1. kristin70
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    kristin70 New Member

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    Copywriting, technical writing, novel writing- how did you choose?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by kristin70, Jan 10, 2013.

    Hi all!

    I'm at somewhat of a crossroads in life as I've recently been laid off. *sigh This "time off" has allowed me the time to ponder what truly makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. I've found that writing does the trick. I'm 42 and only learned this in the last 2 years, when I blogged (with humor) about my journey through breast cancer. I'm alright now...phew. I've taken zero writing courses and have never published anything other than my blog. My fans have kindly stated "you should really write...you have a gift." Although that is lovely to hear, how do I know writing will bring in the cold hard cash? I really don't want to succumb to making cheap internet porn to make ends meet. Well not really, that was just kinda fun to say. Anyway, this brings me to my post....

    Do most of you get paid for your rants? How did you know what type of writing to focus your energy on- be it, copywriting, tech writing and the like? Are there online courses that you have taken that did wonders for you? What is another word for synonym? I'm currently debating on whether to fork out the money (that I really don't have) to take AWAI Copywriting Course. Well that about sums it up. Thanks for reading and even more thanks for responding:)

    Peace
     
  2. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I haven't made a dime writing, but if someone were buying, I'd sell out, lock stock and barrel. I've only made a couple of submissions. I write for my own enjoyment, and a therapy of sorts. Plus, I get to get even with the jackasses we all encounter ... I put them into a story.

    Also, welcome to the forum.
     
  3. kristin70
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    kristin70 New Member

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    Hi Thump! Thanks for saying "hello!" I bet you'd sell out:) I'm originally from Houston but transplanted to L.A. and love it. Writing IS great therapy isn't it? I love that you create characters from "jackasses" you encounter. HA! Thank you for the kind welcome! BTW, how did you upload a pic? I've tried with no luck. I'm wondering if there's a gliche?
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Hi, kristin. I, too, haven't made any money as a freelancer, but I used to have a job that involved an awful lot of technical writing, and I got paid for that. I don't really recommend it - it's dull, dull, dull work, even if you helped develop the systems you're documenting (I'm an engineer by profession and I've done a lot of that kind of work).

    Best of luck, though, and welcome to the forum!
     
  5. kristin70
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    kristin70 New Member

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    Hi Minstrel! Thanks for the warm welcome:) I had heard technical writing can lack some luster but hey, you got paid and that's not bad.
     
  6. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Welcome to the forums!

    The only writing I get paid for is the writing I do at work (mostly writing reports). I'd say less than 5% of my time at work is spent writing. It's just something that's part of the job and not something I focused my attention on.

    When I write in my spare time, I usually write fiction because I read mostly fiction and because I find writing fiction to be more enjoyable than writing essays or articles.

    It's very hard to bring in cash writing just fiction, however. From a practical point of view, you're probably better of focusing your time on technical writing or copywriting. I do know one guy who works as a freelance writer, and he makes a pretty good living. I'm not really sure how he got started with this, so I can't be of much help there.
     
  7. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    It looks like you've got the pic thing worked out.

    I'm originally from Dallas, moved to Ventura after a good spell of traveling, and have come back home, to Austin ... we're kinda backwards, eh?

    I took to writing on a lark, almost. I had taken Eng Comp in college and for one assignment I did a rough draft of a really bad day I had overseas (I'd lived in Iran for four years back in the 70s). I didn't turn that in, I went with something else, but I saved the draft. Fast forward 13 years, I log in to AOL the first time and start meeting online folk and one of 'em asks me if I've ever written. "Yeah," I answer, and send her this draft. She wants to read more, but I got nothin' ... so I start writing. Four months later, I have a book.

    Once I jumped in, it became something else entirely. I wanted to entertain Barb, of course, but I found myself reliving a lot of stuff I'd buried, and it was pretty cathartic. Anyway, I was happy enough that I haven't really tried to sell it, although I've got a couple or writerly friends, including the "Roberteaux" quoted in my sig, who say it would move. I'm happy just knowing that it's on paper.
     
  8. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    In real life, I'm a copywriter. I write fiction in my spare time. I've actually found doing both to be quite beneficial, since a lot of techniques overlap. Copywriting techniques help you pull your readers through your book and leave them wanting more, and nothing sells like a good story.

    I learned on the job rather than taking a course, but I'm told the AWAI one is good.

    If you're thinking about copywriting as a career, I'd suggest buying and reading the following:

    Write to Sell - Andy Maslen: somewhat basic if you've done copywriting before, but a good primer if you haven't
    Influence - Robert Cialdini: a book on psychology rather than copywriting, but full of stuff on how people can be persuaded
    How to Write Sales Letters That Sell - Drayton Bird: one of the best books on direct mail I've read

    If you read those 3, try writing a few letters and enjoy it, it might be worth investing in training.
     
  9. PaulKemp24
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    PaulKemp24 Member

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    Kristin-

    There are only a few things in life that are never too late to start and fortunately writing is one of them. There's a children's author who didn't begin writing until his 60's and he's now in his 70's and has had several books published (his name escapes me right now). My advice would be to not throw all your eggs in the writing basket if you are in a position where you need money -- especially at age 42 with no experience. Try to find a stable job to pay the bills and then use your free time to write and overlap the two. The long-term goal would be to phase out the stable job and phase in the writing work until you can support yourself full-time with the writing. Now that's just my two cents and obviously I don't know anything about you or your financial situation or anything like that so take it for what it's worth and nothing more. My only point is that writing for a full-time living isn't easy.

    I was a newspaper reporter for 4 years. There's not much money in it unless you're lucky enough to land at a large-market paper, and that's about 3% of all newspaper reporters in the country. For every one Chicago Tribune writer there's a dozen writers for the Podunk Press who make 23k a year.

    After being laid off, I spent the next couple years working as a freelancer for various newspapers, magazines and online stuff. It's tough because you spend 95% of your time pitching story ideas and trying to sell your work. The money can be good when you do land an assignment but there can be long dry periods in between assignments. There are some people who make a very comfortable living as freelancers but they are few and far between (and I'll be forever jealous of those people).

    Seek out a copy of writer's market. Basically everything you ever need to know about freelance writing is in there. I would bet that you can find some magazines in there about cancer that would welcome "my experience" pieces. Check it out.

    There are plenty of people who make money off of blogging, which is what you have experience with. I can't offer any advice there because I've never written a blog but if it's money you're after than a blog might be the way to go for someone with no journalism or writing background. Since you do have experience battling cancer than I would seek out that avenue. There may be writing/blogging opportunities for things like the american cancer society and stuff like that. You may have a niche there.

    Personally, I think a humorous book about your experience with breast cancer would be great. Considering how many people are affected by cancer, a humorous book documenting your experiences might just hit the spot for many people who are going through the same. Basically, turn your blogs into a book.

    Glad to hear that you've discovered the itch to write.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    welcome, kristen!

    when i started writing professionally, i wrote anything that took words... in addition to freelancing for magazines/newspapers and writing my own novels, song lyrics, non-fiction, poetry, etc., i ran a writing consultant business and wrote whatever clients needed... which included even creative dunning letters to joan rivers and 'the donald' for a famous trompe l'oiel artist who was being stiffed for his work on rivers' manhattan condo and a mural for 'the taj' in atlantic city...

    so, you don't really have to focus on only one or two kinds of writing, if you're able to write well in a range of mediums...

    and i wouldn't advise spending money on a course unless you can't learn to write well for that field on your own...

    googling for that course, i see a raft of warnings against it... so i'd suggest thinking twice... it's a lot of money...
     
  11. Sam Edge
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    Sam Edge Member

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    Is that a jewish place of worship?
     
  12. Sam Edge
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    Sam Edge Member

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    I am In the same boat. I started Blogging just because I love to write. For work I am a Urban Planning Consultant and I do allot of report writing that pays pretty good. I wouldn't call it "writing". I would love to do something like writing assignments or journalism for a living but I have no idea where to start. If you figure it out let me know. :)
     
  13. PaulKemp24
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    PaulKemp24 Member

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    Journalism as a full-time job is awfully hard to come by without a degree in journalism, english or public relations. There are rare exceptions to this rule, but they are RARE (talking real journalism here, not blogging).

    If you have no background or experience or a related degree, you're best bet is to buy a copy of Writer's Market (there's another one similar to Writer's Market but I can't think of the name). This will get you pointed in the right direction to step into the world of freelance writing. Freelance writing is where you won't necessarily need a related degree (though it obviously helps) like you would as an actual staff writer. If you can write, you can get published. Simple as that. Pitch story ideas or even completed stories to newspapers and magazines. Start small -- when I was in college I wrote small features for the local weekly paper and they paid me $35 per story. It wasn't much, but they were byline stories that provided the building block. Using those clips, I was later able to land a gig writing features for an aviation magazine for $50 per story. Still not much, but it was a raise and another step up the ladder. Then I used those clips to take another step up the ladder and so on. Contact your local weekly or community newspapers and see what their policy is on "stringers" (a.k.a. freelancers). Do the same with any local magazines in your area. Brainstorm some story ideas, learn how to write a proposal (which the Writer's Market book will teach you) and get cracking. Best of luck :)
     
  14. Sam Edge
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    Sam Edge Member

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    Well I do have a three years of an English Degree - that I switched mid stream to double major in Economics and Geography (5 year undergrad with English minor - get tired just writing about it) and a Masters in Urban Planning. I wold love to break into freelance of some sort even on a part time basis. i currently run a small consulting business and have the luxury if some free time to develop a new path. The bad news is I am in my mid forties. I think I will check out this Writers Market Book and get cracking!! Lots of good reasons not to and only one good reason to do it - because I can! Thanks for the pointers :) I think I'm excited.
     
  15. PaulKemp24
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    PaulKemp24 Member

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    Definitely. Robert Lee Brewer is the name accredited to the book if you need to look it up. They publish a new one every year with updated information. If you get published once the book pays for itself. Read every single word on the first 200 pages or so. This is where they give you a crash course in the world of freelance writing. You'll learn a ton. Find what you're interested in writing about and with any luck you'll be a starving barefoot writer like the rest of us in no time haha.
     
  16. Sam Edge
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    Sam Edge Member

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    Maybe I get keep my shoes on. :)
     
  17. lucyarden
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    lucyarden New Member

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    Hi, Kristin!

    My name's Lucy, and I'd been struggling with the answer to this as well a short while ago. It seems like you're a relatively creative person, so editing and proofreading might not be the best choices for you. I dabble in a bit of everything, be it guest posting for money, writing freelance articles, or writing novels as well as short stories. I've earned a decent amount from a website called Constant Content, where you can write articles, price them however you wish, and answer requests. I'd also recommend Freelancer, which has a variety of writing projects for you to take up. But the writing market I've probably made the most from is writing greeting cards. It takes just a week or two to perfect the art by Googling 'how to write greeting cards'--or, at least, in my case, it did. Once you have a basic grasp of writing greeting cards, I'd recommend submitting to Blue Mountain Arts. They pay 300 dollars per greeting card submission--one of the highest paying greeting card companies out there. And if you're worried you don't have enough wit to write short, funny greeting cards, Blue Mountain Arts also takes slightly longer, sentimental greeting cards, so you're in luck.

    I hope that helped you out! I'd definitely recommend greeting card writing. Novel-writing is an interesting, profitable market too, but only if you have the patience, time, and motivation--which most of us antsy writers don't. It seems like you're looking for some money soon, so if I were you, I'd try my hand at greeting card writing. (To get more information on writing, take a look at my blog at http://www.howtowriteandwritewell.blogspot.com.)

    -Lucy from http://www.howtowriteandwritewell.blogspot.com
     

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