Do you have a way with words? Turn your unique skill set into a valuable career by becoming a professional writer. You can unleash your inner creativity in a professional setting as you complete assignments for your employer or you can become a freelance writer and work on projects that pique your interest.
Benzinga is here to help you learn how to become a writer.
There’s so much to know about the writing profession. You may wonder what types of roles are available, how much you can expect to earn as a writer or if you need a degree to get hired.
We’ve included the answers to these questions and more in this detailed guide.
Not all writers have the same roles and responsibilities. It depends on the type of writing career you select. Here’s a quick look at some of the popular writing paths:
- Biographers recount the lives of others.
- Bloggers write blog posts on particular topics.
- Content writers are versatile writers who can cover many topics.
- Copywriters specialize in written content intended to sell a product or service.
- Grant writers compose research proposals to request grant funds from governmental and private agencies.
- Novelists write fiction books.
- Playwrights produce scripts used in theatrical productions.
- Speechwriters create speeches delivered by others.
- Screenwriters write scripts for movies and television shows.
- Technical writers create documents that simplify complex concepts.
Writers work in many industries, but the top employers are in the information, performing arts and spectator sports, religious, grant-making, civic, scientific and technical services sectors, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The average annual salary for writers is $63,200, which is equivalent to $30.39 per hour. The amount you earn will depend on the industry you work in. Here’s a quick look at the average salary for writers working in the top industries:
- Information: $60,440
- Performing arts and spectator sports: $70,990
- Religious, grantmaking and civic organizations: $68,560
- Scientific and technical services: $63,920
If you plan to work as a salaried writer in a professional setting, your employer may require a bachelor’s degree in English or communication. A degree in journalism, creative writing or technical writing will also suffice.
What if you already have a degree and your major isn’t related to writing? You may still get hired if your writing skills are up to par. However, most employers will want to see a well-rounded portfolio that showcases your skills.
Seeking a career as a freelance writer? You can land clients even if you don’t have a bachelor’s degree. In fact, most may not inquire about your educational background. Their concern is that you can deliver high-quality content that resonates with their target market. You can demonstrate your abilities through a portfolio that includes samples of work that are comparable to what the client is searching for.
The average growth rate for writers is not expected to change through 2028, notes the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, that doesn’t mean there won’t be jobs — expect stiff competition for salaried writing positions.
Freelancing gives you more freedom to identify hidden opportunities in both the digital and print media sectors. You can also reach out to prospects who may not know they need a writer and convince them that you can add value to their company.
Tips for Becoming a Writer
Keep these tips in mind as you pursue a career as a writer.
Earn Your Degree
By earning your bachelor’s degree in English, communications or another related field, you can set yourself apart from the competition as you pursue salaried writing jobs. During your studies, you will also have the opportunity to build a portfolio and solicit candid feedback from instructors and peers. This means you will have an ample amount of time to rework the content until it shines and is ready to be presented to prospective employers.
Explore Online Courses
If you’re crunched for time or want to break into the industry soon as a freelance writer, consider an online course. You can acquire advanced knowledge and learn best practices for freelance writers in just weeks. Some classes will show you how to attract and land top clients with hefty budgets for writers.
Already enrolled in a degree program? Online courses are also a great way to enhance your knowledge on critical topics taught in the classroom.
Polish Your Portfolio
It’s not enough to create a portfolio and forget about it until a prospective employer or client asks to take a peek. You should always be updating it with new content. As you finish projects, request permission to include it in your portfolio and remove items that are dated or no longer relevant to the industries you’re serving.
Connect with Other Writers
Writing can be stressful. It’s ideal to have a group of colleagues in your corner who can encourage you when the going gets tough. You can also bounce ideas off your network of writer buddies if you’re stuck on a particular piece. Other writers can also help you land opportunities that they don’t have the bandwidth or background to handle.
The best writers produce some form of written content each day. Even if it’s just a journal entry with a quick recollection of your thoughts, you’ll sharpen your skills each time you write.
Best Universities for Becoming a Writer
Ready to beef up your writing chops and prepare for an exciting career? Consider these online writing degree programs to gain the tools needed to break into the workforce as a professional writer.
1. University of Colorado Denver
The University of Colorado Denver offers an online bachelor's degree in writing, rhetoric and technology. The program dives into the mechanics of academic writing, creative writing, digital production or journalism. When you graduate, you’ll be prepared to enter the field as a content writer, professional writer, technical writer or web content manager.
2. Indiana University East
Do you already have at least 60 credit hours from an accredited college or university? Consider an online Bachelor of Arts in english, technical and professional writing. It’s a degree completion program that will help you turn your passion for writing into a profitable career.
Courses Related to Becoming a Writer
If an online degree isn’t in your future plans, consider these writing courses. They are an ideal way to learn the basics of professional writing and set the stage for a profitable career.
1. Essential Techniques to be a Professional Writer
Whether you’re seeking a career as a freelance writer or professional writer in a business setting, consider this course. It teaches the fundamentals of writing for a living and dives into technical aspects you should master to write content that shines. The class entails 9 modules:
- The Basics
- Developing Your Writing Style
- Set a Positive Tone
- Be Concise
- Eliminating Confusion
- Using the Right Punctuation
- Mini Case Study: Your Competitor’s Misfortune
- Techniques for Technical Writing
- Tools for the Trade
Sign up today for only $9.99. You will have lifetime access to 92 lectures, 9 articles and case studies.
2. Advanced Writing Strategies for Immediate Improvement
Position yourself for a successful career as an academic or professional writer. Consider this popular course from Udemy that includes 5.5 hours of on-demand video lectures and 40 downloadable resources. It caters to students and professionals who want to improve their formal writing skills. The class is divided into 5 components:
- Process Essay Writing Strategies
- Cause and Effect Essay Writing Strategies
- Argument Essay Writing Strategies Part 1
- Argument Essay Writing Strategies Part 2
- GRE Evaluation Essay Writing Strategies
When you reach the finish line, you will know how to communicate your thoughts more effectively and draft stellar essays in record time. Register today to save 71% on the enrollment fee.
Start Preparing for a Career as a Writer Today
Now’s the perfect time to start preparing for a career as a writer. Consider a degree program or course from our list of top recommendations to jumpstart your journey. Before you know it, you will be working as a professional or freelance writer and earning a comfortable salary.
Southern New Hampshire University Online
SNHU Online Offers:
- Flexible schedules
- Affordable tuition
- Online tutoring
- Access to electronic research materials
- Specialized academic advising
- Supportive online community