7 Unbelievable Facts About Becoming a Professional Writer

7 Unbelievable Facts About Becoming a Professional Writer

Do you aspire to be a professional writer?

Perhaps you aspire to be a full-time writer. Perhaps you’d like to work as a freelance writer and set your own hours to accommodate family life or caring responsibilities.

A career as a professional writer can be extremely rewarding.

However, you must be aware of some critical facts about what to do and what to expect on your journey. Here are seven things to remember whether you’re just starting out in professional writing or you’ve already landed some freelance writing jobs.

1. You’re In Control of Your Success

This is a difficult truth to accept.

You may believe that being a successful writer is primarily a matter of luck. You may believe that your writing career is controlled by gatekeepers such as publishers, agents, and editors.

However, as a professional writer, you have complete control.

For example, if you want more work, you don’t have to sit back and wait for it to come to you. You can send great pitches to editors, network with prospects and fellow writers, and apply for more writing jobs.

If you want to make more money, you don’t have to wait for your boss to give you a raise or a promotion. You have the option of raising your rates or seeking out higher-paying clients. As a new writer, you get to define your own definition of success.

Perhaps “success” is defined as a six-figure income (which is entirely attainable). Perhaps it means earning a good hourly wage so that you can work 4 – 5 hours a day and still spend time with your children.

That kind of power can be unsettling.

What if your company fails despite your best efforts?

The advantage of working as a professional writer is that you are unlikely to have spent a lot of money on your endeavor. At most, you may have purchased a laptop and some office supplies.

If things do not work out, you will not go bankrupt.


2. You Are Not Required to Write Books

What is the job of a professional writer?

You might imagine someone with a whole shelf of best-selling books that they’ve written. Perhaps you fantasize about writing novels, short stories, or nonfiction books that sell well on Amazon or make the New York Times bestseller list.

However, many professional writers do not write books.

They create website copy, technical manuals, how-to articles, news reports, press releases, and podcast scripts, among other things. a variety of things that aren’t books at all

So, what do you call a professional writer?

Not always a “author” or “novelist.”

You could also work as a copywriter, content writer, blogger, ghostwriter, SEO writer, or even a screenwriter.

If you want complete control, you could work as a freelancer, or you could work for a company as a full-time employed writer if you prefer the security of a steady salary.

You can, of course, write books if you want to. However, keep in mind that many book authors do not make a living from their work. Even well-known authors frequently have a second job, such as teaching creative writing.

So it’s fine if you can’t imagine writing 50,000 words or more on a single project. You are not required to.

The vast majority of professional writers work on much shorter pieces.


3. You Don’t Need a Bachelor’s Degree

How does one go about becoming a professional writer?

Some people (and even some career counselors) may advise you to start by earning a relevant degree, such as journalism, communication studies, or creative writing.

But the truth is…

Most writing jobs do not require a degree. It could give you an advantage in certain situations, especially if you don’t yet have years of experience or proven writing skills to draw on. It is, however, not required.

If you don’t want to spend years and thousands of dollars on a writing-related degree, don’t do it. Instead, work on honing your skills and applying for writing jobs.

As an undergraduate, I majored in English Literature before pursuing a Master’s degree in Creative Writing.

When applying for writing jobs, I almost never mention these. My clients only care about how well I write.

Instead of pursuing a new degree, concentrate on developing excellent samples for your writing portfolio that will impress potential clients. Putting these together will be much faster, less expensive, and far more effective.


4. You Can’t Take Your Writing Seriously.

I’ll be completely honest here. When I took my first steps toward becoming a professional writer, I had to get over myself a little.

In my early twenties, like many aspiring writers, I assumed that “good writing” was reserved for literary novels. I fantasized about champagne, book launches, and glowing literary magazine reviews.

I’d never heard of business writing or content writing.

When I started making money writing, all of that vanished.

You can’t be snobbish as a professional writer. You discover that “good writing” is all about context.

A great piece of technical writing will not be filled with flowery metaphors. It will be clear and precise. A great piece of ghostwriting will not help you develop your own writing voice. It will have the exact same tone as your client’s voice.

Another unavoidable reality of working as a professional writer is that your work will be edited and changed by others.

You may also be asked to make changes: it’s difficult to know exactly what a client wants, especially when working with them for the first time. The first draft you submit may be significantly altered by the time it is published.

You may not agree with all of the changes, but you must be able to separate yourself from your work.

Sure, you can speak up if you believe a change isn’t working… However, if you make a big deal out of every edit, you’ll quickly lose a client.

Some types of writing, such as copywriting and ghostwriting, do not include your name on the final product. You might not even be able to tell them you wrote it.

The money is your reward, not the glory.


5. You Have the Potential to Make a Lot of Money

What does a professional writer earn?

You may be concerned that even a successful writer must work long hours for little pay, especially if you’ve looked into writing jobs that pay as little as $0.02 or $0.03 per word. However, there are many six-figure writers out there.

When I first started freelancing, well over a decade ago, I was content with a salary of $25 per hour – and I spent a lot of unpaid time trying to find clients. These days, I aim for $80 – $100 per hour, and I rarely have to look for new work. I have a lot of great clients who want to work with me again and again.

Professional writer jobs are well compensated.

It may take some time to find the best writing jobs (and some types of writing pay significantly more than others), but if you’re persistent, you’ll find plenty of opportunities.

If you’ve been writing professionally for a while, make sure to keep raising your rates. You’re constantly improving your skills and experience, which should be reflected in your professional writer salary.

Don’t be put off from writing for a living because you believe it will entail working long hours for little pay. You can achieve your financial goals if you are deliberate and proactive in your search for well-paying gigs.


6. You Must Have Excellent Time Management and Organizational Skills

This is another difficult truth that some aspiring writers struggle with.

Whether you work as a solo freelancer or as part of a writing team, you must be able to manage your time effectively.

If you procrastinate for hours before finally writing a few sentences, you must change your habits before you can succeed in professional writing.

Freelancers must deal with issues such as:

  • Juggling multiple clients and writing jobs, each with its own set of deadlines and requirements.
  • Sitting down to write even when you’re not feeling inspired or motivated.
  • Finishing your first draft in a timely manner so that you can meet deadlines even if something unexpected occurs.
  • Setting expectations with family and friends so that you can focus on your work during the day.
  • Updating your website and/or social media accounts so that new clients can easily find your services.
  • Setting limits on your work time so that you have enough downtime to rest and recharge.

Depending on the type of writing you do, you may also need to learn SEO (search engine optimization) or how to format posts in WordPress.

7. You Can Still Include Your Own Work

What if you want to earn money freelancing while also doing your own writing?

Perhaps you blog as a hobby, are working on a collection of short stories, or are enrolled in a creative writing class. Or you could be writing something for a small group of friends, such as a fanfiction story or a Dungeons & Dragons campaign.

If you work as a freelancer all day, you may be concerned about having enough energy to work on your personal projects.

I’ll be honest: this can be difficult.

It’s especially difficult if you’re caring for young children (or elderly relatives), have a chronic illness, or are going through a particularly hectic period in your life. However, it is possible to balance your personal writing with your professional writing career.

The vast majority of professional writers work flexible hours — they don’t have to be at a desk from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. You could choose to work on your novel from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., then switch to freelancing from 10 a.m. onwards. Alternatively, you could divide your freelance work into four days so that you can devote your Fridays to more creative projects.

It won’t always be easy, and there will be times when your paying work must take precedence. However, many professional writers have side writing projects, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t, either.


The First Steps to Becoming a Professional Writer

Could professional writing be a good fit for you?

Give it a shot!

You don’t have to quit your job and go all-in on the first day. Instead, you could create a simple website or social media page, inform your friends and family that you’re available for freelance work, and work on landing your first clients.

It could be a great way to start a side hustle doing something you enjoy. You could use it to make money while launching a separate online business. You could also decide to turn it into a full-fledged professional writing career.

Whatever path you ultimately choose, now is the time to take the first step.

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