When people hear “writing career,” they tend to think of novelists and essayists. But those who love to write have more options beyond becoming the next Dave Eggers or Dorothy Parker. The following six jobs span a variety of industries and specialties—read on to find which role would suit you best.
1. Technical Writer
If you have a knack for distilling complex ideas into plain English, a career in technical writing may be a good fit. Technical writers prepare instruction manuals, how-to guides, documentation, FAQs, and other supporting materials. It might not sound like the most glamorous job, but anyone who’s interested in software, engineering, science, web design and other technical fields will enjoy it.
In addition, technical writers have great job prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for technical writers is expected to grow 10% by 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations.
Most technical writers work full-time. To become one, you need a college degree. Familiarity with a technical subject will improve your odds of getting hired.
Good writers usually make good editors. After all, they’re skilled at developing pitches and writing clear, concise, comprehensible copy. Now, instead of coming up with those ideas and creating that copy themselves, they typically delegate these tasks to a team of writers and then refine the end project.
Editors work in a variety of industries, companies and roles. The most well-known is the magazine editor; however, you could be a blog editor for a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company or a developmental editor at a publishing house.
While getting a B.A. in communications, media, or journalism isn’t necessary, it can be helpful for breaking into the editing world.
3. Magazine Writer
While the movies may give the impression that magazine writers are all beautiful women named Andy (see Devil Wears Prada and How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days) who dislike their bosses, there are a ton of different paths magazine writers can take. Yes, you could work at a traditional monthly print publication, producing stories for press on a regular cadence. But you could also write three articles per day for an online magazine.
Furthermore, your options aren’t limited to fashion or lifestyle publications. Almost every niche—from science and medicine to politics and humor—has at least one magazine. Some have hundreds.
What did Devil Wears Prada get right? The magazine journalism world is fairly competitive and often requires a couple of years in a low-paying job at the beginning of your career.
4. News Reporter
If you love asking questions, digging into the details and crafting narratives, becoming a news reporter will probably suit you.
Writing for a news outlet has a lot of pros: It’s normally fast-paced and dynamic. You may also get the opportunity to travel, interview prominent or interesting people, and cover huge stories. But while many writers are drawn to reporting, there are a couple downsides.
With the decline of print journalism, jobs are becoming scarcer. Some reporters take jobs at local newspapers out of necessity—while they may be dreaming of covering the crime beat in Miami. Reporters also tend to make relatively low salaries. Finally, news reporting isn’t a 9 to 5 job. Maybe you need to stay late to finish up a timely story, work on the weekends to hit your deadline for a big piece, or start early to interview a source with a jam-packed schedule.
While getting a journalism degree will help you get your foot in the door, internships and clips are vastly more important. Editors are looking for proof you can pick out a compelling story, get strong quotes, write a solid, objective article and meet your deadlines.
5. Social Media Manager
Ten years ago, the idea of using social media to market a business would have sounded silly. These days, businesses are scrambling to hire professionals to manage their social networks. In addition to popular channels like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn and Twitter, many organizations also incorporate Quora, Vine, Slack and more into their strategy.
Writers are a strong fit for social media positions. Much of it requires writing: infographic copy, tweets, Facebook captions, LinkedIn posts and so forth. Plus, this work is highly creative. Writing helps you strengthen your creative muscle—and you’ll put it to good use in this role.
Because it’s so new, a traditional career path doesn’t exist. Your best bet is maintaining active profiles on all of the main platforms (employers will definitely check out your accounts!) Getting freelance social media experience will also make you a far more attractive candidate, even if you’ve only managed the accounts of a small company.
The independent blog world is oversaturated right now, meaning the chance of becoming successful enough to pay all of your bills with revenue from your own blog is relatively low.
But bloggers themselves can thrive by writing for third parties. To give you an idea, you could write blog posts for a software company in Florida, a recruiting firm in Canada, or an online cosmetics brand
Although these gigs might not bring most people fame or fortune, they’re ideal if you enjoy brainstorming ideas and using content to drive business goals.
The first step to building your writing career is to grab whatever writing opportunities you can find. Check out the writing jobs that are hiring today.