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How To Write For A Living

Feb 13, 2020Blog Articles, Writing Articles

If you like words and you’ve ever considered a career involving writing, you’ve probably thought about becoming a journalist or a novelist. Those are both very well-known ways to write for a living, but how do you get started? And what if there are other ways to write for a living that you’ve never even considered?

In this guide, we’ll give you tips on how to choose a writing career and how to prepare yourself for it. Some of the jobs in this guide may surprise you! And hopefully it will get you thinking about the different kinds of writing you can make a career out of. You’ll also find some insider advice from freelance writer Sophie Parker.

A career in writing could look something like this… 

 

Journalist

 

Job description:

Journalists gather information, write news stories, conduct and write up interviews, write opinion and comment pieces, and generally aim to write informative and engaging articles, largely centring around current affairs. The journalism scene is changing, and it’s not only newspapers and magazines that you may find yourself working on these days. There are also lots of new online publications, as well as jobs in TV and radio stations. 

What type of writing does it involve?

One of the best things about a career in journalism is that you can specialise in a particular area depending on your interests. This could be sports, current affairs/news, fashion, beauty, business, politics, economics or science. A journalist’s job is not limited to writing articles, and you may be involved with editing, graphics, layout, illustrating and many other things. There are lots of different kinds of journalist, and a career in this field can give you the freedom to create your own role, while focusing on writing what matters the most to you.

What skills are required?

As well as requiring excellent written and verbal skills, journalists also need high interpersonal competency. Not only do they have to perform interviews, but maintaining a strong network of contacts makes sourcing stories a lot easier. Journalists also need integrity, as they often find themselves enforcing their own ethical guidelines and judging what is appropriate to avoid conflicts of interest or publishing libellous content.

What is libel? It is a published false statement that damages a person’s reputation.

Journalists also have to use reputable sources and not spread fake news. Depending on the type of journalism, the job may have a demanding schedule as you work around whatever you are reporting. It is also possible to work as a freelance journalist, either producing and submitting content to various news outlets on an adhoc basis, or establishing a reputation as an “on-call” journalist, meaning various editors will contact you when they need an article written. This can provide more freedom, but is also less financially secure than a permanent position. As the nature of journalism changes, more outlets are looking for a roster of freelance writers while cutting down their employed staff.

How do you become a journalist?

There are many different ways to become a journalist. Some people study journalism as an undergraduate degree, with an apprenticeship or after their degree, for example at the London School of Journalism. If you want to work for a UK-based organisation, it is important that you choose a course that is accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). It may be useful to study or get experience in the specialism you are interested in so that you are knowledgeable about the topic you want to write on.

writer career options

Novelist

 

Job description:

Coming up with ideas and writing fiction. A novelist will traditionally submit their novel to publishers, who will then offer them a contract and print, market and sell their book(s). Increasingly, authors are turning to self-publishing, which can be an arduous and expensive alternative if your book doesn’t sell well. But this does allow for more control if your book sells well! 

What type of writing does it involve?

This depends on the type of novel, but usually the writing will be creative and centre around fictional narratives. There are many different genres available, from adult literary fiction to fantasy, romance, mystery novels or young adult fiction. Some genres have bigger markets than others.

What skills are required?

There are no formal qualifications required to become an author, but there are a number of skills that are necessary to be successful in this field. A good understanding of grammar, spelling and syntax is a useful start, and it can be helpful to understand the way people speak and the conventions of dialogue writing. Good research skills are very important, as it’s likely you’ll be writing about places and situations you’ve never experienced.

You must also be good at setting your own deadlines and sticking to them, as much of the work you do will be self-managed. Commercial awareness is a really important skill for novelists, as it’s important to know the demographic you’re writing for and what the new developments in your genre are. Reading lots of books in the same field may be important for you, so you can get ideas and respond to trends. Especially when starting out, novelists need to be self-motivated and resilient, because it’s almost inevitable that not everyone will believe in your ideas as much as you do, and it can be difficult dealing with rejection.

How do you become a novelist?

The first way to become a novelist is to start writing and create a plan for yourself. Make sure you know what your end goal is and make a schedule to help you get there. Every author has their own process, so it’s up to you to figure out what works best. Find out what other novelists do to get some ideas. Some of the skills needed can be built on a summer course like Oxford Scholastica’s Writing Summer Schools. 

How do I get published?

One of the hardest parts of becoming a novelist is getting published and, after that, getting people to buy your book! The internet is a great tool to help you land a publishing deal and market your book to potential readers. One way to get published is to find an agent who will submit your novel to a publishing house for you.

On the other hand, you could manage your career yourself and try to publish independently. As a self-publisher, you may be restricted to the online market, whereas publishing houses are very good at getting physical books onto shelves in bookshops. Both are viable options, but in a saturated market this is the point where you need to start thinking of your beloved novel as a ‘product’ and your dreamed-about future readers as ‘consumers’.

An important step to getting published is making sure your novel is thoroughly edited and formatted so that it looks professional. You also need to have a description of your novel, which will act as a kind of sales pitch. You may choose to promote it through a platform such as Bookbub or Amazon.  

 

Textbook writer/ Educational Resource Creator

 

Job description:

Textbooks are used primarily in education, but also in businesses and sectors such as Medicine. They could also be textbooks for independent study or for adults, such as language learning textbooks or instructional guides. You may work for an educational publisher such as CGP or Routledge, work as a freelancer, or even publish your textbooks independently.

In some cases, this job could involve writing physical textbooks for certain exam specifications, for example, GCSE exams in the UK. However, this sector is undergoing changes as there is an increasing demand for online and video educational resources. You could find yourself writing online flashcards, website copy or video scripts. There are different models of online learning resources, including a subscription service such as SnapRevise or free websites such as Revision World. 

What type of writing does it involve?

Educational writing needs to be clear, informative and engaging. It must be easy to understand and cater to the age and ability of its reader. The style and tone of educational writing can vary and tends to correspond to different approaches to education. Some may be engaging and interactive, whereas others may simply wish to present information clearly. This job may also involve some graphic design.

What skills are required?

This kind of writing requires specialist knowledge of a subject and perhaps teaching experience. You will need excellent research skills and should develop a sense of user experience so you understand what makes a useful textbook or educational resource. You should be familiar with different learning techniques as the psychology of learning is commonly used as a basis for creating effective resources.

How do you become a textbook writer?

You may need a degree in the subject you wish to write on. Experience teaching or tutoring may be helpful in some cases, to get an idea of what students need. People often want to know that a textbook has been written by an expert in the field. You may also wish to get some work experience or do an internship with an exam provider, academic publisher or educational company. Once you have enough experience, it is up to you whether to apply for jobs with large companies in this sector or set up your own business. This job can be done alongside another career such as teaching or academia. One of the pros of this job is feeling like you’re helping people learn and making a difference to students’ lives.

 

Columnist

 

Job description:

A columnist writes for a regular column or series in a publication such as a newspaper or magazine, usually in a specialised area of public interest. Examples of these could be fashion, sports, politics, religion or personal advice.

What type of writing does it involve?

Columns usually offer commentary or personal opinions. This means you’d usually be writing from your own point of view, often with a more conversational tone than traditional newspaper articles. 

What skills are required?

Often columnists have expertise in the area they’re discussing and are able to offer informed and entertaining analysis. As well as impressive writing, you need to be able to express your opinions on the area which you’re discussing. You may be speaking as a public figure and need to make your writing personal so it feels familiar and engaging to readers.

Every columnist has a different style; some are biting and sceptical, whereas others take a warm, humorous approach. You need to be perceptive and keep up to date with current affairs. Some columnists have clear opinions, whereas others aim to inform and entertain without presenting a bias.

How do you become a columnist?

A degree in English, Communications or Journalism is common but not a requirement. Building up a body of work or portfolio is very important. This can include a blog or writing in your student newspaper. You may want to set up an online profile which presents your experience and expertise in the area you wish to write in.

Work experience or internships with magazines, newspapers or online publications may help, including experience as a copy editor. You can often find opportunities for entry-level positions online. The majority of newspapers and magazines prefer to hire experienced columnists, which makes it a challenging field to break into and means any experience you can get will bolster your applications.

writing for a living

Translator

 

Job Description:

Translate written or spoken material into another language, ensuring meaning and tone are maintained. You may work with individual clients or larger businesses. Translators can be freelance (self-employed) or ‘in-house’ (employed by a specific company).

What type of writing does it involve?

Translators work with all kinds of texts and can be working on anything from fiction books to press releases to legal documents. You will essentially be re-writing something that has already been written. While this may not seem as creative as a job like fiction-writing, the work can be fascinating, as it leads you to think about how cultural references, colloquialisms and idiomatic expressions can be made clear in another language. It requires an unusual kind of creativity, and sometimes a knowledge of specialist terminology.

What skills are required?

The obvious requirement for a translator is knowledge of more than one language. Often translations will be done from a foreign language into your native tongue for optimal fluency of expression. Employers therefore often hire translators who are bilingual or native speakers of the target language with fluency in the original language. An exception to this, of course, is translating into braille for the blind and partially-sighted. Because it is a specialist skill, translating into braille can be a high paying job.

How do you become a translator?

Apart from learning languages and perfecting your knowledge of those languages, it is important to get evidence of your ability. This may include a degree in languages, previous translation work or living in a country where your second language is spoken to prove fluency. It can be a good idea to build a portfolio, too, as this is the quickest way for employers or clients to assess whether you will be a good fit.

 

Screenwriter

 

Job description:

Screenwriters create scripts for film or TV, either from their own ideas or other people’s. They create characters and write the dialogue and plot of the film or series. The job consists of idea generation and research, planning, character development, and of course writing. Many scriptwriters specialise in a particular genre, such as comedy, fantasy or horror.

What type of writing does it involve?

Writing an engaging and coherent plot, building characters and writing convincing dialogue are the mainstays of screenwriting. The resulting script will be used as a starting point for creative interpretation by the actors, director and production team. The process of screenwriting tends to start with ideas, move on to a planning and research stage, and then end in character development and writing.

Screenwriters write material that will be performed for the screen, which has different conventions to other writing. For example, although it is made up of dialogue and stage directions, the writing and characters tend to be a lot ‘smaller’ and often more naturalistic than in a play. It is important to audiences that the writing is believable and the plot moves naturally but at a decent pace. As well as an awareness of how their script will be produced, screenwriters also must consider their audience, age rating and genre.

What skills are required?

Screenwriters must be able to work collaboratively and take the ideas of fiction writers and producers into account. Additionally, any acclaim for the work tends to be given to directors, so it’s possible to feel like a background presence at times, even though your work is crucial to the process. Strong writing abilities and creativity is a given, but you must also be familiar with the format and conventions of script. An understanding of the filmmaking process is also a key part of the role. Useful characteristics for the job are self-motivation, resilience and patience.

How do you become a screenwriter?

No formal qualifications are required, but many screenwriters have a degree in English or related subjects. An interest in films and experience writing are useful. Peer workshops can be helpful for new writers to get feedback, so meeting other screenwriters and sharing your work can be very helpful. Especially when you’re getting started, internships, assistant roles or other work in the industry can be very helpful for getting to know people and building transferable skills, and can also be a good support to your income.

 

Academic research

 

Job description:

Academics usually work for a university and their work consists of a combination of teaching and research. Research often involves writing up reports or books on their findings. Teaching can involve writing a series of lectures or holding classes and seminars.

What type of writing does it involve?

Generally, academic writing ought to be clear and precise, getting across the findings or ideas as well as possible. It has a formal tone and style but should be easy for informed readers to understand. Lectures and presentations can be more conversational in tone.

Sometimes academics publish books for general audiences as well, such as Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, On The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin or Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. These books either present groundbreaking new theories or aim to inform and entertain readers who want to learn about a subject from an expert. Genres such as popular science and biographies of literary or political figures can have great commercial success. Many academics use their expertise in an area to write fiction, such as historical novels or science fiction.

What skills are required?

To be an academic, you must have a strong interest in and knowledge of your subject. It takes many years to become an academic and skills other than writing, such as strong interpersonal and research ability, attention to detail and time management are required. 

How do you become an academic writer?

Although you can start writing about your subject of interest at any level, becoming an academic takes many years of work in one area. Gaining a PhD is the first step to becoming an academic, after which you will undertake post-doctoral research and try to get a fixed-term post with a university department. Getting your research published can take a while, and is a separate process to getting published for non-academic writing.

writing career path

Lawyer (solicitor or barrister) 

 

Job description:

What many people think of as a ‘lawyer’ actually covers two distinct jobs:

A solicitor is a qualified legal professional who gives expert advice and support to their clients and advises on a course of legal action. Many solicitors are litigators, meaning a lawyer who helps someone take legal action, but some specialise in areas of law and do advocacy cases as well.

Barristers are hired by solicitors to represent a case in court. They become involved once advocacy before a court is needed, and usually specialise in particular areas of law such as criminal law, commercial law or sports law. Often a barrister’s work involves advising clients on the law and providing them with a written ‘opinion’.

What type of writing does it involve?

Legal writing involves analysing facts, explaining patterns and presenting arguments in documents such as legal memoranda and briefs. The kind of legal writing a solicitor does usually involves presenting a balanced analysis of a legal problem or issue. The form of legal writing a Barrister does is more likely to be persuasive, advocating in favour of a legal position. Legal writing is a highly skilled art and requires the writer to make information clear while using specialised terminology.

What skills are required?

To be a lawyer, you need to have good judgement and be able to draw logical, reasonable conclusions from the information you are presented with. You must be good at analysing and evaluating large amounts of information. It is important to be good with people and to be able to communicate clearly, whether in person or through your writing. Strong research skills are also important for a solicitor or barrister.

How do you become a lawyer?

To be a lawyer you need to get a bachelor’s degree. In the UK, this can be in Law or in any other subject – a common one is English. Approximately 50% of lawyers are Law graduates and 50% are non-Law graduates, so this choice will not affect your chances.

If you took a non-law degree, you then take a Law conversion course. The most common ones are the Common Professional Examination (CPE) and the Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL). This is an intensive course and takes one to two years. If you studied a law degree, you can take the next step without a conversion course. The final step in qualifying as a solicitor or barrister is to take the Legal Practice Course or LPC (for future solicitors) or Bar Professional Training Course or BPTC (for aspiring barristers).

 

Playwright

 

Job description:

Playwrights write stories to be performed on stage, often in theatres. They invent the plot and characters and write scripts to be performed by actors. Sometimes a playwright will also direct their own plays, or sometimes they will be directed by another person.

What type of writing does it involve?

Playwrights usually have a lot of creative freedom over what and how they write. The only ‘limitations’ are the pragmatic facts of needing to produce the play and perform it to people, and perhaps the budget. 

What skills are required?

Playwrights need to have clear creative vision and be able to communicate this through the script, dialogue and discussion with actors and the production team. It’s also important to be able to revise and edit your own work, so being open to changing your ideas can be a good attribute. It’s important to manage your time well and be resilient.

How do you become a playwright?

An important first step is to read and see a lot of plays, and become familiar with your local theatre scene. Find out what makes a good play and what’s important to you. You should also get feedback and see what it’s like to go through the production process; you could write (or adapt) a play for a local theatre group or a student production.

It’s important to practice and get plenty of experience writing. There are workshops and courses you can attend, with UK examples including the High Tide Writers’ Group or Royal Court Theatre Introductory Writers’ Groups. A good way to get into writing plays professionally is to enter competitions.

It’s also important to make a plan to earn extra income, as even successful playwrights rarely make enough to live on through their drama alone, and they are usually paid in lump sums for each script. This could involve other kinds of freelance writing or running writing workshops.

 

Critic – (film, theatre, music, fashion or art critic, book or food reviewer)

 

Job description:

A critic is a writer or presenter who evaluates and reviews creative works, sharing their opinion on its success and explaining the reasoning behind their opinion. They are paid to watch films or shows, visit exhibitions or read books in order to provide their professional opinion on them. There are critics for many kinds of media, as can be seen from the list above. They describe the experience to readers as well as giving an expert opinion.

What type of writing does it involve?

Generally, the aims of a critic’s writing will be commentary and assessment. Bob Dylan said ‘don’t criticise what you can’t understand’, and this is why part of the critic’s job is to explain their experience of the thing they are reviewing and to try and understand the intention behind it. The critic’s job is to guide public opinion on art or entertainment. It’s important to know that the activity of a critic is not to “criticise”, but to “critique”. Reviews should be entertaining to read and represent the critic’s emotional and intellectual response to the work they’re reviewing. Some critics take a stronger tone than others in doing this, but everyone has their own writing style.

What skills are required?

The main requirement is a highly developed sense of judgement and taste. You must become an expert in the standards and techniques of your specialisation. Excellent writing skills are required and you must be able to articulate your thoughts clearly and understand your reactions to art. 

How do you become a critic?

You will need technical knowledge of the art form, but the degree to which you include this in your writing will depend on your audience. You may need to study and gain qualifications in the field you wish to write on. For example, an art critic may study art history, and a food critic may train to be a chef. To be a film critic you could do a degree in film or cinema studies, whereas a music critic may study music.

Some critics and reviewers work freelance and some work for newspapers, magazines, radio or television. The best way to become a critic is to work for a student paper or do freelance work, or even build up a portfolio of reviews on a blog or YouTube channel. You also need to build up experience which means people will trust your judgement on the subject, and a good way to do this when you’re starting out can be to work for prestigious institutions in the field, such as the Michelin Guide for food critics or the Royal Ballet School for a dance critic.

poetry career

Poet

 

Job description:

A poet’s job is one of the more self-explanatory roles in this guide. Poets write poetry and make money either from selling their books or from poems commissioned by institutions. They can also make money by winning prizes or awards.

What type of writing does it involve?

Poems are written in verse, which sometimes follows a specific metrical structure and rhyme pattern. It involves a familiarity with poetic forms and the ways they’ve been used in the past or by contemporary poets.

What skills are required?

In order to be a poet, you need to be creative and have an eye for patterns, being able to structure your words within a form or verse type to express your meaning in the best way. You need to be a linguist and be deeply interested in the meanings of words and how they are used in speech or writing in various different contexts. From a practical point of view, in order to be a poet you must be comfortable with an unstable income or be able to find a way to add to your income in other ways.

How do you become a poet?

The most important thing is to read a lot of poetry and start writing. Once you’re sure of yourself and happy with your work, you should try entering your poems to competitions and sending them in to publications, to see if you can get published or win a prize, which often leads to further opportunities. You could also establish an online presence and present your work on a website or social media, to try and gain interest and make a profit that way.

Depending on your style, presenting your poetry at slam and spoken word events can be a really useful way of getting feedback on your work, meeting other creatives and building a name for yourself. The more prestigious slam competitions also offer sizable prizes.

 

Lyricist

 

Job description:

Lyricists write creatively and their job has a lot of overlap with that of a poet. For example, Leonard Cohen started as a poet and later became a songwriter, and in 2015, Bob Dylan was the first songwriter to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Lyricists write lyrics, and sometimes the music to go with it. This could be freelance work for television and radio adverts or for singers or record labels. It often involves working with artists, who are usually better known than the lyricists who write for them.

What type of writing does it involve?

The type of writing will usually depend on the genre and preference of the lyricist, but a familiarity with generic conventions and some musical skill is usually required. Many song lyrics seem simple, repetitive and stripped-down compared to poetry or other kinds of writing, and this is because the music is a very important and expressive element in communicating the message of the song, whether it be a jingle or a love song.

What skills are required?

Often, lyricists need to be collaborative and be highly creative. However, being a lyricist often involves being led by the demands of the project that has been commissioned or writing according to what is popular, as well as writing to your own artistic preferences.

How do you become a Lyricist?

The most important thing for an aspiring Lyricist is to hone your craft and work on your writing and musical skill. Keep writing poems, keep learning to play instruments, and keep listening to music that you find interesting and inspiring. 

 

Biographer

 

Job description:

A biographer is someone who writes an account of someone else’s life, sometimes in the form of a story as written up from a series of interviews, or sometimes as a factual account after the person’s death. Biographers write accounts of the lives of public figures or someone who is of interest to the general public. However, some biographies are written for private consumption, usually for family members or institutions.

What type of writing does it involve?

Biography writing can range from casual and anecdotal in tone to factual and historical. The writing involves in-depth research and summarising a person’s life – this also involves deciding how to order and present the information you find and working out what is most important to readers. It can involve detailed historical research or long interview sessions, so biographers must be patient people, able to keep interested in a project and see it through to its conclusion.

What skills are required?

As well as the ability to write with clarity, a biographer must be well organised and have excellent research skills. You must be able to sort through information and be aware of the potential biases which may emerge when writing about a particular subject. Usually biographies are of interest because they relate to a particular topic, so it’s important to be well-informed on that topic so you are able to understand the importance of the person you are writing about and their actions. 

How do you become a biographer?

Often biographers will have a qualification relating to writing or communication, or English or History. To become a biographer, you have to be very interested in learning about people and discovering the details of their lives. It may be that you decide upon someone influential to write about and try to get a book deal through a publishing house, or you could approach individuals about writing their memoirs or biography and build up a portfolio this way. Historians often write biographies, so it may be important for you to become an academic expert on the period or subject before writing biographies.

how to write

Speechwriter

 

Job description:

A speechwriter is someone who prepares talking points and writes and edit speeches. They can be employed by officials, institutions or politicians. It often involves managing someone’s public reputation and being aware of how to be diplomatic and effective in official speeches.

What type of writing does it involve?

Speechwriters write words for someone else to present at a public occasion or opening and will be writing with the role, institution, person presenting, audience and context in mind. They will try to express the appropriate sentiments and create an effective speech.  

What skills are required?

They must be knowledgeable about contemporary and local issues and be very well organised, because a speechwriter sometimes needs to produce material for an upcoming event with a very close deadline, depending on the type of client and what situations may arise.

 

Technical writer 

 

Job description:

Technical writers write technical materials, such as equipment manuals or maintenance and operating instructions, such as for a coffee machine or a new iPhone.

What type of writing does it involve?

Although it may seem like this type of writing is very straightforward and not dynamic, as with any kind of writing there are conventions and debates within the industry. For example, in 2011, Russell Hobbs won a Plain English Award for their vacuum cleaner instructions from the organisation which campaigns against ‘gobbledygook, jargon and misleading public information’, often in political or legal language. This shows how important it is for technical writers to convey information which often has specialist terminology and phrases in a way that is accessible to anyone.

What skills are required?

You will need to be good at understanding or easily learning how products operate and be able to explain things in the simplest way possible. This requires a good knowledge of your audience and the ability to adapt your communication style based on whether the demographic includes the elderly, disabled people, non-native language speakers or well-versed experts using scientific equipment.

How do you become a technical writer?

It often helps to get a qualification in communications or in the specific field of technology you will be writing on. After that, technical writers are usually employed by the company which developed and sells the product.

 

Ghostwriter

 

Job description:

A ghostwriter is hired to write content for an individual or company who will publish the work as their own. Ghostwriters do not get credit and often enter a confidentiality agreement, meaning they cannot tell anyone they wrote it. Although this may seem like they get the short end of the stick, this can give you more freedom regarding the kind of projects you take on, allowing you for more variety and experimentation without being limited by a public reputation or following.

It allows you to publish your own work under your own name as well, so can be a good way of earning money and being a professional writer while you work on establishing yourself as an author. Ghostwriting can often pay exceptionally well compared to regular freelance writing.

What type of writing does it involve?

Ghostwriting often involves writing an autobiography, memoir or novel, but could involve any number of types of writing projects. While ghostwriting is often associated with celebrity memoirs, it can actually cover any kind of writing that someone else gets the credit for.

What skills are required?

As well as excellent writing skills, it’s important to understand that ghostwriting means you’ll be working on someone else’s project. This often means they will be making the decisions about content and structure, and you will be writing to their standards and following their editorial decisions. You must be good at collaborating and good at interviewing.  

How do you become a ghostwriter?

Ghostwriters often start out doing their own fiction or freelance writing, so make sure you perfect your writing and develop a portfolio before you expect anybody to pay you to write for them. It’s important to show you can write in a range of voices and styles depending on the demands of the project. It’s also important to develop your customer support skills, as ghostwriters are constantly working with their clients.

 

writing for a living

Travel writer

 

Job description:

Travel writers visit many different places and write about their experiences to help advise other people on places to go and how to prepare for a holiday in that place. They sometimes write to advertise holidays, hotels, hostels or transport and earn their money that way.

What type of writing does it involve?

Travel writing must be descriptive, detailed and high-quality and is often informative as well as entertaining. Depending on whether you write for a publication, a company or your own blog, there will be varying levels of personal experience in your writing. Travel writing can vary from very objective and professional in tone to very casual and entertaining.

What skills are required?

Obviously, you must be happy to travel and often must be able to start travelling and writing about your experiences before you start getting paid for your writing, which requires you to be spending on travel before you earn from it. You must be comfortable with a nomadic, unstable lifestyle and be willing to try new things and visit new places to benefit your writing and readers.

How do you become a travel writer?

Besides starting a blog or using your social media to build a following, it is also possible to get a job writing for a resort or tourism company. For casual experience of this to find out if it’s the kind of work you’d like to do, perhaps you could try volunteering your writing services in exchange for accommodation and other perks on a website such as Workaway. This can give you an idea of what it’s like to be a travel writer and start building your portfolio. Alternatively, you could try to get some work experience with a company such as Lonely Planet.

 

Profile of a Freelance Writer

 

Here are some top tips from Freelance Writer, Sophie Parker.

As a freelance writer, I balance quite a few different projects depending on what clients are looking for. A lot of what I’ve written so far has been online content, largely for blogs or news pages on businesses’ websites (including Oxford Scholastica!), but I also write and script surveys for a market research start-up. 

“I started writing work properly after being approached by a copywriting agency who had seen some of my articles for a student paper online, and I’ve picked up various clients since through word of mouth, as well as an app called Toptask. Some of my friends have found jobs through family too. So it’s important to tell people that you’re a copywriter as you never know who might offer you work.

“Freelancing (especially when you’re starting out) means catering to a lot of very varied briefs, so it’s anyone’s guess whether I’m writing a 2000 word, heavily-researched article or a bite-sized, quirky profile at any given moment. This is part of the fun for me, as I never know what sort of topic I’m going to need to learn about next. 

“The freedom to work whenever and wherever you want is a big plus too; earning money poolside while on holiday over the summer was definitely a high point. That said, the nature of freelancing makes things a bit insecure, so you have to constantly source new clients in case an existing one no longer needs your services. You also spend a good portion of your life chasing invoices, which is no one’s idea of fun. 

“The flip side to being able to work on holiday is that it can be difficult to make sure you don’t; since keeping clients happy is the only way of ensuring something like a regular income, and it’s so easy to complete the work anywhere with an internet connection, it can be difficult to say no. This means it’s really important to plan ahead and make sure you have time to both keep on top of your work commitments and give yourself a break. It’s a great job, but a difficult one to really make a living in. And it’s maybe best treated as a supplementary income to begin with.”

 

Next Steps

 

  • Preparing to study literature, or keen to grow your creative writing skills? Oxford Scholastica’s two-week summer courses are full of inspirational learning opportunities to develop your skills in creative writing
  • If academic writing is your thing, see what it’s like to live and work as a PhD student in English Literature
  • Essays can be tricky, but if you nail the perfect essay-writing skills now, it will set you up for a future career in all kinds of writing

Aspiring writer?

Join us this summer for one of our Writing summer schools! Our courses are packed with opportunities for you to hone your craft as a writer and get tips from people who have already made it their profession, with the added bonus of being located in the beautiful literary city of Oxford.