If you enjoy writing, and want to make it a career, you need to know the different type of writing jobs available, and each of them are defined by different writing styles and require unique set of skills.
- Technical Writing involves writing content for instruction manuals for external parties (like telling a consumer how to set up a television) and/or for training modules for the organization’s employees. Writers must be able to take complex technical jargon and scientific material and produce copy in simple language that can be easily understood by laypeople. Relevant experience and job-specific computer skills are important.
- Public Relations/Communications writing includes writing press releases and other publicity material such as newsletters for internal and external audience, journals, etc. Those interested will find many opportunities here, as your range extends from PR/advertising firms to most any organization. However, experience relevant to the organization’s area of primary business is always preferred. Working with web design and development and graphic design is a big plus, as some organizations also require their PR/Communications personnel to post and maintain content on their websites.
- Newspapers & Magazines: Newspapers are rapidly folding as they lose advertising dollars to the Internet, and those managing to stay afloat use freelancers to cover local events and write general interest stories.
Most publications depend on freelance writers to provide content for them, and only a few national magazines have full-time staff members writing and editing for them. If you prefer to write for several different publications, your endeavor would involve a lot of research and specific pitching strategies (particularly for query letters) that vary from publication to publication. Tailor your query letters to the writing style of each to give an idea of your ability to the editor. Every query letter is different as no two publications are the same. By the time you are ready to start writing the article, you should have thoroughly researched your topic and even identified sources to interview (if you need to).
Once you have the approval to write for a publication, you need to use your sources quotes intelligently, and a engrossing writing style that matches the one sought by the magazine. Pay rates vary, but most rates are between 30 cents and $1.50 per word. The business and financial publications pay more.
- Writing for Television: There are many different types of writing here too. Writing scripts for TV shows requires training at a film school and requires a lot of creative thinking and the flair to present your ideas that would be entertaining to a mass audience. This type of writing is a completely different ballgame from writing for TV news and documentaries, which require journalism degrees. The writing is more concise and serious (most of the time) although the opportunity to have fun with your story does present itself occasionally. It is important to have a working knowledge of video editing.
- Digital Content Editor/Producer: Writing skills are crucial. However, knowledge of web and graphic design and content management systems are also very important. Digital Content Editors are responsible for deciding what content goes on their websites, and also for editing and monitoring it. Good judgment to appropriately use text, photographs, graphics, audio and video and the ability to integrate these different mediums are highly desired.
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