Making a living by your writing wits can be a daunting challenge. In this age of competition, finding your niche is essential to break out from the pack.
The good news? If you’re willing to venture a little further off the beaten paths of freelance journalism, blogging, and Great American Novel writing, you can find some pretty cool gigs.
Check out these seven unconventional writing jobs:
When celebrities, politicians, and other fancy people want to publish a book, blog post, or tweet, they often don’t want to go to the trouble of actually writing it. That’s where a ghostwriter comes in.
This gig is great for privacy, solitude, anonymity — and a decent paycheck. Plus, the people you write for usually have a solid platform of readers built up, so you usually don’t have to do any marketing, pushing, or promotions. (Check out this great post on The Art of Manliness for more insider ideas from a professional ghostwriter.)
2. Game Writer
Game writers create the dialogue and narrative arc of video games. You probably won’t be winning any prizes for your incredible prose (“I took an arrow to the knee!” is a typical line), but this job has a major bonus: it’s collaborative.
“You have to work with game designers, level designers, and the artists,” said Haris Orkin, a writer on Dead Island: Riptide. “It’s really a collaboration between all of it, because the story is told by every part of the game, as much by the level design and the art as it is by writing.”
So if you like writing but aren’t fond of languishing at home, alone, in your pajamas, this could be a good match.
3. Technical Writer
Technical writers take complicated information and put it into simple-to-understand language for instructions, user manuals, and more. Demand is high (8,500 new positions by 2020) and the pay is good ($65,000 on average). You won’t get many opportunities to craft flashy dialogue or intense prose, but you will use your creativity to solve the puzzle of how to communicate in the clearest way possible.
If you know a second language — especially if it’s a widely spoken one like Spanish, Chinese, or Arabic — you can make bank translating technical, business, or government documents. (You can also try your hand at literary translation, but the competition is often tough and the pay is often low.)
In terms of location and hours, translation gigs are extremely flexible. But you’ve got to have intense attention to detail. “The kind of person that makes a good translator is the same kind of person that makes a good librarian: someone who’s a little (or a lot) obsessive-compulsive,” writes Sarah Lindholm of the Detail Woman blog. So if you love those picky details, consider this career. (Or be a copy editor. That’s a good choice too.)
5. Advertising Copywriter
Mad Men got you hooked? Well, it’s true: Advertising is a seriously creative field. “Advertising copywriting is a career in which you can be creative and work with creative people,” writes John Kuraoka, a 20-year veteran of the ad industry. “Advertising agencies attract creative people because the industry appreciates and rewards creativity. Therein lies the challenge: copywriting is a career in which you must be creative, on demand.”
Writing ads is fun, but not because it’s easy. It’s because it’s very, very hard.
6. Content Strategist
Content strategists wear many different hats, but their work boils down to one big task: figure out how content (blog posts, images, white papers, web pages, social media conversations, email newsletters) can help a company reach its goals. Content strategists do a lot of things that don’t involve writing — like content audits, editorial calendar management, and outreach strategy — but without a firm understanding of what makes great content (Storytelling! Drama! WIIFM!) you’re sunk.
This is a great gig for writers who crave variety.
7. PR Specialist
To attract the eye of the media, a PR specialist must think like a journalist. Clients hire you for your ability to listen to their needs and then craft a story that media organizations deem newsworthy.
If you love writing, but want 1) a steady job at a firm, 2) a regular paycheck (average salary is $58,000), and 3) a people-person work style, consider PR.
Would you go after one of these gigs? Why or why not? (Did you like these ideas? Click to tweet them!)