how can i become a writer Copify

How can I become a writer? Here’s 8 steps to start you off…

Writing has long been a sought-after career path, but with so many romanticised notions of the writer as an artist, it can be hard to know where to begin. If you’ve been furiously Googling ‘how can I become a writer’, then we hate to disappoint, but there’s no right or wrong route to becoming a writer. Then again, these steps can help you consider your options when you’re starting out on your journey.

1. Keep writing

If you want to become a writer, you need to start with the most obvious step of all: write! Although it seems simple, writing regularly in your spare time is essential to improving your skills. As the saying goes: “Don’t get discouraged. Instead, get busy.”

2. Discover writing as a hobby

Since the proliferation of the internet, there have never been more options when it comes to getting involved in writing. Whether your experience comes from traditional journalling or starting your own blog, there are countless sites out there which can help.

how can I become a writer Copify 3A huge range of free blogging platforms give you the chance to share your thoughts with the world at the click of a button, so there’s no excuse for lacking an online presence. When first starting out, write about things you’re passionate about, whether that’s fashion, music, film or sport, so that writing doesn’t become a chore before you’ve even begun.

Because content is becoming increasingly digitised, social media is also a great place to showcase your abilities and grow your network. Reaching out to other writers will provide you with both support and useful connections for the future.

Make sure you keep your personal and professional accounts separate though and check your privacy settings before posting something you’d rather potential employers didn’t see.

3. Get into the habit

Building a writing routine into your everyday life is just as essential as the writing itself. Your brand-new blog isn’t going to be much use if you only update it once a year, so writing a small amount each day can help you be more consistent. Even if your starting point is just 100 words a day, you can gradually increase this number to suit your own pace.

Not only does writing everyday hone your skills, you will also develop valuable time management strategies and the ability to stay focused over longer periods of time.

Struggling to organise your other commitments around your writing? Why not check out the daily routines of some of history’s most renowned scribes for inspiration?

4. Specialise

Now that you’re in the habit of writing as a hobby, it’s time to think about what kind of writer you’d like to be professionally. Writing as a career can be split up into a variety of sub-groups; while most grow up dreaming of being authors or journalists, have you ever considered looking into copywriting, ghost writing or technical writing?

Once you have decided on a more specific pathway, you can practise writing towards your chosen role and start looking at gaining relevant experience which may help you find paid work.

5. Consider your education

How can I become a writer Copify 4Unlike many other professions, being a writer is more about the skills you have, rather than the qualifications you hold. Saying this, having a degree under your belt often helps to open doors. Related courses to writing such as journalism, English, advertising, or media are popular choices, but having a degree in any field can be an advantage, so choosing to study a subject you love is the most important thing.

Some types of writing such as technical, scientific, or medical will require you to have a background in specific fields, making these degrees preferable to typical humanities courses.

If your school days are long in the past, or you’re wanting to quit your current job and focus on a career in writing, don’t fret: there are plenty of writing courses out there. Again, you don’t need to have attended a course to succeed, but, as they are often taught by industry experts, you could glean some valuable knowledge – not to mention making new contacts.

6. Build up a portfolio

All the writing you’ve done in your spare time can be put together as a portfolio and shown to employers, whether online or as a printed version.

Creating a website portfolio using a site such as Contently and Clippings.me can be really beneficial for a writer as all your work is easily accessible and can be associated with your name. However, it’s important to note that your portfolio shouldn’t include everything you’ve ever written, especially those stories you wrote back when you were 13. Keep it relevant to the role you’re working towards and updated with your best work from the last few years.

Despite the importance of an online presence, don’t underestimate the impact of printing off samples of your work to take to interviews. This can illustrate your dedication to your career and the care you take with your work.

7. Get professional experience

how can I become a writer Copify 2Writing for your blog or student newspaper is a great way to get started, but professional writing experience will really stand out on your CV. Internships and work placements are great ways to do this and can be taken alongside your studies or for longer periods during the summer. Although some placements are unpaid, they can be helpful in getting you started before better positions become available.

8. Find paid work

After going through all these steps, you’re probably ready to consider applying for a real job as a writer. Although the world of writing is very competitive, with a great portfolio, a proven track record and – most importantly – a real passion towards your chosen career path, your chances of being hired are significantly increased.

You could also choose the path of the freelance writer, which is considerably more difficult at the beginning when you lack contacts. Building up a reputation and a client base takes time and it could be a long while before you start earning enough money to live on. If you’re determined to write on a freelance basis, consider doing this alongside your current job before you drop everything, and gradually come to a point where you can write full-time.

Writing can be an incredibly rewarding career choice but getting started takes a lot of self-motivation and patience. Eventually, all your hard work will pay off and the feeling of having succeeded will be all the more satisfying.

 

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What is ghost writing? We peek behind the mask…

While horror is a keystone literary genre, the term ‘ghost writing’ doesn’t actually mean writing about vampires, werewolves and assorted other ghouls.

Instead, it actually denotes the practice of writing copy without being credited for your work.

But why would anyone do that, you might ask?

What is ghost writing?

what is ghost writing CopifyGhost writing is an effective way for businesses or individuals to commission content. The copy is written by a writer but it is officially credited as the work of the person who commissioned it. It is a phrase often associated with celebrity autobiographies, but ghost writing is an all-encompassing term which takes in a wide range of literary forms.

Ghost writing can include anything from press releases and business copy to blog posts and screenplays. Even politicians use ghost writers. Remember JFK’s famous ‘ask not what your country can do for you?’ inauguration speech? The words were actually written by presidential adviser Ted Sorensen.

The practice is beneficial for both the commissioner and the writer, who can find themselves covering a range of different topics, meeting a variety of interesting people and being paid handsomely.

Who needs ghost writing?

Ghost writing can be a viable and necessary option for a range of businesses and influencers. For example, a social media influencer whose platform has grown too large to keep up with demand for content may use ghost writing to provide their audience with regular and engaging content that they may not have been able to produce themselves as frequently. A growing business which doesn’t have the time or experience to create a high quantity of quality copy may also need a ghost writer.

In the era of social media where demand for fast content is higher than ever, ghost writing is becoming more and more important. Ghost blogging is now a viable career path, as is ghost writing for social media accounts. Did you really think your favourite celebrity was typing out those tweets herself?

Is ghost writing always a solo effort?

what is ghost writing Copify 4

You may be wondering how ghost writing can be produced on a subject or area where the writer is not an expert, but this problem is solved simply, through effective communication and research. The writer is expected to work in conjunction with an expert or an individual who has a story to tell but lacks the skill or the time to adequately present it in an accessible way.

Is ghost writing considered ethical?

Cast your mind back to December 2014, when news headlines were dominated with the ‘scandal’ that social media influencer Zoella, real name Zoe Sugg, used a ghost writer, Siobhan Curham, for her debut novel ‘Girl Online’. This revelation placed Sugg under serious media scrutiny. Sugg’s fans initially felt cheated and deceived by Sugg’s use of a ghost writer, which begs the question: is ghost writing ethical?

While some readers may have felt they had been falsely sold the novel, the general consensus eventually supported Sugg’s use of a ghost writer as the storyline and the ideas put across in the book were still Sugg’s – it’s just that the use of Curham helped deliver the narrative in a more appealing manner.

Sugg went on to have an additional two bestsellers, indicating readers’ support of both her and her use of a ghost writer.

Far from being viewed as a moral grey area, ghost writing is actually considered to be the most financially lucrative form of freelance writing.

Famous ghost writers

We know what you might be thinking – if a ghost writer operates in the background, how can there be any famous ghost writers? Well, some practitioners have become so successful in the art that their name has become as equally valued as the client they are writing for. Professional ghost writer Andrew Crofts’ book ‘Confessions of a Ghost Writer’ was marketed as a tell-all book offering an insight into his glamorous ghost writing career. An important lesson to learn from Crofts’ book is that ghost writing is a challenging yet rewarding medium of writing.

As Crofts says: “I could stick my nose into everyone else’s business and ask all the impertinent questions I wanted to. At the same time, I could also live the pleasant life of a writer.”

Qualifications needed for ghost writing

What is ghost writing Copify 5As with all forms of writing, you don’t necessarily need a specific degree or qualification to become a ghost writer – it’s more about your skill as a writer and your ability to tell an interesting and cohesive story. Saying that, a BA degree is often considered useful, and, for some organisations, necessary, to become a professional writer. Degrees including journalism, English and history are considered particularly helpful for ghost writing as they provide academic proof that a ghost writer can research effectively then display the found information in a concise and comprehensive format. While some dedicated online courses aim to teach ghost writing, these are not always necessary as employers and clients may find themselves swayed by a strong portfolio of writing work.

Is ghost writing the career for you?

Ghost writing is considered more financially lucrative than other freelance writing jobs and, while it’s becoming harder to carve out a career in newspaper journalism, for example, it’s a growing profession, partly due to the increase in self and electronic publishing.

But that’s not to say ghost writing is an easy career. It will take time for you to build up a client base and gain trust. Ghost writing is also a career that requires humility as you sign over legal credit to your work, with specific terms being negotiated in a contract. Ghost writing is not the career for someone looking to receive widespread acclaim or fame, but it is ideal for those who can demonstrate strong communication skills and a passion for writing.

 

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How does freelance writing work?

As the internet has become more and more accessible, and freelancers have more tools at their disposal, freelance writing has grown in popularity as a career choice. However, the very idea of someone sitting behind their laptop each day simply writing words and getting paid money to do so may sound absurd to many.

How do freelance writers even find work? Who pays them? How much do they get paid? And how do I get involved? These are all very natural questions to have about the life of a freelance writer. So this post should hopefully clear up most of your questions if you’ve been wondering how does freelance writing work.

Firstly, what even is freelance writing?

how does freelance writing work CopifyIn its most basic state, freelance writing is somebody getting paid to write money for a client who needs some words written. That is it. A freelance writer does not necessarily have to be in any location or write about anything specific. As long as somebody is happy to pay them for their words, then they are a freelance writer. They will have a direct relationship between themselves and the client they are writing for.

What sorts of things to freelance writers write about?

Generally speaking, freelance writers could write about absolutely anything. However, the types of writing that freelancers generally perform falls into the following categories:

  • Blog posts
  • Web page content
  • Sales pages
  • Product descriptions
  • Press releases
  • Email marketing
  • Articles
  • How-to guides
  • Reviews

These categories are not necessarily all-inclusive but probably cover most of the work freelance writers do. This article from Makeaivingwriting.com recently looked into top freelance writers’ predictions for 2018. It appears that 2018 will be an exciting year for the industry as new types of content are becoming desirable. Such as the “position zero” content and writing for voice search results.

Now, if you want to know what sorts of topics freelance writers cover, then this article simply won’t be long enough. Within the category of product descriptions alone, everything is sold online nowadays from garden equipment to mortgages and from cakes to intercontinental missiles.

However, what you generally find is that freelance writers will find themselves a few niches and then become experts on those topics. Clients looking for work then know that certain writers are good to hire because they are dedicated to and knowledgable about those industries.

How does the payment process of freelance writing work?

how does freelance writing work Copify Freelance writers are effectively self-employed, just like any other small business owner. Except that their business is their writing ability and their office is wherever they choose. As such, they need to handle payments themselves and in whatever way is most suitable for them. Online money transfers directly to a bank account or to a PayPal account are popular choices.

Because there is no exchange of a physical product or tangible service, the payment process can be different to other jobs. In much the same way a builder doesn’t want to spend weeks building a house only to then not get paid, a freelance writer does not want to sacrifice hours of their time only to then not get paid either. Many freelance writers will, therefore, expect payment before work commences or at certain milestones throughout a project.

How do freelance writers and clients find each other?

As the internet has grown, more online resources and marketplaces have become available. As such, the market for freelance writing has begun to thrive. This makes the internet the most common place where clients and writers find each other. Much the same as how customers initiate any sort of purchase, it all begins with a Google search.

Freelance writers will usually have an online profile which allows them to showcase their talents and their work. Alternatively, clients themselves will post work on job boards, where writers then find the sort of work that they’d like to do and create a proposal for the client. Copify is just one example of a writing marketplace that brings passionate freelance writers together with clients who are looking for their services.

Other than this, freelance writers and clients can also find each other without the help of the internet as well. Referrals within the copywriting industry are common, as clients like to choose writers who come recommended from others.

How much do freelance writers get paid?

As the old saying goes, “how long is a piece of string?” How much a freelance writer gets paid will depend on a number of factors that include the following:

  • How much experience do they have?
  • Where is their work being published?
  • Are they writing for wealthy businesses and clients?
  • How hard do they work?
  • Does their writing lead to proven sales?
  • Do they have a strong and happy base of client reviews?

Freelance writers normally get paid on a per word basis. Starting rates can be anywhere from 1 pence a word right up to £1 or even £10 a word. It ultimately depends on their experience, their reputation, and whether or not their writing is unique and desirable. If a writer can craft product descriptions that help a business sell 10 times more than their rivals, then that writer would be in very high demand and their rates would reflect that.

What is needed to become a freelance writer?

how does freelance writing work CopifyBecause there is so much room to specialise within the freelance writing industry, becoming a freelance writer is a job that doesn’t require a specific set of skills. Yes, you will, of course, need a firm grasp of English grammar and a passion for writing, but you don’t need any exact qualifications or experience per se. Many writers who have stumbled into their career have done so by chance rather than due to a career they have long dreamt of as a child.

To get started you should first assess what sorts of passions you have and what you would be most interested in writing about each day. Once you have decided on this, you can create yourself a basic website or portfolio.This doesn’t even need to be work that has been published somewhere but could be a set of articles you have written about your chosen topic and which demonstrate your writing style and your industry knowledge.

Afterwards, you can start approaching clients via job boards such as Contena. You can also talk to friends and relatives to see if they have any work or to see if anyone they know needs any work done. With enough perseverance and time, you can start to build up a list of clients who like your work and are happy to hire you on a recurring basis. There is no clear path to success, but it will require you to keep fighting through and making your name known.

If you are an aspiring writer and are interested in starting a new career, then Copify could be a great place for you to start. Our writers are first fully vetted to check they are up to the correct standard of writing. Afterwards, however, they gain access to a whole host of exciting projects that allow them to develop their skills and write for a diverse array of clients. If you are interested, then you can find out more here or check out the rest of our blog.

 

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Breaking into copywriting: what is the typical copywriter career path?

Copywriters come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and there’s no one fixed copywriter career path.

But whether you choose to study, take an internship at an agency, set up your own business or a mixture of all these options, there’ll be a way that’s right for you. In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the possible career paths available to copywriters and how you too can break into the industry.

Studying for a qualification

what is the typical copywriter career path 4For those who are dipping their toes into the copywriting waters for the very first time and planning their copywriter career path, it may seem like the best route into the career is to study the subject and learn as much as you can – and this is certainly the right route for some people.

One way into learning about copywriting is to take a qualification specifically designed to give you the skills you need. Organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Marketing offer a range of courses, some of which focus on copywriting. Taking an online course may also work for you.

In terms of higher education, there are only a few copywriting degrees offered here and there. Usually, copywriters with degrees have studied other subjects. These subjects offer transferable skills and mean you’ll be able to broaden your horizons a little.

Many essay subjects, such as History, help you to hone your ability to carry out effective and efficient research – a skill essential for a successful career in copywriting.

Getting work experience

what is the typical copywriter career path 1But you don’t even have to have studied anything in order to become a copywriter. By far the most important aspect of a copywriter’s career path is the diversity of work experience they have gathered – and, for most copywriters with a few years under their belts, their experience and skills speak for themselves.

Every successful copywriter is able to show future clients or employers that they have some experience writing, and work experience is the best way to do that.

The traditional route for those looking for work experience is to work at an agency, and it’s sometimes possible to get a part-time position or internship to get your foot in the door.

Although this means you might be doing some admin tasks as well as honing your writing skills and learning from your bosses, it’s a great way to enter the sector and experience your first taste of work.

Other people join agencies via graduate schemes, while some simply apply for standard junior copywriting jobs. And in some cases, people do other related jobs first – such as journalism – before taking the plunge and moving into copywriting. It’s all about finding what works for you.

As Devon-based copywriter Derryck Strachan has written, whatever copywriting role you apply for it’s important to do your research and tailor your application to them. “Establishing a personal connection with the decision maker at the company you want to work for is a quick win, yet few applicants do it,” he said.

Taking the in-house route

what is the typical copywriter career path 3In copywriting, the term “in house” refers to someone who works for a specific organisation and devotes all of their working time to writing for them. Unlike working at an agency, where you’ll split your time between a few different clients, an in-house copywriter just focuses on one brand.

There are lots of advantages to doing this at the start of your copywriter career path, the main one being that you get the chance to fully embed yourself in your organisation’s field and learn lots about what they do.

However, you may find that it is difficult to move out of this and back into the agency lifestyle. That’s because a few years’ worth of in-house work will often result in a copywriter specialising in the industry or sector their employer belongs to.

For example, a copywriter who goes to work for a large bank and spends five years writing about loans, shareholder equity and interest rates may find it difficult to transition to in-house copywriting for, say, an arts organisation.

By the same token, an employer searching for an in-house fashion specialist is unlikely to go for someone who has spent their professional life writing about banking, because the relevant industry knowledge is not likely to be there.

While this kind of specialism is appealing to some people, it’s worth thinking about this before making the decision to commit to a certain industry.

Going self-employed

what is the typical copywriter career path 5But many copywriters choose not to follow either the agency or the in-house route and instead get into copywriting by setting up on their own.

Often, the first step in becoming a freelance copywriter is to launch your own website, containing a portfolio and information about the services you offer.

It’s a competitive world out there, and as a result, it pays to make sure your portfolio is as strong (and well-designed!) as possible in order to beat the competition and surge ahead in the race for clients.

Once you’ve got your website up and running, it won’t publicise itself – so you’ll need to look into advertising. Google AdWords, for example, is a fantastic way to promote your copywriting business, although it does require some investment.

Applying to content production sites such as Copify are excellent choices, too. These companies find clients who need marketing material written for their blogs, social media pages and much more. They then offer the work to a pool of talented copywriters who produce the copy and get it submitted quickly.

As a freelance copywriter, this gives you a way to pick up work as and when you have the time to do it. What’s more, the diversity of briefs on offer means that no two projects are the same, and your general knowledge quickly rises as a result of the many different subjects on offer.

While the risks of going freelance are well documented, if you put some thought into and plan your path it could well become a rewarding and worthwhile choice.

 

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