Anyone who considers themselves a writer will hear the question time and again, “How can I become a writer?” Many times this question comes from friends and family members who think that working as a freelance content writer is an easy job. After all, freelance writers sit in Starbucks all day and get paid to play on the computer. Most of the time, I tell people that it requires four years of accounting classes and a diploma from the school of hard knocks—since that is my background. However, occasionally someone who may actually have an interest in this fascinating, but tricky, field poses the question. When someone asks the question, “How can I become a writer?” here are a few ways you can answer.
- One of the best pieces of advice you can give someone interested in becoming a writer is to tell them to read up on the subject. The best information about becoming a freelancer content writer is not necessarily from a book or even a professional website. Often the best information is that which writers themselves share. There are tons of blogs, web pages and forums full of “real life” advice, stories and information about becoming a writer.
- Another great suggestion is to point potential writers towards a reputable content production company. While many freelance content writers, myself included, take on private clients, many of us got started writing for a content firm. There are many sites out there, some of which are not very reputable. Helping your acquaintance get his or her foot in the door with a quality firm will give them a great start.
- One of the best gifts you can give a potential writer is some one-on-one assistance. When he or she decides to take on a small project or apply for a position, offer to proofread the document. If you have spent time in the industry, you know what types of errors get picked up by editors.
- Finally, be real and up front with your friend. Make sure he or she knows that writing is a tough profession. Most freelance writers do not get benefits, work year-round with no paid vacation, work more than 40 hours a week and have to constantly deal with criticism. While this may seem harsh, it’s true, and by sharing the down side of the business, you may save someone a lot of up front effort.
Working as a writer is not for the faint of heart. It is a labor of love as much as any other profession. Only someone who truly loves the business can succeed for the long haul. Maybe your friend will share the passion with you, and maybe not, but it is best to be prepared for when you hear that inevitable question.
Tracy S is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.