Arguably, Charles Bukowski was not the nicest human being. He was a smoker, prolific drinker, and a womanizer. He worked in a series of blue-collar jobs, notably at the post office, on the rail yard, and at various shops and stores before making enough money as a writer to quit. When he took up writing full time, he was 49-years-old.
Good news. You are not Charles Bukowski. And as an on-staff writer, it is possible for you to make more money writing in a month than Bukowski made from his writing in a year, which to be fair was about 50 bucks. (If you don’t believe me, pick up a copy of Charles Bukowski on Writing, it’s there in all its gory detail). So what took Bukowski so long to make some cold hard cash? Isn’t writing easy?
“There’s nothing to writing,” said Hemingway. “You just sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
On the surface, being a writer is a simple job. There’s you, the laptop, and your imagination, right? Well, that’s true, but that visual merely scratches the surface. Truth be told, there’s a lot more to writing than the physical act of writing.
Writers can get by with bad spelling and grammar if they have a good editor to guide them. But there are essential skills that all writers should have. Writers must be able to communicate, observe, generate ideas, and have the ability to problem solve. Even if you’re writing from a shed at the bottom of your garden (lucky you!), you will also need people skills so you can pitch, manage your stakeholders, and take feedback on your work.
As a paid writer, you will also need to be creative on demand. Try telling your boss you have writer’s block when you’re accountable for a deadline! (It’s nonsense anyway. Writer’s block is simply an excuse for procrastination). Last, but certainly not least, writers need to know the art of storytelling. Storytelling has become a buzzword in the last couple of years, but as a writer, it’s the most important part of your craft. And once you dedicate time to learning that craft, it will make your writing higher quality.
“if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
searching for words,
don’t do it.”
– Charles Bukowski
If all this sounds harder work than you thought, it’s not too late to turn back. There are plenty of other career options for you to look at. But if you’re committed, I’ll let you in on another secret. It helps to specialize. Don’t try to do everything, be good at one thing and you’ll build up a reputation for it.
Are you at the beginning of your career, looking for a step up, a step sideways, or a complete about turn? The easiest thing you can do to help make your decision about what path to take is to research the options. Take note of what makes you happy, what you’re curious about.
Consider whether the role will energize you, or having you wish you’d never applied for the role in the first place.
Without further ado, here are the top marketing roles hat leverage writing skills:
A Copywriter is tasked with producing the written content that is combined with visual elements in promotional material. He or she will write slogans, radio and TV scripts and Internet content, as well provide written material for everything from sales letters and catalog copy to white papers and email campaigns. Learn more about the role
Technical Writers put technical information into easy-to-understand language. They often take high-level research, complex data or a company’s internal information and put it into terms that a layman can use. A Technical Writer may be required to write software manuals, textbooks, technical online content, product instructions, employee manuals, policy manuals, grants, how-to manuals, etc. Learn more about the role
Content Editors are responsible for all aspects of content, which includes development, design, production, presentation, evaluation and analysis, to name a few. They will use data and feedback from users to help evaluate and enhance the value of a set of written materials and websites. Learn more about the role
A Communications Specialist is an integral part of creating and delivering information, both inside and outside of a company. In a fast-moving marketing landscape, a communication specialist needs to be agile, flexible, strategic and tactical. A Communications Specialist needs to have a strong grasp of strategic goals, as well the ability to tactically execute. Learn more about the role
A Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist analyzes, reviews and implements changes to websites, so they are optimized for search engines. An SEO Specialist will analyze websites for improvements, have an in-depth knowledge of keyword research, understand SEO copywriting and serve a liaison between various departments. Learn more about the role
SEM Specialists (Search Engine Marketing) work on behalf of organizations to ensure that when audiences search for specific and relevant content using internet search engines, the websites for the organizations they work for appear within the top result. SEM specialists may assist in planning and managing online advertising campaigns, updating websites with new technologies that drive search results and make business cases for further SEM expenditure. Learn more about the role
“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.” – Stephen King
How do you know that you’re meant to be a writer? Simple. You write. It’s more important for you to be a verb than it is to be a noun. How are you spending your time? That’s where you’ll find your career path. So, don’t be a writer, be writing.
Do you have any advice for aspiring marketing writers? We’d love to hear from you. Have your say in the comments below.