Ideas are everywhere. For a writer this means the capability to write is plentiful. Finding paid employment, on the other hand, is another matter.
Work opportunities are often not advertised and are not confined to a 9am to 5pm work day. They are nearly always governed by deadlines.
A journalist writes articles for newspapers, magazines and other publications. They can be feature articles, news stories or reviews. The journalist must be well informed and have contacts. Journalism involves:
- locating news stories
- attending meetings
- establishing reliable contacts
- writing to a deadline
- accepting direction from others
- working in a team
- having effective interview skills
Freelance writers work for numerous publications, rather than being employed by one company. Most work for newspapers and magazines. They need to be proactive in creating work opportunities otherwise they will not make money. Their job involves:
- attracting commissions
- developing contacts for potential work
- establishing a wide network of contacts
- liaising with editors and business management
- researching material
- writing material suitable for the business they work for
- undertaking interviews
- setting up a small office/business
- keeping abreast of technical changes and industry changes
- marketing their work
Public Relations Consultant
A PR Consultant profiles and promotes an organisation, an event, a person or a product. The tasks include:
- solicit client work
- accept client brief
- research publicity material
- undertake interviews
- prepare and write material such as letters, brochures, media releases, reports, submissions and media kits
- respond to media, public and client requests
- attend meetings
- organise distribution of material
- identify marketing strategies
- organise conferences, exhibitions and events
- organise book tours, interviews and other appearances
Corporate and Technical Writers
Corporate writers undertake all writing within the business sector. Tasks include:
- liaise with staff and management
- research material
- establish contacts
- prepare letters and memos
- prepare publicity material, reports, submissions, speeches, newsletters and any other publications request by the employer
Apart from research, this job entails:
- accepting client brief
- locating suitable material
- writing synopsis of researched material
- attending and organising meetings
- writing articles
- record keeping
- providing material to publishers and editors
The tasks of an editor can vary considerably depending on the size of the organisation they work for. They could do all or only some of the following:
- liaise with publisher to establish/build/alter publisher’s list
- solicit and commission work from writers
- provide advice to writers
- read and select manuscripts
- reject unsuitable manuscripts
- liaise with writers about their work
- prepare contracts
- publicise books/authors
- co-ordinate author tours
- write publicity material
- write text for book jackets
- engage book designer/illustrator
- liaise with printers
- apply for ISBN numbers
- register books and authors for public lending rights payments
- obtain permissions from appropriate copyright holders
- proof read copy
- seek advertising/sponsorship
- develop a network of contacts
Generating Your Own Work
To generate your own work, you must prepare a portfolio of your writing. Make sure it is attractive, well presented and professional looking. Here are some things you can do:
- Present yourself to potential employers, in person or in writing. This can include advertising agencies, publishing houses, local papers, theatres, magazines, film production houses and large organisations with a public affairs section.
- Volunteer to work for clubs and/or societies, theatre groups, community groups, student magazines and charities. Write for their newsletters. Write, design and layout their publicity material. Make sure you get your by-line on all your published work. Keep copies in your portfolio. This will help create paid work later.
- Accept work placements through courses. This is an excellent way to position yourself in the writing world. It helps you become known, to gain experience and skills and may lead to paid work.
- Start your own magazine. You can do this around a particular interest or for an organisation you may be a part of.
- Write and produce your own play.
- Be alert for writing opportunities. Be willing to step up to the challenge. Help out for free when necessary as it might lead to something paid.
- Develop a network of contacts and let them know you are looking for work.
- Enter writing competitions. You may be noticed. You may win!
- Make sure you are accessible. If necessary get a phone, fax and answering machine to ensure people can reach you.
- Make sure you are multi-skilled. The more you can do, the more likely it is that you will get paid work.