that work with them for years. But they also have a reputation for not paying very well in some cases, and they don’t guarantee ongoing work. This is a big part of being a freelance writer. The guarantee of work is what makes 99% of the working world get on with their day without having an anxiety attack, and this simply doesn’t exist for a large number of freelancers. It makes for an exciting career, where the emphasis is on building relationships with clients, making contacts that generate work leads and building a profile that will in turn lead to better, higher paying work opportunities. But it takes time and a lot of effort, and the uncertainty can lead to anxiety.

One way to succeed as a freelancer is to become an authority in a niche. This can take a lot of time to build but it can be highly lucrative if you stick with it. You can build this authority by setting up a site or blog and write about your niche on a regular basis. If your site is easy to follow it will soon generate interest from employers who will pay for your writing, advertisers will approach you about having ads on your site (not everybody likes this, but it is still an option) and your profile will grow as a result of the number of social shares and visitors coming to your site will influence your search engine rankings.

Image Source: Race Talk Blog

Writing on the Side

According to the occupational profile for a writer at Agcas, approximately 60% of all writers have a second job, often in other professions such as teaching and lecturing. A number of writers run workshops or hold down part time jobs to supplement their income. In 2008, only 20% of writers earned all of their wages from their writing according to the same profile. This has changed over the last five years, with the possibility of making money from writing improving all of the time due to blogging, self-publishing and other writing gigs and you can find on the web. The issue with balancing a job with a career in writing is that one is always likely to suffer, and you may kick yourself in the future if you never put 100% focus into your writing career. It’s a tough decision to make, and if you can find that balance, you are very lucky indeed.

Self-Publishing Your Work

The big debate in the literary world over the last five years has been about publishing. Self-publishing has flourished because of the internet and the advancement in technology that has seen the Amazon Kindle and other e-readers become absolutely must-have items. The ability to hold literally thousands of books on one reader is as significant as the invention and explosion of the MP3 player, but the controversy and conflict created by the e-readers is much wider than the MP3. The print world has been around for centuries, and some people are still having a tough time with the idea that it may become redundant.

From a writers perspective though, the emergence of self-publishing has opened up incredible opportunities to make a living from writing. Writers of teen novels, erotic fiction and genre fiction have all found huge success via self-publishing with Amazon, Lulu and other companies, and if you strike gold, it can bring you vast riches. Of course, not everyone is going to do a 50 Shades and get film deals and become millionaires, but the opportunity is definitely there to make a good living if you are prepared to market yourself and write in a genre that has a large audience waiting for your work.

Image Source: eBooks By Design

Building Relationships with Other Creatives

“Anybody who is in freelance work, especially artistically, knows that it comes with all the insecurity and the ups and downs. It’s a really frightening life.” – Alessandro Nivola, Author

Writers are often lone wolves, and many writers prefer it this way. If you’re writing novels, short stories, blogging or anything similar, it makes sense to be alone and to focus on writing as a solitary form. But some writers prefer to work with other creative people in different mediums – such as film, TV and theatre – and this creates other opportunities to make money from writing and can give your writing career more range and depth. The loneliness of the page can be broken up by making films or putting together theatre pieces with friends and/or creative people who are following this career path. It opens up many interesting opportunities.

In 1992, Aaron Sorkin came to Hollywood to work on the Hollywood movie version of his stage play A Few Good Men. He was meant to be in LA for six weeks before going back to New York to focus on his play-writing. His next play was written 18 years later.

Opening yourself up to the possibilities of other forms of writing could take your writing career in all kinds of interesting directions, and can be just as lucrative – if not more so – than just concentrating on writing for the page.