By: Amanda Winstead
Full-Time/Part-Time: Just Be Confident
“If you’re waiting until you feel talented enough to write it, you’ll never make it.”―
From Bronte to Keats and Browning to Austen, we often think of the distant past as a golden era for full-time writers. Back then, writing wasn’t just a “job” – it was often a way to find great fame!
Nowadays, that idea seems rarer. Some famous authors make a successful living from their writing. But, most full-time writers made an average of just $20,300 in 2017. If you’re a budding writer or you’re considering it as a full-time job, you might be asking yourself if it’s genuinely feasible.
Unfortunately, the answer is “it depends.” You can certainly profit from your writing, but you might also consider doing it as a side gig along with another full-time job with a stable income. Not everyone can get paid per installment like Charles Dickens.
If being a writer is your goal, decide with confidence whether you can devote all of your time to writing or if you need to start with part-time writing. Click To Tweet
Narrow Your Writing Options
So, let’s look at both options – how you can become a full-time writer with a livable salary and how you can still write and bring in extra money while holding down a more secure job.
Understanding the ins and outs of both will help you to decide which route is correct for you.
Does Freelancing Writing Equal Financial Freedom?
In 2020, 59 million people in the U.S. were freelancing. The gig economy has been on the rise for a while. But, the COVID-19 pandemic caused it to surge even more as people were looking for new jobs and opportunities while staying at home.
Not every freelancer is a writer. But, writing does make up a good portion of the gig market – so you’ll have a lot of competition. There are plenty of benefits to freelancing, but one of the biggest hurdles you’ll have to overcome is building up a steady client base.
Make sure you have a strong portfolio of work to show potential clients and use retention strategies to keep your base strong. Some strategies to try include:
- Personalizing your approach
- Welcome feedback
- Use social media and email to connect
- Form healthy professional relationships with your clients
Keep in mind that freelancing isn’t for everyone. To build a successful career out of it, you need to be dedicated and productive. If you want to be a full-time writer, you need to be completely comfortable working from home. That’s easier for some people than others, especially if you tend to get lonely easily or need regular social interaction.
You can combat those psychological issues by taking frequent breaks and finding a healthy work-life balance. But, if you find that working at home is difficult for you, freelancing might not be as easy as you initially thought.
Should You Write as a Side Gig?
One of the safest ways to earn money writing is to start doing it on the side. One in three Americans has some “side hustle” – a job they can do on their own time while still maintaining full-or-part-time work elsewhere.
Writing in your free time is a great way to do what you love, build your skills, and ensure you have consistent income each month. The benefits of working this way include more than just ensuring you have enough money to pay the bills. Having a side gig can improve your self-awareness and development, make you a better writer, and allow you to build up a more extensive network over time.
Starting your writing career on the side can also give you a greater sense of purpose. Most people choose to be writers because they’re passionate about it. The last thing you want is to lose that passion by diving into a full-time writing career when you’re not ready, only to have to give it up just as quickly when you aren’t finding success.
By taking things slowly and “not quitting your day job,” you’ll experience the best of both worlds as your writing skills continue to grow. If you’re on a tight budget or not in a hurry to jump-start your writing career, doing it on a part-time basis might be a better fit for you.
How to Start a Successful Career as a Writer
“If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.” ~ Edgar Rice Burroughs
Whether you jump in head-first as a full-time writer or decide to do it on the side, there are a few things you should know as you get started. Again, because your competition is so steep, you’ll have to find ways to stand out and set yourself up as a legitimate business. The more prep work you do, the better off you’ll be.
Not sure how to get started? Keep the following tips in mind:
- Go to school for writing
- Read a lot to gain inspiration and learn about different styles
- Understand genre and formatting
- Write as often as you can
- Network with others
- Join a writing group
Will you become the next Hemingway or Twain? Or, in more recent years, could you be compared to Stephen King or J.K. Rowling? There’s no reason it couldn’t happen with a combination of natural talent, hard work, and even a few lucky breaks.
Luck and Hard Work
“[As a writer] you have to have the three D’s: drive, discipline and desire. If you’re missing any one of those three, you can have all the talent in the world, but it’s going to be really hard to get anything done.” ~ Nora Roberts
Don’t rely solely on luck as you’re starting your career, though. We’re in the 21st century – there are no excuses for not finding your writing opportunities when so many are available online. One of the tips listed above says to write as often as you can. For a while, that might mean writing small articles or blogs for different companies. It might mean developing short stories – even if this means posting in writing groups for no pay. The more you write, the better you’ll get. The more you publish, the more your name will become recognized.
Keep Writing While You Wait for Your Big Break
Understand that nothing should be “beneath” you when you’re trying to turn writing into a full-time career. Until you can either build up a steady client base or publish enough content for your name to get some traction, you should be writing just about anything to bring in some reliable income.
You never know when your big break will be. Stay passionate, keep your inspiration flowing, and set reasonable expectations for yourself when it comes to a lifelong writing career.
Bio: Amanda Winstead
Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Portland area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts.
If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.
Other posts by Amanda Winstead:
Two Drops of Ink post by Amanda Winstead: Poetry’s Comeback & Evolution Today
Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing
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