The Accidental Writer
The Internet has a voracious appetite for the written word. Website owners must fill up the more than 366 million sites currently hosted on the web. Since high quality content is essential to any successful online business marketing strategy, business has turned to the Internet for a solution to the problem of finding good content. As a result, a new market has opened up in the past few years for beginning writers, who may have once thought they'd never pierce the paper ceiling to become real honest-to-goodness freelance writers.
Even after writing literally thousands of paid web articles, many freelancers are still surprised to find themselves working as professional writers. Some of them are shy. Many hate marketing themselves, making cold calls, and hustling advertising. Savvy web publishers have capitalized on the reluctance of so many would-be writers, who do not want to take on the often soul-destroying process of finding agents, wading through rejection notes, and trying to figure out how to get published.
By taking on the sales and marketing for the writer, and by making the process easier and the rewards more immediate, content publishers have been able to attract stables of talented writers, who'd rather write articles than make sales calls. Content writing may not be the great American novel, but writing for online publishers helps pay some bills, and it encourages neophyte writers to keep on plugging away long enough to learn the craft of writing. Pulp magazine publishers once performed the same function in publishing, but with a lot less tact and sympathy. As a content writer, it's possible to still work on that novel and generate enough ready cash to pay the light bill.
There are three basic talents content writers need to bring to the table if they want to make even a modest living at it:
- Speed - You need to write well and quickly. Time is money in content marketing. You need to be able to produce blogs, tweets, and short articles quickly and with clarity while making sure to follow the grammatical guidelines the publisher recommends.
- Experience - Many specialty writers turn to freelancing after having been laid off. A writer with considerable experience in a particular field, looking to supplement unemployment checks, can probably make money writing about subjects in his or her field. Almost any field will do since there is probably someone somewhere out there in cyberspace that wants the very information you have rattling around in your head. Some writers have even given up searching for jobs altogether because they are able to support themselves and make enough money freelance writing.
- Research skills - You need to be able to research, learn, write, forget, and then start all over. In his ground-breaking book Future Shock, Alvin Toffle said, "The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn." This is especially true for freelance writers. What you may lack in experience and training can often be made up for with excellent research skills. It doesn't work the other way around, however. Research skills are essential to make a living by writing content articles.
At a time when confusion reigns as to where the print publishing industry is headed, there's work to be had with online content publishers. A lot of future journeyman writers have figured that out, and in the process, they have discovered an unexpected path to a career in writing.