Do you journal every day without fail? Is story-writing your passion? In today’s competitive job market, skills that come from good writing are indispensable. The advantage of a career interest as broad as writing is that you can tailor your specific “genre;” a side hobby of programming, a knack for business, or even an Instagram addiction can all factor in building your own niche in the writing industry. The other side of the story, of course, is that making a career from writing also requires packaging and selling your writing to whoever will either publish or read it.
Give these 10 fresh new writing jobs a read, and learn how to tailor your love of writing to the right audience and turn it into a fully-fledged career.
1. Technical Writer
When it comes to job hunting, the word “specialization” is tossed around as if it’s best to ditch all your existing hobbies and devote 10 hours a day to a single specific skill. Luckily, this is largely a myth, especially when it comes to the writing world. If you’re a dedicated English major and starting to fear that the extra hours you spent on a sidelined engineering passion were a waste of time, fear no more: your calling might be technical writing. As the field of technological development becomes more complicated and moves further from the realm of public understanding, innovators and inventors need skilled writers to explain technological products and scientific concepts. Tech writing demands those with excellent communication skills who can elucidate a detailed process in a way that is clear and concise for a general readership. “These are people who can translate really complex scientific concepts and write very clearly about them for specific audiences and produce writing in, typically, a shorter amount of time than a paper, said A-J Aronstein, Associate Dean of Beyond Barnard, Barnard College’s career counseling office. “One’s capacity to navigate both highly technical science themes and write in a clear voice can be highly valued.”
This one’s for the grammar nazis who can’t help but spam their text message exchanges with *you’re’s. Publishing companies receive countless manuscripts every day; it is no surprise that they are in desperate need of enthusiastic grammarians. A copy-editors job is to correct grammar, syntax, punctuation, spelling, and hone the author’s argument and style without fundamentally changing the main concepts of the work. You are the final person the book goes through before publication. “You’re checking punctuation, spelling, grammar, and generally how the thing works,” said Rio Santisteban-Edwards, a former freelance copy editor who now works as a Department Assistant at Barnard College. “If you’re already voracious reader, copy editing jobs are an ideal excuse to read all day–you could be assigned to read anything from novels, essays, and short fiction to textbooks, nonfiction, or academic papers. “
3. Sponsored Content Writer
We’ve all seen it: you’re reading an article about a brand or company that seems strangely positive for an impartial publication. Scrolling to the bottom of the page, you see that the article is sponsored by that company. (We’re looking at you, all those Buzzfeed “which of these totally affordable and worthwhile products are you?” quizzes.) Companies paying for an ad next to the general content of a publication or news source used to be standard practice for media advertising. Sponsored content, on the other hand, is when advertisers pay for an article about their product to be written by a staff or freelance writer and included alongside the main content. “The pitch for publications is: We hire the writers, and it will look to ‘Advertiser X’ that we’re writing about you,” Aronstein said. “To the average reader, not only is it well written, because the content writers write in the voice of the publication, but it’s surrounded by content that supports the exclusivity of the brand.” This form of advertising is becoming the preferred method of reaching consumers for good reason: advertisers want the skills of writers and journalists to help promote their products.
4. Freelance Journalist
Freelance writing encompasses a wide range of different subject areas, so the advantage is you can pick and choose what genres appeal to you or try your hand with a wide variety. In terms of journalism, you’ve probably heard that media publications are moving towards hiring less staff writers and using more freelance work. “Freelancing is like an audition. You have to become a student of publications, to see what they cover and what’s not covered. You have to see what’s falling between the cracks and how you can fill that crack,” said Emily Brennan, an editor in the Culture section of the New York Times. Keep in mind that while freelance writing offers the freedom of not having to deal with an overbearing boss or critical supervisor, it demands the constant hustle of chasing job openings. You’ll be selling your writing skills as the product to potential employers, which demands active presence online and maintaining a professional network.
5. Dictionary Entry Writer
No, you won’t just be browsing aimlessly through random words and their definitions (aardvark, aardwolf, aaronic…) As the English language absorbs pop culture terms or words born on Twitter, online dictionaries need young writers familiar with current day culture to update their entries. Picture being paid to write a formal definition of “yeet” or “weird flex but ok.” “At one point, I got assigned a bunch of different K Pop groups and I had to do a deep dive on Twitter to understand who they were,” Santisteban-Edwards said of her former job writing for Dictionary.com. Sounds like fun, right? With more of these new words popping up every day, your job could be keeping your finger on the pulse of trendy terms.
6. Podcast/Radio Writer
Just because you want to write, doesn’t mean your writing has to be physically read straight off the page. The rise of what’s broadly called “new media” has sparked the birth of a whole set of new careers in writing content that can be read on a podcast, radio or TV program, or online broadcast. “I think there is demand for writers who create content for audio. I’ve seen an uptick in interest for it,” Aronstein said. Going into the field of audio also has its benefits if you have a knack for related parts of the industry, like audio engineering or programming. For those writers who are also natural born promoters, audio and visual media also offers the chance to perform one’s own work, whether as a TV reporter or the voice of a podcast.
7. Academic Fellowships
Are you one of the few among us who actively participated in the mandatory Odyssey discussion and actually got some (dare I say it) enjoyment out of writing academic essays? If you’re looking at a standard grad school path to an academic profession, consider looking around for an academic fellowship in a university English department. “This role felt like an opportunity to get an inside look at what it means to be in academia, what the inside of a department looks like,” said Nia Judelson, a Barnard graduate with a B.A. in English, of her work as a Drew English fellow at Barnard after graduating. “I can build stronger connections with professors who have mentored me both in an academic sense and a creative writing sense to see what feels right, what work I can envision myself doing, and then giving me the space to experiment within that and try out doing more unstructured creative writing, as well as academic research.” For those looking at grad school but not yet ready to start the application process right after college, an academic fellowship is an open option.
8. Social Media Writer
The advent of the “tech age” has left companies and brands scrambling to regain their footing in the rapidly developing area of social media marketing. That’s where young writers like you come in. College students have a natural understanding of the workings of social media and online communication that the corporate sphere is desperate to tap into, and jobs writing social media posts or handling brand outreach are booming. “Marketing firms and branding firms need copywriters and social media posts. They want young people who speak in that casual way,” Brennan said. As a social media writer, you could be doing anything from writing tweets to managing a Facebook page to doing research on competitor brands. While writing captions for your Instagram posts isn’t the same thing as composing an essay or story, you’ll learn how to condense ideas into a short and concise statement, a valuable skill for any aspiring writer.
9. Blog Writer
Imagine being able to make a career about the real passions you dedicate yourself to on a daily basis. A blog-writing job can be just that, but remember – it requires being on the ball with social media and maintaining a strong professional network. Writing online differs greatly from writing for a traditional college publication, for instance. “You have to recognize that the attention span of an online reader is very low,” said Michelle Young, chief editor and owner of Untapped New York, an online publication focused on culture, events, and art in New York City. “You need to get to the point of this article in the second sentence max, otherwise you will lose that person. The other thing is going to be a strong visual presentation. You need a way to keep the reader engaged.” You’ll also need to optimize your content for search engines like Google so that you generate more search clicks. The good part is there’s also a wealth of information out there on how to successfully grow a blog and use it to advertise writing, so putting in research will be a breeze.
10. Travel Writer
It sounds too good to be true: get paid to travel to exciting new places— and all you have to do is write about the experience! Now, a reality check: travel writing for established publications and magazines has been subject to the same wildly changing job market as many of the other professions on this list. It’s a smart idea to get comfortable pitching stories to sources online and sending out plenty of emails to reach out to editors. “Don’t hesitate to pitch your stuff. As long as the content is original and cool and unique, they were happy to publish it. Maintain good relationships with people in the field,” Young said. In the slim case that you’re based in one city and not yet jumping to exotic locations every week, practice keeping in touch with goings on about town. Keep track of events in the city, go out to eat at the newest restaurants, and look out for local festivals and fairs. If you’re feeling so inclined, write your experience up into an article and try pitching it to a local publication–it’ll be good practice in covering a specific cultural scene.