Entry Level Writing Jobs – Land Your First Writing Gig
Landing a job as a writer is a dream for many, but getting started can be really hard. In this post, we highlight some fantastic entry level writing jobs that will put you on course to becoming a successful (and paid!) writer.
Editorial Assistant Jobs
Many writers begin their careers as assistant editors where they help senior editors in preparing texts for publications. This is a great on-ramp for aspiring writers because it affords exposure to different kinds of writing and will familiarize you with the editing process.
Check out our post on how to become an editor.
If you are able to work under experienced and talented supervisors, the role can even become a kind of apprenticeship with a master in their craft. Editing the work of other writers has the added benefit of helping refine your own voice as you learn new turns of phrase and gain exposure to different writing practices. And if you are lucky, you may get to read some amazing works before they are published!
Content Writing Jobs
Content writers typically produce copy related to products or services offered by companies. The kinds of writing required can vary widely, and you could be expected to write marketing copy, maintain the company blog, or write new product manuals. Although you may have little choice over what you write about, content writing will require you to learn a host of other skills. Knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) is a real differentiator in this field and experts in SEO can command high salaries as content writers.
Although SEO is constantly changing, it is pretty easy to learn the basics through online resources. These will teach you how to produce copy that satisfies search algorithms and improves your rank on google and other search engines. This specialization from Coursera – Search Engine Optimization – will give you a great foundation and demonstrate your enthusiasm to potential employers. SEO is a pretty complex topic, so if you are serious about content writing and have little or no experience, taking the Coursera specialization or a similar course will be vital. Otherwise, you might be overlooked by employers who prefer someone with demonstrable knowledge of SEO practices.
Content writing may also require you to master new technical knowledge if the product you are writing about requires specific expertise. The ability to distill complex ideas into easily digestible prose is a highly valuable skill, and there are many content writing jobs that will pay well if you can write clearly about complex products or services.
Coursera also has a course specifically on content marketing, which is definitely worth checking out: The Strategy of Content Marketing. It is a great resource for getting to grips with the field as a whole. If you are looking for a blog, also check out Stefanie Flaxman’s CopyBlogger, which will give you a good flavor of the industry.
Before I discuss the merits of blogging, I want to dispel some myths. First, blogging is not easy work. Many people think that whipping up a blog on WordPress and writing a post every couple of days will get you pageviews and easy advertising revenue. This is simply not the case.
Making reliable income from blogging will require a huge amount of work over many months. Like content writing discussed above, you will need to master SEO to generate organic traffic. In addition, having a targeted social media strategy across a few platforms is a must to generate sufficient traffic.
The amount of content required for a reasonable following is enormous, and until you reach several hundred posts, you will likely have few followers. Plus, there is the fundamental challenge of producing good content that people actually want to read.
Fortunately, however, it is possible to make a successful blog in almost any niche you can imagine. In blogging, there is a lot of scope to write about something that inspires you.
Is there any point?
Given these challenges, why do it? Well, training all of the skills discussed above is amazing practice and will help you build a host of marketable talents. Also, you can basically write about anything on your blog, so you can satisfy your own intellectual leanings whenever you write a post. One caveat, though, is the dictates of SEO, which will likely limit the range of things you write about in order to please the search engines.
Blogging is also an amazing way to show expertise in a particular area. If you are looking for an entry level position in a space where you have no experience or formal training, a credible blog can be really helpful. You can point to your blog on your resume and in interviews to impress employers with your knowledge and passion for a certain topic.
If you need resume help or want to get noticed by employers, upload your resume to Human Jobs here.
Here are some great resources about starting to blog
- Kat Boogaard has some great content on freelancing, so check her out here.
- Check out Anastasia Blogger for how to get started and build your social media presence
- For SEO, Neil Patel is really strong, so head over there to learn more
If you are expert in a particular cultural space or have strong domain-specific knowledge, being a critic is a fantastic career path. Many successful writers have started off writing book reviews before going full-time on their own work. Being a critic can also be really fun and is very helpful in building a reputation in a particular space.
There is a range of writings jobs that fall under the mantle of critic, and they won’t be advertised with the same regularity as content writing or editorial assistant jobs. So, if you want to be a critic, you will need to devote comparatively more effort to find suitable opportunities. I recommend starting with local publications/newspapers to see if they require a critic for a particular beat. This is less competitive than national publications, and once you have a portfolio, it will be much easier to find your next job.
Proofreading and fact-checking jobs are a great way to get your foot in the door as a writer. As a copy editor or proofreader, you will be tasked with ensuring texts are grammatical and adhere to the appropriate style dictates. Being around fellow writers and editors will increase the likelihood that you can progress into a full-time writing job in the future, as well.
Although not the same as proofreading, fact-checking work can be an interesting way to learn about cutting edge topics as you verify quotes and factual statements in pre-published manuscripts. The New Yorker is famous for its large fact-checking department, but many organizations employ fact checkers to ensure the credibility of their offerings. This is important work, and mistakes can cause great embarrassment as seen in this recent high-profile case.
Build a portfolio
The world of writing and publishing is not what it used to be, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t fantastic opportunities. From new platforms, like Substack, to traditional publications, like Harper’s, there are many opportunities for writers today. The key is to be flexible and realize that being a writer in the twenty-first century is very different from what it was even thirty years ago. There is more choice of outlets, but the competition is higher, as well.
Approach the writing job search with flexibility and don’t become wedded to one particular path. Those who can adapt will be rewarded with the most fulfilling writing careers.
Comment below with your own experiences and check out Human Jobs for the best new writing jobs.
Another thought on data and VPN’s
Data is the new oil. So if you give away data for free, you are being robbed of an important resource. Even worse is getting hacked. VPN’s provide an important layer of protection between you and adversaries who are looking to steal data. Whenever you connect to public Wi-Fi, use a VPN. We think NordVPN is a fantastic option, so check it out below.