You might be looking for your first career role or are hoping to change direction and start afresh. Maybe, you’re simply interested in the prospect of writing as an earning but aren’t sure where to start. No matter your reasons, copywriting is an achievable goal for anyone who has a knack for the English word. And although having an English or journalism degree may make breaking into the writing industry a little easier, in the majority of writing careers, it’s definitely not a necessity.
Read on as we take an in-depth look and find out how to find writing jobs without a degree.
How you can have an edge over degree candidates
Even though education is always a good thing, it’s really not for everyone. Those who have opted for a different path to university can often bring an edge to the companies that they work for.
Understanding what unique qualities you have and the areas that you would work best in are essential to forging a strong writing career. In pitches, interviews and resumes, you will need to offer extra qualities that make up for the space that a degree would take.
Knowing exactly what you can bring to the table as a writer and having confidence in your specialised areas will outshine a degree.
Even if you will be writing speculative content or personal blog posts, by choosing areas which you are most passionate and knowledgeable about, your content will be more successful. And whilst it’s important to be a versatile writer, by having a specialised area, you will create a stronger identity as a writer and attract the clients that you’d ultimately like to work for.
Prospective employers and clients tend to want experience, real understanding and passion over a degree as this can all translate into engaging, relatable content. Perhaps you’re a copywriter who specialises in luxury beauty, with a USP of creating high-end content that boosts the value of a brand. Or maybe, you specialise in property and are able to write in a manner that relates to the customer and personifies a brand. Have a think about what you’re passionate about and what you’d like to work in.
Experience is everything
Without a degree, clients, potential employers and peers will expect one thing from you. Experience.
The best way to start gaining experience as a writer is to create a blog. This is a low-risk way to start writing, create a tone of voice and explore different writing styles. Whether it’s a blog that explores your current home renovation, movie reviews, industry tips or a personal diary, it’s a great starting point to a career. In many cases, writers will initially advertise writing services on their blog and use it as a portfolio. Even better? If you’re testing the waters and are unsure whether writing is the right career path for you, it will give you a taste of what’s to come without too much commitment.
Another great way to gain experience is by offering guest blog posts to aspirational magazines, blogs or websites. Start by approaching smaller companies who are more likely to say yes. Contact local papers, marketing agencies and retailers and pitch writing for their blogs. If you’re feeling confident, reach out to news outlets such as The Huffington Post or agencies like iCrossing.
Finally, kickstart your career by joining a content mill or bidding site. Not only is this a great way to build a portfolio of varied content experience, but it will give you a feel for how professional freelance writing works.
Refine and polish skills to make sure you’re at the top of your game
As a writer, it’s important that you remember that there is always room to grow and more to learn. Gaining experience that is practical and used within writing industries is impressive to potential clients or employers as it results in valuable content.
There are a multitude of free and paid writing resources, online writing courses and prompts that will help you refine and develop your writing skills.
To refine your creative writing, Daily Page will send you a writing prompt per day, helping to unleash your creativity and think outside the box.
Writers Digest has a great list of prompts too, which will help you to develop essential skills and improve as a writer.
Invest in a website
A website is essential to any writer and is the first thing that any potential clients of employers will want to see. It’s a way to showcase your experience, writing style and the work that you are most proud of.
It will also give you more credibility as a writer, helping you to achieve the salaries or prices that you require.
WordPress and Squarespace are two great platforms for high-standard, professional results. Both offer great portfolio options for writers as well as easy-to-edit and upload blog posts and pages. Squarespace is the best option for those who are striving for stylised, fashion-forward websites, and conveniently, it has minimal upkeep. Achieving the ideal look of your site is also more straightforward with this platform.
Remember, a good website can mean the difference between getting a job or not. It should be something that you invest time and money in, and are mindful of how it will represent you and the work that you plan to do.
Aim for agency work
As an entry into the writing industry, agency work will give you the best start possible. It’s a fast-paced environment that juggles multiple and varied clients, usually requiring high-turnarounds of quality content. Essentially, after a year or two of working in an agency environment, you’ll be able to move onto almost any writing career.
Strive high with agencies that are at the forefront of the industry such as The Charles and Avex. Alternatively, do your research and find smaller agencies that are subsets of larger ones. This is a great way to experience leading agency quality that may be more attainable. For example, Tom Ewer, founder of Leaving Work Behind, also has a small content agency known as WordCandy.
In the meantime, if you’re looking to get a writing job without a degree, why not consider applying to Copify?