Speaking from experience, trying to land a writing job can be a lonely and frustrating experience. However, once I began the process (and made a few mistakes on the way), the light at the end of the tunnel became clearer — and in the end, I got the job! Here are three tips that helped me achieve my dream. I hope they can help you achieve yours, too.
Polish Your Skills by Taking Online Writing Courses
Even the strongest writers know that they can always improve their writing. They view perfection as something to be pursued, despite knowing that it can never be reached, and this drives them to take inspiration from everything (and everyone) around them.
Having worked with (or alongside) many writers, I’ve found that the most successful are those who keep their skills sharp regardless of how well they’re doing at any given time. I make a similar effort to adapt with the times, and I strongly suggest that you do as I do and take advantage of online writing courses.
The core benefit of online writing courses is that they’re incredibly accessible – you can learn while you’re on the move, at your desk, or on holiday (as long as there’s a reliable internet connection). Now, I’ve fallen foul of some cowboy courses that promise the earth and deliver little more than expensive scraps, so it’s important that you’re discerning.
If you can find a great course, you’ll get superb tips, guidance, and advice, but you’ll also take away the importance of believing in your ability. No matter how much you work on your skills, you’ll always struggle to pick up momentum if you don’t truly believe that you’re a good writer.
Create a Strong Online Portfolio to Showcase Your Work
Each profession has its own unique methods for gauging the quality of your work. One might care the most about the qualifications listed on your CV, while another might pay much more attention to your professional connections or level of experience.
As a writer, it’s your portfolio that reassures employers that you can deliver what they need. If you’re to leave an impression, you must first create an online record of your work so that people can quickly see what you have to offer.
There a number of website platforms designed to help you create an online writing portfolio, and the Journo Portfolio online portfolio designer is one of my favourites. It’s built with simplicity in mind and makes it really easy to create a solid portfolio. Alternatively, if you’re confident enough with technology to build your own website from scratch, you could use the WordPress website platform to create a blog that lets you showcase your work.
Once you have your portfolio website in place, you need to add content to it so that you can demonstrate the quality of your writing. This can be a problem if you’re a new writer, either fresh out of education or seeking to make a career change. If this is the case, you can start blogging on a schedule, and steadily move your best posts across to your portfolio site.
My advice is to pick the industry you want to work in, then mix the following two tactics:
Write about a broad range of topics in a range of styles to show flexibility.
Select a niche area and write extensively about it to prove expertise.
While these are two contrasting ideas (broad and niche), this will show prospective employers that you’re a flexible writer. For instance, you can write some editorials suitable for niche magazines, each one tailored to a different topic. This will make you more employable, and allow you to charge a higher rate for content on your niche topic.
If you have any interest in doing some long-form writing, give it a try: there’s no problem with including unfinished writing in a portfolio, and if you do finish something of novel length, you could even get it published to give you even more credibility (it’s easier than you think — Jericho Writers lists 12 options for getting a book published).
Regardless of the content you prefer, remember to keep working on your portfolio, even when you’re working. After all, you never know what the future will hold.
Use Online Platforms to Advertise Your Availability & Seek Work
Before you began the process of seeking a job as a writer, you likely asked yourself a lot of questions such as “Can I really get paid for writing?”, “Is there really any work out there for writers?”, “Do I have to choose between being either a journalist or author?”, or even “Am I making a mistake?”
When I began my writing career, I asked myself these questions — and while my perspective matured a little (particularly regarding money), they remained on my mind. Do you know what I did to answer them? I searched for work on the right websites, and advertised my work on the correct platforms – it was that simple.
I used LinkedIn, the professional social network, to search for work, taking advantage of the Easy Apply function to go for as many jobs as I could. The benefit of using LinkedIn, as opposed to other sites, is that it’s the most popular platform for jobs – with 590 million active monthly users – and boasts a search function that’s incredibly responsive. You can also set up hashtags and alerts to keep you updated on the availability of particular roles.
In addition, I chose Upwork as my freelance hire platform for advertising my availability. Why? Because it’s designed specifically for freelancers to let employers know they’re out there, and for employers to find freelancers. Now, there is a drawback to using Upwork, but it’s no major reason to be concerned: the site takes a commission from your billed work. Though this isn’t ideal, the sheer number of opportunities that can come your way easily counters this – and using Upwork can get your foot in the door with an employer that might hire you full-time.
While creating an online portfolio, polishing your writing skills, and seeking work in the right places are all great tips for finding work as a writer, they aren’t the only things you can do. You can also send out cold pitches, network with other writers, and even try going through recruitment agencies. There’s no ideal tactic, so try as much as you can — if it’s truly your dream, don’t give up on it. Good luck landing your dream job!