One of the biggest advantages of being a writer is that you don’t actually need to have any serious diplomas to your name. All you need is a few articles that you can show prospective clients and you’re well on your way to building up a career.
Of course, it isn’t quite that easy. You see, there is one big problem with content writing and that is that there is much competition out that. And though this might be the golden age for writing, you won’t notice any of that if everybody else is taking all the light. For that reason, you have to lift yourself above the dross, into the shining sun. Only then will you turn your dabbling at the written word into something that will make you serious money.
So how do you do that? I’m glad you asked.
Pay attention to the critiques of your teachers
When you’re a student you have something that most writers don’t get that much of – direct critical feedback. Now, not all feedback is equal. Some of your teachers won’t know what they’re talking about (at least not in terms of the written word) but some will. So pay attention to what they’ve got to say.
The first thing to note is that this means you can’t get defensive. You’ll want to. When anything we do is attacked we have a natural instinct to defend it. Resist that instinct with everything you’ve got. There are three big reasons for this:
- If you’re defending your writing, you’re not focusing on what’s important and that is the opportunity to become a better writer.
- The more vigorously you defend what you’ve written, the less likely people will give constructive criticism the next time.
- Later on, when editors tell you they don’t like something, you have to be able to sit back and listen to what they’ve got to say. If you don’t. If instead, you start defending what you’ve written, then you can be sure they won’t use you again. Editors hate writers who can’t take criticisms.
So listen to what they’ve got to say.
Not sure if it’s actually good advice? Then use what I call the rule of three. The first time you hear it, it’s interesting but it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to take action. If you hear it again from somebody else unrelated, it’s time to get worried. Hear it a third time? Then you’ve got a problem. Take their suggestions on board.
Another good idea is when you find a teacher who knows what they’re talking about, asks if you can rewrite any essays that you’ve written where they have suggestions. The act of going back and forth with a teacher like that really up to your writing game.
Build a portfolio
There are plenty of online locations where you can now host your writing portfolio. So use them. This will make it a great deal easier to share what you’ve written with whatever magazines or websites you get in touch with. In that way, you can give them one or two articles that are directly relevant to what they’re doing and throw in a link to your portfolio, in case they want to see more writing samples. That comes across as far more professional.
Here’s a definite don’t. If you’re going to build your own website, don’t build one with wordpress.com or something similar at the end (yourname.wordpress.com). This comes across as hugely unprofessional. ‘What’, they’re going to think, you’re not even serious enough to register an actual domain for a few dollars? Then why should we take you seriously?’ Yes, people are judgmental. No, they shouldn’t pay attention to stuff like that. But you can’t change the world through wishful thinking. Better to play by the rules as they’re written.
Rejection is part of the game
When you start writing online you’ll get rejected. A lot. Don’t take it personally and don’t let it discourage you. Instead, see each of those rejections as a stepping stone. It’s something that you have to go through before you can write for a living – be it for a top end newspaper or a site that pays for college essay writing.
For that reason, it’s important that you change your focus. You have to come to see this as part of what you’re doing. Don’t take the rejections personally. Instead, see them as badges of pride. A good piece of advice is to set a goal to get so many rejection letters within the period of a year. If you set a goal like that, it forces you to keep trying. And when you keep going for it, you’ll be far more likely to actually get a real opportunity.
Stick with it
To build writing into a career takes time. First of all, you’ll need to make connections. You’ll have to find clients who trust you and who will come to you when they need writing done. That’s going to take time (and you’ll probably make your way through a whole bunch of clients before you get there).
What’s more, you’re going to have to get a lot better than you are right now. Sure, you’re probably pretty good, but you’ll need to be a lot better than that. And the only way you can do that is by writing. You need to write, and write, and write. Take it from me. I thought I was a pretty decent writer when I started writing professionally. Now, when I read back some of the stuff I wrote when I started out, it makes my toes curl. It is that bad.
Honestly, I can’t understand how anybody even hired me.
To get from there to here I had to write about a million words (that’s not an exaggeration). And yeah, that probably did take me 10,000 hours. And that means you have to write – a lot. So stop reading articles like this and get out there! Because if you ever want to be at the top, you have to climb up there. And as a writer, you do that with the tips of your fingers.