How to Become a Writer: A Step-by-Step Guide

June 5, 2019

Figuring out how to navigate the industry can be difficult for aspiring writers. That’s' why we made this guide. Whether it's your first time writing or you're a successfully published author, this guide can help you decide how to advance your career. Learn how to become a writer and start writing today with this handy guide.

What Do Writers Do?

The writing profession is dramatically diverse. There are technical writers who create complex instruction manuals and social media writers that draft viral posts to increase engagement. Since the industry is so varied, it's hard to know what writers do. In general, professional writers in the business realm use marketing skills and writing skills to create informational content. There are also writers in the entertainment realm that create engaging content such as nonfiction novels, screenplays, and movie scripts.

A more in-depth view of what writers do involves understanding the different types of writers. Content writers write pieces that are designed to simply inform consumers and keep them engaged with the company or brand. Copywriters, on the other hand, create articles and content that encourages consumers to follow through with an action. This type of writing is designed to enhance marketing and advertising objectives.

Technical writers create informational documentation to help consumers or employees understand how to use complex products. These writers create white papers, informational manuals, and business reports. They are also often more educated than other writers since they need a deep understanding of complex technology and processes.

On the entertainment side, there are creative writers who create everything from short stories to fiction writing. There are also nonfiction writers who draft biographies and ghostwriters who write autobiographies. Another creative writing style is known as free writing. This type of writing involves simply writing down everything that comes to mind without a solid structure or significant revisions.

Overall, writers share some similar tasks and skills. They are all well versed in research techniques and possess excellent writing skills. They know how to understand data sets and are familiar with marketing practices including SEO.

How Much Do Writers Make?

The salary for writers varies as dramatically as the different types of writing. Some professional writers work full-time while others work part-time or on a project basis. Beginning writers and bloggers will also make far less than a successful writer who has been in the publishing industry for years. Pay can also depend on the writer's location. A screenwriter in Los Angeles may make less than a playwright in New York simply because of the cost of living.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers and authors received a median pay of $61,820 in 2017. Writers typically hold a Bachelor's degree—most commonly a Journalism or English degree. This occupation also benefits from long-term on-the-job training and is expected to experience an eight percent increase between 2016 and 2026 (1).

Pay will largely depend on your starting point and experience. It's not necessarily a bad thing if you don't have a degree. You can land many writing jobs today by producing written samples and demonstrating expertise in a related field. It's also important to remember that we all have to start somewhere.

If you're in high school, professional writing isn't out of reach. The only thing that will hold you back is bad writing. Take a blogging or writing course to get your feet wet and start learning the tools of the trade. Whether you're writing fiction or looking into self-publishing a non-fiction work, there are online courses to help you learn the ins and outs of the business. You won't improve your own writing in a single day, but with practice and time, you'll develop the skills you need to reach the professionalw riting level. You can also simply start by writing for your high school newspaper or create a blog where you can show off your skills. Having content that you can show to potential employers is a great first step.

How To Become A Writer: Step-By-Step

1. Get Experience

Today, getting experience doesn't mean you need to have a college degree. You can simply start writing for local publications or your own blog while you work on developing your skills and technique. Just make sure to start honing your craft and create pieces that you can use to show your skill set.

For some types of writing, you may need a degree. This is mainly for technical writing or if you want to write for industries that are complex including medicine and law.

2. Choose A Specialty

Writers will find that their skills can be applied to many different writing styles. Don't spend too much time focusing on a specific writing type. Instead, try to identify which types of writing you enjoy and which ones fit your background. From there, you can explore opportunities that are varied, but specific enough to ensure you have the skills necessary to produce good writing.

3. Build Your Portfolio

The best way to build your portfolio is to land paid gigs. You can do this by searching for opportunities on job boards such as Indeed or Upwork. If you can't find paid gigs as an entry-level writer, start writing somewhere. You can find an internship at the local paper or simply run your own blog about the journey of becoming a writer. Your portfolio is essential to your success. Once you start to build it out, you can create your own writer website to make it easier for potential clients to find your services.

Don't forget to build skills that supplement your writing. This includes things like marketing techniques, Microsoft or Google tools, and web page management.  Businesses are more likely to hire writers that understand how keyword research and SEO work so make sure to educate yourself in those industries as well.

4. Focus On Skills

There's more to writing than spelling and grammar. Make a list of things that you think are essential for success in your chosen writing style and industry. The mission here is to check off all the essentials on your list. Your list may include language skills and marketing classes or personal attributes such as developing thick skin or driving your ambition. Treat this list as your road map to a writing career and make sure to update it as you move toward your goals. Make sure to include tools that will help you overcome writer's block or brainstorm new ideas to keep the creative juices flowing.

Start Writing Today

Whether you want to start your writing career or want to become a better writer, this guide can help you figure out how to achieve your goals. There's no excuse to prevent you from becoming a great writer. You can start by writing your own books and self publish them or go a different route and start creating SEO content for business blogs. The opportunities for professional writing are endless.

Are you ready to start copywriting today? Join our database of writers! We'll reach out with opportunities that fit your skillset so you can find work whether you’re a good writer or a great writer. We work mainly with writer's who are fluent in the English language, but we do occasionally have opportunities for projects in foreign languages including German. You can also find great writing tips and more information on today's writing industry on our blog.