7 Careers For Writers That Aren’t Being a Novelist

7 Careers For Writers That Aren’t Being a Novelist
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Many professional skills have the tendency to get pigeonholed. If you’re good at maths, for example, the expectation might be to become an accountant. But being good at maths doesn’t mean being limited to a CPA, and studying liberal arts field or becoming a writer doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a novelist.

Mastering how to communicate via the written word makes you vital to almost any business, and there’s a multitude of directions you could take your talents if you decide to be a professional writer. Here are seven of them, including how much they earn and where you might get started.

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In the hyper-competitive ‘jobs’ culture, young workers often expect their careers to reach meteoric heights on a quick timeline. Younger generations don’t stay at their jobs for quite as long as their parents did, whether it’s due to economic factors or the view that most jobs are mere stepping stones...

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Technical writer

Photo: Vitalii Matokha, Getty ImagesPhoto: Vitalii Matokha, Getty Images

If you’re a stickler for detail and are able to distill the minutiae of complicated technological concepts into simple prose, becoming a technical writer might be your route. Technical writers piece together concepts that are often complicated for the publishing of instruction manuals, articles, handbooks, and other tools that companies need.

You might be aggregating information from your own research, or you could be talking to engineers, product designers, or other technically-minded professionals. You’ll also be expected to endow each written product with a little conversational sparkle, since technical jargon often reads pretty dry.

If you have a knack for fine detail and understanding technical concepts, try applying to entry-level jobs. Make sure you note any relevant technical training or experience.

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For people who aren’t used to patting themselves on the back, crafting a cover letter can feel like a daunting exercise, especially if you’re applying for a bunch of jobs in a short timeframe. But it’s worth the effort — what starts out as a blank word document will become...

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Grant writer

Photo: REDPIXEL.PL, ShutterstockPhoto: REDPIXEL.PL, Shutterstock

Your persuasiveness and passion will have to shine, as grant writers raise money for non-profits, philanthropic and charitable organisations, individuals, healthcare organisations, and all manner of cause-driven endeavours. You’ll primarily be appealing to the government for grants to fund various enterprises (though you might be trying to procure donations from wealthy individuals). Given the tight squeeze of competition for limited government funds, you’ll have to do your research and write compelling, authoritative proposals.

Start by perusing the job listings of non-profits, NGOs or philanthropic organisations that appeal to you. If you apply to be a grant writer, make sure your cover letter explains what draws you to their cause.

Web content writer

Photo: Stokkete, ShutterstockPhoto: Stokkete, Shutterstock

A web content writer tends to be a jack of all trades who can make copy leap from the screen, no matter what you’re writing about; they’re often filling the written void wherever necessary, but mainly on the about pages, product descriptions, and FAQs on various websites.

This is something you could parlay into a freelance career if you can cobble together enough contacts, and charge various individual rates for entire website or single web pages. Since it easily lends itself to freelance jobs (which can be a full-time vocation but apply easily to part-time side gigs), you’ll need to build up clients. Start wherever you can — including writing copy for a friend’s website, if needed — and begin to build a larger roster from there.

Medical writer

Photo: GaudiLab, ShutterstockPhoto: GaudiLab, Shutterstock

If you’re scientifically-minded, becoming a medical writer is an especially good fit. As a medical writer, you’d be tasked with distilling medical research and the outcomes of various studies into easily digestible copy across a variety of mediums. You could, for instance, draft study abstracts, marketing materials, advisory board summaries, or healthcare policy summaries.

It’s a position that requires a bit more specialisation and familiarity with the general orbit of medicine, but it’s typically a more lucrative writing position than most. You’ll likely need a degree in some sort of scientific discipline, if not an intimate familiarity with some area of medicine. If you have those, you can have a world of industries to look into, including pharmaceutical, biotech, universities, and other research institutions.


Photo: GaudiLab, ShutterstockPhoto: GaudiLab, Shutterstock

Have fantasies of living out some kind of Madison Avenue powerbroker lifestyle a la Mad Men? Working in today’s advertising world is decidedly more subdued (for good reason), but can still be fun. As a copywriter, you’ll be working primarily with brands, devising the slogans and campaigns that ultimately drive their public identities and, hopefully, their sales. Your role can span a variety of different online and physical mediums, from billboards to magazines.

You’ll be something of a cultural architect, perhaps coining product names and commercial slogans that become ingrained in the zeitgeist. Advertising agencies are often looking for young, scrappy writers eager to try their hand at the next corporate campaign.

Branded content writer

Photo: Shutterstock, ShutterstockPhoto: Shutterstock, Shutterstock

“Branded content writer” is kind of a newfangled role that emerged as digital media companies became beholden to newer and sometimes more furtive forms of advertising. They typically write blogs, stories, articles, and even perform interviews on behalf of brands and their advertising needs. Journalistic outlets — including the one you’re reading right now — regularly employ them as part of their marketing teams.

Basically, when brands want their products or services hyped in an editorial kind of way, they rely on branded content writers to get the posts online. Once you build your skills as a crafty wordsmith who can write solid copy about basically anything, you can put together a portfolio and start looking for entry-level jobs in the field.

Social media copywriter

Photo: SFIO CRACHO, ShutterstockPhoto: SFIO CRACHO, Shutterstock

Brevity is key for social media copywriters, as short, snappy copy is usually what draws the most attention on social platforms. If you feet at home online, then posting to social media channels on behalf of an agency or brand is a great way to flex your writing chops. Every brand has social accounts now, and they need people fluent on social media trends and internet language to staff those positions.

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