By Kenesha Collins
Since I posted the latest blog, How to Get into Freelance Writing, I’ve gotten some good feedback. It’s also brought to my attention, there are a lot of people that may want to get into writing, but may not know how to get started. I figured I would help by continuing the conversation.
If you want to be a writer, there are several avenues you can take, but the question is what kind of writer do you want to be? If you’re stuck, and don’t know what market to get into, here is some information on writers and their job descriptions to help you get started. I’m not listing all of the different writers out there because this post would be way too lengthy.
If you run a blog and write articles, you are a content writer, but there is more to it than just putting information on the Internet. If you use your blog as an outlet to get your thoughts out there, that’s not content writing. It’s keeping an online diary. Content writers produce articles and blogs on their sites to engage their audiences and provide information. Their blogs are normally “how-to guides” and include a “call-to-action” which motivates their audience to act on a topic.
If you’re looking to enter the field of content writing as a career, most companies will require a degree in English, journalism, or communications. You will need to have a strong understanding of the inner workings of social media and learn to use SEO (search engine optimization) keywords to attract attention, and drive traffic to your website. Graphic design skills are a bonus because you will need to use images your eBooks and/or podcasts.
When I think of copywriting, I think of the advertising and public relations industries. Copywriters create press releases, media kits, and write copy for ads and commercials. The requirements are like that of a content writer, but the copy is shorter and more eye catching. Copywriters also include music and graphics to stand out and promote a service or product.
If you have a head for business, business writing may be perfect for you. You will produce items such as white papers, which are reports that solidify a company’s expertise in their industry. Business writers research and write reports, business and marketing plans, proposals, and emails, and much more. A degree in business or marketing may be required.
Technical writing is a very lucrative, but highly focused type of writing that requires a great deal of knowledge and expertise. For example, if you’ve mastered a software program, you may be called to write instructional guides educating other colleagues on how to use the program. Technical writers do work freelance, but companies are looking for writers with advanced education and skill in their industry. Technical writing requires research, math, design, and training skills. This form of writing requires a degree, certifications, and some jobs may require a master’s degree.
Now onto to my favorite types of writers:
Authors can write nonfiction or fiction, and they can either traditionally or independently publish their books. You do not have to have a degree in English or journalism to write a book, but you do need to have a strong command of the English language. There is a great deal of reading involved to generate ideas. You will also need to educate yourself on things like track changes, editing, and formatting when writing a book. Some authors take additional writing, editing, and publishing courses to increase their knowledge. You will need to also know how to market yourself, build an author platform, and understand SEO to drive traffic to your site. You will need to have some business knowledge because there are budgets, royalties, and contracts involved when becoming an author.
Screenwriters write scripts for television shows, movies, and plays. Screenwriting is an intricate form of writing that takes a lot of skill and practice. Most screenwriters get degrees in English, screenwriting, or journalism, in addition to certifications. If you can’t afford to get a degree in screenwriting, there are programs as well as hundreds of reference books. There is an art to screenwriting, and the formatting is very detailed. Investing in screenwriting software is a good tool to have, but I recommend learning the mechanics of writing and developing a great script first.
To break into the screenwriting field, you must be represented by agent, and there is a lot of competition. It may seem like a long shot to become a screenwriter, but the opportunities are within your grasp. One day, I called the creative director for a MAJOR network on a whim. I will not disclose the name of the network for privacy reasons, but I found her phone number on the network’s website. I called to pitch a television show. She actually called me back the same day! She said I had called the New York office, and I should have called the Los Angeles office, but the fact she took the time out of her busy schedule to call me said a lot about her interest.
The moral of the story is not to get discouraged, and never let an opportunity pass you by.
Copyright © 2020 by Kenesha Collins