Getting paid to write: that’s really living the dream! And there’s more ways than you might think to actually earn a full-time living as a writer.
We’ve identified the top 39 jobs and paid freelance opportunities for writers!
How to Make Money as a Writer
When we think of writing careers, most of us think of “novelist” or “journalist,” although these days, “copywriter” may come in a close third. And it’s true—these are all great career options for someone with writing talent.
But they’re not the only options available. There are many, many career paths for someone with solid writing skills. Which job is right for you will depend completely on your personal preferences and talents.
- Do you excel at creative writing?
- Are you particularly persuasive?
- Do you love to talk to people?
- Do you enjoy research?
- Do you prefer writing fiction or nonfiction?
- Do you prefer writing short-form articles, short stories, towering novels, or in-depth nonfiction works?
Your answers to all these questions will help shape which writing career is best for you.
So what options do you have if you want to pursue writing full-time?
How to Make Money as a Creative Writer
The following are great options for creative writers looking to earn money for their novels, screenplays, short stories, and more.
This is undoubtedly the first job anyone thinks of when they think about getting paid to do creative writing. Being a novelist carries with it a ton of romance and appeal—after all, you’re getting paid to make stuff up and be imaginative all day!
But it’s also tough work—your novels may not always sell well, you may have trouble working through the plot or getting a character to cooperate, and navigating either traditional or self-publishing can take a lot of time and know-how.
However, today’s digital publishing revolution has made it easier than ever to get started as a novelist, and with the help of a professional editor and a book designer, you can easily create a pro-quality ebook from your manuscript, ready to upload to your distributor of choice (like Amazon’s Kindle platform) and start selling.
Of course, if you’d like a professional team to help you, you could always go the traditional route with a publisher like TCK Publishing that can produce your novel on your behalf. The choice is yours!
2. Tie-In Novel Writer
If you’re a superfan of a particular media franchise, like Warcraft, Star Wars, or Bioshock, you might want to try your hand at writing and selling tie-in novels. These books pick up where the video game or movie left off, telling the stories of background characters or expanding the world in some way (like by setting up a prequel or exploring some other aspect of the franchise).
Often, they’re commissioned by the video game studio or movie studio that handles the main media arm. And lots of successful authors have gotten their start doing tie-in novels for video games or other media, while others still write tie-ins even while writing novels! Chuck Wendig and Brandon Sanderson have successful author careers as novelists, but they still turn out novellas and novels in other people’s worlds.
Because you’re writing in someone else’s world, basically creating paid fanfic, you have to be careful about releasing tie-in works. Unless you’re working through Kindle Worlds, it’s best to approach the publisher of an established tie-in series directly instead of self-publishing your tie-in work. That avoids possible copyright issues involved with selling work that’s based on someone else’s creative content.
3. Short Story Author
Although novels often get all the glory, short stories may pay the bills! Many venues, such as fiction websites and literary magazines, pay for short stories in a variety of genres. And because short stories are often faster to write than long novels, you can constantly be producing more stories to send out while you’re waiting to hear about current submissions.
Plus, digital publishing helps here, too! You can produce digital-only editions of your short stories to release on Kindle and other ebook platforms. 99 cents doesn’t sound like much when you think about creating a writing career, but it adds up over time as more people discover and buy your work!
If your favorite part of writing fiction is creating characters and dialogue, then screenwriting might be the career for you. A screenwriter creates a script based either on their own original concepts or adapts someone else’s work to play out better on screen. They may write for TV or movies.
Typically, screenwriters are freelancers who develop scripts and then shop them to production companies, a bit like how a novelist shops their work to publishers. In some cases, though, you might be able to get a job on a writing team for a TV show. Many scripted comedies and dramas rely on a team of skilled writers to come up with plots for each episode and then to turn those plots into coherent documents that include dialogue, setting notes, suggested actions, and more.
It can be tough to sell a screenplay, but with more and more outlets for video entertainment, you can come up with some creative ways to make a living as a screenwriter. Consider scripting a short web series and enlisting friends to help you produce it for YouTube, or work on audio-only scripts that you could produce as a podcast.
Of course, with Amazon and Netflix now financing more original series and holding competitions for series ideas, there’s more chances than ever for a screenwriter to break into the business.
Similar to screenwriters, playwrights use their literary skills to paint scenes and depict character interactions. But playwrights focus on creating scripts for the stage, rather than for film or TV.
You might create your own original work, or you might adapt someone else’s work into a stage version. Creative writers who want to work with the stage may also be able to write librettos, which are the written text used for something like an opera or long musical. Creating a libretto is a bit like doing a “film to novel” adaptation, only for a musical work.
Broadway is booming these days (and tickets to Hamilton are still impossible to come by), so playwrights with a great sense of timing and who can work well with a composer may have an advantage in this area.
But remember, not everything has to be a major three-act epic or a chart-topping Broadway toe-tapper. There are lots of one-act play festivals all over the world that you can work with to get your plays produced and to start getting a reputation in the field.
6. Lyricist or Songwriter
If you’ve always had a knack for poetry and rhyme—or just a really good sense of rhythm—you might want to look into becoming a songwriter. This can be a bit of a hard field to break into, especially if you’re not personally a wonderful musician, but every singer requires great lyrics that tell a story, and who better to craft them than a great creative writer?
A lyricist writes lyrics, whereas a songwriter writes the whole piece, music and words. It’s easiest to break into the industry if you can write the full song—and even more so if you can perform it yourself for a demo. But it’s definitely possible to enter the music industry with nothing more than catchy lyrics that tell a story in a way you just can’t get out of your mind.
If you have a tin ear, you may want to find a friend who’s good on guitar or keyboard to help you craft the notes to go with your lyrics. This will particularly help with breaking into the field, as just sending out songs with no music won’t get you very far. If you can put up some samples on YouTube, though (one way to shop around a demo these days!), it’ll give you a creative and business boost for your songwriting career.
Many professional songwriters and lyricists are associated with recording studios or record labels, writing music for the artists those labels produce. Others are freelance, producing work for hire.
7. Children’s Book Author
Another great career option for a creative writer with a knack for rhyme and catchy stories is becoming a children’s book author. The range of possibilities here is really vast—you might write picture books, educational books for kids, storybooks for toddlers, compilations of fairytales or myths, topical books explaining current events or history for younger children, or beyond.
Picture books, written for some of the youngest kids who are just learning to read, often rely on images even more than words to tell the story. If you’re not a talented artist, you’ll probably want to find a friend or a freelancer that you can work with to create the images to accompany your words. If you do, make sure you get a “work for hire” agreement made so that you have all the rights to sell the images and the text together. This is important regardless of whether you’re self-publishing or using a traditional publisher, because otherwise, you could find that your illustrator revokes permission or asks for a percent of your royalties.
Because they’re so often illustrated, children’s books are frequently more expensive to produce than other creative writing works, and parents don’t often read to their kids on a tablet, making digital editions less popular. So traditional publishing, rather than self-publishing, is still the most popular option among children’s book authors.
8. Greeting Card Writer
If you’re particularly witty or have a talent for coming up with heartfelt sentiments that turn your loved ones to mush, you might want to consider becoming a greeting card writer. This is a pretty competitive industry, with only a few job openings at the major players like Hallmark, but advances in digital printing and online sales make it possible to start your own stationary line relatively easily.
Think about investing in a really good color laser printer and some nice paper, then designing your own greeting cards using your sayings, jokes, and more. Package them neatly and post them on Etsy and you’re on your way to being a successful greeting card writer!
Again, just like with children’s book illustrations, if you work with someone else to illustrate or design your cards, be sure to get a work for hire agreement so you don’t have any nasty financial or legal surprises down the road. And if you use photos for your designs, make sure you have the rights to use them—free or low-cost images are available from plenty of legitimate sources online, so make sure to check the use rights of any image you find online to be sure you’re allowed to use it in commercial work.
9. Comic or Graphic Novel Writer
Comic books aren’t just for kids anymore (although there are plenty of those still around!). Graphic novels have come into their own as an art form, and there’s a huge need for great writers who can tell a punchy, action-packed story…or even a heartfelt, thoughtful drama.
Graphic novel writers typically work with a team, interacting most with the artist for the project (the inker and colorist aren’t as involved with the writer as they are with the illustrator).
You’ll often work within an existing world or franchise, creating new adventures for a set of characters (this is how Marvel and DC comics get made). But with an independent comic studio, you might have the opportunity to come up with new, exciting characters all your own.
Yet again, the internet is an amazing advantage here. If you’re a good artist or you have talented artist friends, you can produce a webcomic online that can help you get exposure for your creative writing. It’s a lot less expensive than producing and marketing an underground comic, let alone a traditional comic book or graphic novel, and it can help you gain a fanbase and make contacts to start getting writing jobs with bigger comics producers.
10. Video Game Writer
Writing for video games combines a lot of different skills: scriptwriting, graphic novel storyboarding, plot development, character creation, worldbuilding, and more. Nonlinear creative writing and plotting can be tough, but it’s also incredibly rewarding, especially if you have the kind of creative mindset that thinks of a thousand different scenarios all at the same time.
Video game writers typically work in teams, scripting out dozens of possible scenarios that players might want to explore within the world of the game. You’ll often start from the preferred plotline and expand outward to create more and more options for players to navigate through.
This is a great career option for a non-linear thinker who likes to throw plot curveballs at their audience, as well as for writers who love creating dialogue.
Most of the time, video game writers are employed directly by a game studio rather than working freelance.
11. RPG Writer
RPG writers, like video game writers, are creating interactive works that allow the audience a lot of leeway to determine how the plot takes shape. However, they might also write long descriptive passages, a lot like short stories or novellas, that set up particular scenarios or adventures. They may also create handbooks describing aspects of a world like its creatures or the magic that’s used.
Writing for RPGs can also be a lot like being a tie-in writer or graphic novel writer, in that you’re often working within a setting or world that many other writers are also working in. You’ll have to be good at communicating and coordinating with others to make sure that all the parts of the stories you’re all working on mesh well together and don’t create any huge plot holes or major contradictions.
RPG writers often work for gaming companies, like Wizards of the Coast or White Wolf, but you can also create games on your own. Kickstarter has proven to be a fantastic resource for budding game developers and you might want to look through the gaming section on the site to find new companies in need of freelancers. You can also consider developing and selling your own games or scenarios through distributors like Drivethru RPG.
12. Creative Writing Instructor
Once you’ve established your skills as a writer, you might want to consider passing them on to others! Creative writing instructors are often needed at local community colleges, which frequently don’t require a graduate degree in writing as long as you can show a good portfolio of work and publication credits, as well as a good teaching presence.
You might also look into providing small-group or private creative writing classes in your community, perhaps in partnership with a career development council or a local bookstore.
Again, you’ll need a good classroom presence and plenty of patience, as well as good editorial insight to complement your creative writing skills. It takes a special kind of person to help bring out and polish the creativity in others, but it can be incredibly rewarding to see your students start to build their own writing careers!
Making Money with Nonfiction Writing
These nonfiction gigs can help you put your skills to use.
13. Nonfiction Author
Writing nonfiction books can be an excellent source of income for a writer. Your best bet here is to pick a topic that you’re an expert on, then find an approach that you can really make your own. If you can create a niche and write multiple books in that area, you can establish a thriving career writing and publishing nonfiction books.
Just like with fiction authors, writing multiple books in one area or series is the best strategy for building a full-time income. Also like with fiction books, you can choose to go through a traditional publisher or self-publish your nonfiction works. It all depends on how involved you want to be with the technical parts of the publishing process.
14. Magazine Writer
There are thousands of magazines available throughout the world. From glossy newsstand magazines like those you see on racks at the grocery store or airport to association magazines and trade journals, there’s a magazine for every topic, in print or online.
And all those magazines need articles written for them!
It can be difficult to break into writing for the best-known magazines; those tend to have regular groups of writers they work with often or even have staff members writing most of their articles. However, even big magazines are often willing to take pitches from new writers. Your best bet here is to send in a query pitching a short piece for a section at the front of the magazine; freelancers have the best chances here.
If you’re an expert on a particular topic, search for trade journals or association magazines on the subject. These publications often don’t pay much, if at all, but they help you to gain visibility in the industry and get additional publication credits for your portfolio, which will help you find more and better paying jobs at larger publications.
Not everyone has your way with words—and that’s okay, because you can do the writing for them!
Ghostwriters interview clients and help them create an outline of the book they want to create, then work to develop themes, cover important topics, and craft a well-written book using the client’s thoughts, expertise, and experiences.
This is a great job for someone who likes to talk to people and is good at coaxing ideas out of a busy or distracted executive or politician. You also have to be someone who doesn’t mind working behind the scenes, as ghostwriters are almost never credited publicly for their work.
That anonymity is usually balanced by a nice paycheck, as ghostwriting services can run from a few thousand dollars up into the tens of thousands per book.
If you’re looking for ghostwriting clients, you can apply for our ghostwriter program here.
Much like ghostwriters, speechwriters need to have a way with words and be comfortable with being anonymous. Politicians, executives, and other high-profile speakers don’t usually write their speeches themselves; instead, they hire speechwriters to craft their talks on their behalf, bringing extra verve and style to the table.
To excel at this job, you’ll need to be able to write quickly on a range of topics, keep up-to-date on politics or on the happenings in the business field (depending on who your clients are), and be able to quickly capture an audience’s attention with your writing. You might want to join Toastmasters, a group that helps members develop public speaking skills, to get a better idea of how cadence and presentation can be worked into your speeches to help your client bring audiences to their feet.
You’ll also need to be able to adapt your style and your client’s message to the target audience for a given speaking engagement, so flexibility is key here!
If you’ve lived a fascinating life full of adventure and intrigue, overcome a major obstacle, solved a huge problem many people face, or inspired others with your life’s work, you might want to consider becoming a memoirist!
Memoirs are the personal thoughts and memories of an individual, presented as a book. This isn’t just the realm of Holocaust survivor stories or uplifting inspirational recollections. Modern memoirists also detail aspects of their more mundane struggles, like cutting sugar from their diets or downsizing into a tiny house.
The best memoirs take an experience or challenge that many people can relate to and make it deeply personal…while still helping readers see how your own experiences can help them make the best of their lives.
Instead of writing about your own life, how about writing about the lives of others? Biographers study the lives of contemporary or historical figures to determine what shaped them and how they became known.
You’ll need to be an excellent researcher, as telling the stories of some historical figures may involve diving into dusty archives or ferreting out information that others haven’t found before. You’ll also need to be able to put a fresh twist on a story—if you’re writing about a well-known figure, you’ll need to find a way to make the story feel new, while if you’re writing about someone no one’s ever heard of, you’ll have to quickly make clear why they need to know about this person.
For someone who loves to share inspiring lessons from the past and how influential people have shaped history, this could be an ideal career path.
19. Textbook Author
If you have a deep knowledge of a particular topic and a knack for explaining technical things clearly, you might make a great textbook author!
Big academic publishers frequently revise older editions of their textbooks and this can be a great way to get into the field—rather than writing a full textbook all at once, you might just update a few chapters to fit with recent developments or discoveries.
There are also indie publishing opportunities with textbooks. As online learning is becoming more prevalent, smaller academic publishers are popping up to create low-cost, interactive digital textbooks that offer more flexibility than traditional hardcover textbooks. There are also opportunities to write for K–12 courses, not just college courses, as more school districts are looking for targeted learning resources.
You might also be able to find work with a local university or community college annotating existing textbooks for busy professors, or creating worksheets for classes and labs.
20. Travel Writer
The only thing better than getting to travel is getting paid to travel!
Of course, that means that there are a lot of travel writers and aspiring travel writers around, so this can be a hard career to break into.
Still, if you have a flair for vivid imagery and can paint a picture of the places you’ve been and the things you’ve experienced while traveling, this could be a fantastic career option.
One of the best ways to break into the travel writing area is to find a spin that’s uniquely yours. If you’re great with traveling in style on a tight budget, you could submit articles to frugal travel websites, pitch a column to a family magazine on how to get a luxury vacation on the cheap, or even start your own blog on the subject. How about writing about traveling while you work? Or specializing in family travel to exotic locations?
Tying your articles to amazing pictures on Instagram will help you gain a following and make it easier to pitch your articles to magazines and websites, because you can show you have an audience that might read the publication you’re writing for.
21. How-To Writer
Are you good at breaking complex tasks down into easy-to-follow steps? You’d make a great how-to writer! No matter what skill you’re an expert in, there’s someone else who wants to learn.
You can identify a niche and start pitching articles to magazines and websites in that area, or you can start your own blog on the topic. Consider writing about how to do DIY home projects, how to decorate your home, how to create a sustainable garden or yard, how to build your own furniture, and more. What about articles on how to keep bees or weave rugs? Fix your own iPhone? The options are really endless!
22. Food Writer
One of the most delicious career options has to be food writing. From restaurant reviews to recipe development, there are quite a few areas that can call on your skills at whipping up a great meal and then describing it accurately and vividly for others.
You can publish a cookbook through a traditional publisher or issue it yourself, offer your services as a restaurant reviewer to a local newspaper or hyperlocal website, or even approach local cafes and restaurants to offer to help them overhaul their menus to be more descriptive and appealing.
23. Arts Writer
Much like food writers, arts writers often attend events and produce reviews. Here, though, you’ll be concentrating on art gallery openings, museum exhibitions, theatre performances, concerts, books, and more.
You can find your unique niche, like writing about underground punk concerts or yarnbombing installations, or you can work for a larger publication covering all the theatre events in your city. Many websites look for art writing on various topics, such as book reviews or visual arts coverage, so you can start pitching your work right away.
You’ll need to be able to vividly describe a piece of art, music, or theatre in terms that make people feel like they were there. You’ll also need a thick skin—being a reviewer often means giving critical reviews, and there will be plenty of people who think that critics should be neither seen nor heard! But remember, critics help people figure out whether a work is right for them, so giving your honest, thoughtful opinion is helpful as long as you’re not trying to cut someone down.
If you want to be your own boss and build your own publication from the ground up, being a blogger could be a perfect career choice for you. You can write on any topic you please, so long as you’re producing content regularly and you’re offering value to your readers.
As you start gaining a following, you can add affiliate links and paid advertising to your site; some bloggers also do sponsored posts that are paid for by a particular company.
So why not take advantage of your amazing expertise in underwater basketweaving to create the go-to online destination for how-tos, news, photos, and creative posts on that subject?
Get Paid for Business Writing
There’s a whole market out there for business writing, from cover letters to grants and much more.
25. Technical Writer
Technical documentation, product specifications, test plans, white papers, requests for proposals, and more are all the purview of the technical writer.
Being a technical writer takes a lot of specialized skill and often a deep knowledge of a particular industry, as you’ll frequently be writing high-level documents intended for experts in that area. You might write papers explaining a breakthrough by R&D researchers in a particular company, turn design specifications into formal plans for manufacturing, or create official requests for proposals for bids on a project.
Technical writers are frequently members of a company’s in-house team, but really skilled writers specializing in one field can often find work as a freelancer. If you do work as a freelance technical writer, you’ll often have to sign a non-disclosure agreement stating that you won’t discuss any important proprietary information you learn about that client while writing their technical documentation.
26. Grant Writer
Many universities and nonprofits need help getting access to funding. That’s where grant writers come in.
In this field, you’ll be compiling materials in support of an application for a grant from a government department, foundation, charity, or other source. You’ll need to be able to do solid research, follow directions perfectly, and write very persuasively to convince the grant board that your client deserves the money it’s asking for.
Skilled grant writers can make a very good living working with a variety of clients across industries. Any organization that needs to compete for funding could use a good grant writer!
27. Resume and Cover Letter Writer
Most people dread updating their resume and writing a cover letter. It seems like a horrible chore to condense all you’ve done into a single page that will barely get glanced at by a recruiter.
If, on the other hand, you think that presenting someone’s work history, skills, and expertise in a simple, clear, brief format is an exciting challenge, you’d make a great resume writer!
In this largely freelance field, you’ll help job-seekers polish up their resumes, focus on what’s really important for the next job they’d like to have, write a compelling cover letter, and maybe even tune up their LinkedIn profile.
You’ll need to combine the talents of a marketing copywriter with the personal touch of a career coach, homing in on what makes your client special and how to help them stand out at a glance.
28. Business Plan Writer
Combine the skills of a resume writer with those of a grant writer and you get the business plan writer!
As more people flex their entrepreneurial muscles, there are increasing opportunities for freelancers who can distill someone’s business vision into a thorough, clear document that can be presented to banks, investors, and others to help the business get funding.
You’ll need to be able to understand complex business topics, analytics, financial information, and more and be able to craft storylines out of this to explain why an investor should want to back the business. You’ll also need solid research skills to help uncover possible market competition or opportunities that should be presented in the plan.
Being a whiz with PowerPoint will also help here; if you can transform your business plan into a pitch deck for your client, you’ll be invaluable!
29. Instructions Writer
These days, it seems like nearly everything comes with an instruction manual, either in print or online. And someone has to write all those instructions!
In most cases, these booklets are created in-house at the company that manufactures or retails the product being described. However, many smaller companies may not have an in-house writing team and will need help getting a good, easy-to-follow set of instructions written.
If you have a manufacturing industry in your town, consider reaching out to see if they need help with the instructions for their products. With a few jobs in your portfolio, you can start marketing your services writing clear instructions to more and more companies in the industry you’re interested in—or even find a full-time, in-house job as an instructions writer, if you want!
30. Executive Assistant
No, this isn’t a mistake—executive assistant can be a great job for a writer! You’re not just fetching coffee and managing conference room bookings here; you’re helping draft business memos, write formal correspondence, manage emails, and more.
If you have an impeccable professional persona and you’re able to juggle many tasks and deadlines at once, this could be a good fit for you. You’ll help your boss make sure that emails are responded to clearly and thoroughly (and on time!), prep for presentations and speeches, and more—maybe even managing the company newsletter or assisting with generating reports and studies for the board or various clients.
31. Marketing Copywriter
Ad and marketing copywriting isn’t all Mad Men antics and midafternoon whiskey breaks. It’s actually a complicated fusion of business insights, creative writing skills, consumer psychology, and out-of-the-box thinking that all mixes together to create memorable, catchy ad campaigns to sell products or services to consumers.
Marketing copywriters work on everything from TV ad campaigns to billboards, magazine ads, online banner ads, creative Snapchat campaigns, product packaging, direct mail flyers, and more.
Whether you’re working in-house or as a freelancer, you’ll often work with a graphic designer to pair the right words and images for maximum effect.
If you’re already working a full-time job, you might be able to build your copywriting portfolio by offering to do some work with the marketing department; if your company doesn’t have a dedicated marketing department, offer to do some copywriting to help boost the company’s latest initiative.
Alternatively, you can also reach out to local businesses or even colleges in your area to pitch your services as a marketing copywriter to start building your portfolio. You can also offer to swap your services with other freelancers if you need work done—how about trading a tagline and some website writing to a graphic designer in exchange for getting a new business logo?
32. B2B Copywriter
B2B (business-to-business) copywriters help businesses sell their products or services to other businesses, rather than directly to end consumers. If you’re a whiz at increasing conversion rates and can sell ice to a penguin, this could be your perfect career.
As with most writing careers, you’ll need samples of your work and proof that you get good results with your work, but it’s fairly easy to get started by offering to help write landing pages or improve sales scripts for some local companies or setting up a profile on Upwork or Fiverr to get some small jobs to build your portfolio.
33. Social Media Writer
As companies realize that they need to be on social media, they are also starting to realize that they need help keeping up with all the content required there. Social media writers craft Facebook posts, Twitter updates, Pinterest boards, and more to help companies connect with their audiences.
You’ll need a good understanding of audience outreach and what types of posts and content work best on what channels. You’ll also need a good grasp of analytics to help you show the ROI for your work and what social media investments are paying off for the company.
Having multimedia capabilities is a bonus here—if you can design an infographic, create image posts for visual media like Instagram or Pinterest, or produce videos for Facebook and Snapchat, you’ll be in high demand as a social media writer!
34. Media Relations Specialist
Bridging the gap between a business writer and a journalist is the media relations specialist. As part of a company’s communications department (or as a freelancer), you’ll help companies connect with journalists and publications to spread the word about their products and services.
You’ll often find yourself writing press releases and arranging (or even giving) interviews about your company’s or client’s services. Hopefully you won’t frequently be doing damage control over some crisis or scandal, although that’s also part of the job!
If you’ve previously worked as a journalist, this might be a fantastic new career for you—knowing what journalists need and want to get from their contacts will make it easier for you to craft solid pitches that bring excellent media exposure for your clients.
Earning a Living in Journalism
Ever dreamed of becoming a journalist? With so many online platforms, there are more opportunities than ever.
35. Newspaper Reporter
Even in today’s fast-paced digital world, there’s still a thriving market for newspapers. Plenty of people want the day’s news, opinions, stock market moves, and more delivered to their door in the morning—and as more newspapers expand their online operations, there are actually new jobs for agile reporters being created.
As a newspaper journalist, you’ll probably start out by working for a local daily, weekly, or monthly paper that covers activities in your town. You might get sent to a town board meeting one day and a high school basketball game the next—one thing’s for sure, you’ll never get bored with the same old routine!
You’ll need excellent interviewing skills, a good memory (or fast note-taking and transcription abilities), and an ability to get along well with others while still asking probing questions to get to the heart of a story or the best angle for your coverage. You’ll also need to be willing to work strange hours—reporters have to be available to cover news whenever it happens, and you’ll often have assignments on nights and weekends.
With experience, you can move up to a larger paper in a bigger market, help develop online offerings for your paper, or become what’s called a “stringer” for a news service like AP or Reuters. Basically, you’ll be a freelancer covering breaking news in your area or on your beat (your topic of expertise) and you’ll file stories that newspapers all over the world can pick up and run—with your byline on them. Pretty cool!
36. News Blogger
Similar to a newspaper reporter, a news blogger is always looking for the latest scoop. But in this case, rather than reporting for a print publication with an online component, you’ll be working for a fast-paced online publication.
In many cases, breaking news sites need writers available 24/7 to cover whatever happens next in the world—so this can be a great job for night owls or people who like working unconventional hours.
You might also work covering news in a particular industry, like mining news or business openings and closings. Many trade or association websites need associate editors monitoring all the happenings in their industry and blogging about this breaking news to keep their audience up to date.
37. Long-Form Journalist
Though many lamented the death of long-form writing when the internet seemed to slash all our attention spans, the field is undergoing a renaissance…thanks to the internet! Sites like Medium encourage readers to engage with pieces that go beyond the bite-sized into really in-depth discussions of weighty topics.
Plus, more magazines, newspapers, weekly editions, and other publications are starting to include long-form articles in their mix again. Readers want to know more about what’s going on behind the scenes, and long-form journalists are able to dive deep into a topic to present not just what’s going on now, but what led to it and where it might be going in the future.
If you love researching and presenting a topic in all its complexity, this could be a rewarding path to pursue. You’ll need to be good at developing a narrative voice and shaping themes around a nonfiction topic, much like a nonfiction book author would do, but you’ll also need to be able to condense all that information into a mid-range length—something that takes an hour or two to read, rather than a few minutes or a few days.
38. Investigative Journalist
Deep cuts to the budgets of many newspapers and news TV shows left naysayers fearing that hard-hitting investigative journalism was becoming a thing of the past. After all, who would pay people to dig deep into political scandals, economic crises, environmental issues, or social movements if the newspapers were going broke? The internet is just for entertainment, right?
Wrong! Investigative journalism is alive and well—and often funded by websites that want to do more than simply publish listicles about cat videos. In fact, some of the most powerful investigative and cultural journalism of recent times has appeared on Buzzfeed, a site that made its name as a mindless pop-culture haven.
Lately, though, Buzzfeed and other sites have started breaking news about spying rings, digging into celebrity and political scandals, uncovering bad behavior by tech companies that can jeopardize consumer privacy, and more.
If you love finding out the truth behind a story, this career is for you! You’ll need a lot of patience and perseverance, as tracking down your scoop will require doing lots of interviews, pinning down sources, wading through government information requests and huge stacks of complex documents, and more.
But the end result of informing and enlightening your audience while pushing for change and reform? Totally worth it.
Newspapers, websites, magazines, and other publications often rely on the opinions of informed individuals to round out their coverage. Becoming a columnist is a great way to share your expertise and opinions with a broader audience.
Most columnists start out with a smaller publication, whether that’s their hometown newspaper or a trade magazine. To get the job, you’ll want to send samples of your work on a particular topic, demonstrating how you can add a fresh voice to the conversation and provoke interaction from readers.
The best columnists don’t just stand on a soapbox; they get other people talking and continue engagement across channels, no matter what they’re writing about.
So as you can see, there’s pretty much an ideal career path for anyone who’s interested in making money writing. And getting started in any of these areas is really just a matter of putting your mind to it, learning the craft, and investing time and effort in your work.
At first, you may need to put in some long hours outside your day job to build your skills and to create some samples to show to potential employers, especially if you’re transitioning from a different area into a writing career. But if you spend just an hour or two a day on writing some articles and sending them out in your area of interest, you may find yourself building up enough of a side hustle writing that you can decide to make it your full-time career!
With all these options, it’s clear: there’s a writing career for everyone. Which path will you take?
Check out even more strategies for how to make a full-time living as an author:
- 16 Ways to Increase Your Author Earnings and Earn a Full-Time Income as an Author
- 8 Ways to Increase Your Income for Writers and Authors
- Get Paid to Write Short Stories: 22 Places That Will Buy Your Fiction
Kate Sullivan is an editor with experience in every aspect of the publishing industry, from editorial to marketing to cover and interior design.
In her career, Kate has edited millions of words and helped dozens of bestselling, award-winning authors grow their careers and do what they love!