how many ways can you get paid to work with words

April 28, 2017, by Laura

How Many Ways Can You Get Paid To Work With Words?

By Laura Sage, final year, BA Hons English

Writing is a wonderful hobby, and an excellent skill to help you achieve success in life. I myself have always been an avid writer, from the stories I wrote as a kid to the blogs I produce now for Careers. I have always known I wanted to write for a living in some capacity.

However, I am aware that simply writing creatively, be it stories or poetry, isn’t always as lucrative as you might like it to be. Not everyone can take a year out to pen their dream novel. If you want to write, there are many ways you can harness your creativity and literary flair in a commercial setting.

At a recent Spotlight On… event, ‘working with words’, I heard from three excellent speakers who have carved out a niche in writing; each in unique and exciting ways. The three speakers were: Anna Gardner, author of The Anna Edit, an online fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog; Roger Hadfield, screenwriter and copywriter for Tribe, a Nottingham-based design agency; and Tom Travis, Digital Communications Officer at The University of Nottingham. Here’s how they found work with words:

Digital communications

Tom works in the cosy four-person digital communications department here at the University. His job involves the world of social media, such as Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

He combines the visual with the semantic: Snaps are paired with captions; tweets link to YouTube videos. This job covers a range of skill sets, from writing to digital technology. If you’re worried about a lack of experience, you can teach yourself how to use digital tools, such as Photoshop, online.

Freelance blogging

Anna started writing her beauty, fashion and lifestyle blog when she was here at Nottingham, however it really began to take shape when she was working freelance and managed to fit in blogging on the two days she had off. Since then, she has gone full time and managed to create a career where she is her own boss.

This kind of career can take years to take off, so it’s wise to begin with a blog as a regular hobby rather than pursuing it as a full time endeavour. The key is to focus on what you are passionate about. You can also look at jobs where you create content for brands. In this role, you would be in charge of their social media feed – such as Instagram – and/or their blog.

Copywriting

There is also plenty of work in commercial copywriting. Roger worked for many years in copywriting for advertising agencies. He began by penning ideas and sending them out to Levi, who told him that he had talent which could be refined at an ad school.

Commercial writing is a long-established role, and the demand for writers is always increasing. If you want to work in advertising, mock up a portfolio and send it to small-medium ad agencies to look at.

Film

In addition to his work in commercial writing, Roger has dabbled in screenwriting. His film, Away, is soon to be released in UK cinemas.  Roger suggests that in order to break into screenwriting, it can be helpful – but not essential – to get an agent. They can contact the relevant production companies in order to get your work looked at.

He noted, however, that the film industry is being overtaken by television. Therefore, it may be more fruitful to start there. You heard it here first…

Writing, like any other skill, is something that can only improve the more you practise. So write away, right away!

For more information on working with words, check out our sector pages on the digital industries, media and broadcasting, and journalism. If you want to discuss your ambitions with an expert, you can book an appointment on My Career. 

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