Many people dream about quitting their day job so that they can write for a living. But did you know that it’s also possible to write for a living and dream of doing something else?
Maybe career progress isn’t easy to come by (the number of writers versus editor vacancies are pretty lopsided, after all), or maybe you could do without another day of blindly producing another thousand-word article just for the sake of content.
And on top of all that, you might want your cake and eat it too—as in you’re not ready to start over in a totally new career. Well then, why not give the careers below a try?
These are opportunities I’ve personally had experience with or, at the very least, been offered a job in. So if someone like me who only has writing qualifications can land them, then so can you.
Okay, I’m cheating with this first entry, as it’s pretty much still a writing gig. But hey, at least you’ll be in a different rung on the corporate ladder. People in comms usually work closely with the bosses or CEOs, which means that you’ll also be a gatekeeper of information more often than not.
Everything that has to do with communications flows in and out of the comms department, so you get to play editor sometimes, even as an executive. You’ll get lotsa people currying you for favours (to get their marketing creatives approved, for one), but you’ll also need to learn everything about the company so that you’ll know what’s publishable and what not. When I was in the aviation industry, for example, we weren’t allowed to use words like ‘crash’.
The downside? You become a frontliner once the shit hits the fan. A customer complaint goes viral? Guess who’s waking up at midnight to put out the fire. Damage control didn’t go so well? Guess who’s getting burnt.
Writers are good with words, and they’re also mostly introverts. That’s a perfect combination of traits for would-be emcees because, believe it or not, introverts are better at addressing crowds than at chatting with a few people during lunch.
I know I’m making assumptions here, but a writer’s denser vocabulary goes hand-in-hand with public speaking. They’re the ones that typically don’t need a script, but if they do, then writing one isn’t that big of a deal.
Some of you won’t like the limelight, and that’s fine, but for those who do, this can be a pretty interesting career path that could take you places.
Yep. I actually did this during my time in a tech startup. It was just one of my many responsibilities then, as everybody in a startup was expected to wear many hats. But you know what? Another company saw what I did and actually offered me a job to solely write chatbot scripts.
I didn’t take the offer because that line of work didn’t interest me that much then. But for you guys who love a more predictable and linear workflow, then this might be for you.
What you basically have to do is to picture your customers’ needs when they fire up the chatbot, and work on a way from getting them from point A to point B. Bonus points if you can make it entertaining, because people aren’t stupid, and they’ll know when they’re chatting with a bot, so the point isn’t to replace a human, but to make your visitors say, “Ha, that’s good.”
Also, it’d be great if you actually solved their problems instead of giving them ten irrelevant options that take them nowhere.
Remember that part about public speaking? You can take it one step further and become a trainer for a subject of your choosing. And if you’re like the many other writers out there, you were probably on a totally different trajectory before you started writing for a living. So your working experience is definitely one place to start.
Also, you could also be required to come up with an entire syllabus, maybe even prepare the necessary learning materials, and guess whose job that’s going to be? Of course, even if you weren’t involved in the creation of said syllabus, you’d most probably be doing the proofreading anyway.
I myself have just currently pivoted from mainly writing for a living to conducting digital marketing classes as well as being a mentor for mobile journalism. One’s paid and the other’s a volunteer project. And you know what? I think I may have just found my new niche.
This is a little on the niched end, but I have had a couple of assignments that were entirely video based. So my job was to digest a company’s profile, learn what the video team’s plan was, and create a script for the voiceover talent to read over said video.
You’ll quickly learn that what looks good on paper doesn’t necessarily translate well to voice, especially if you live in a multicultural society like Malaysia where the local idiosyncrasies and diverse figures of speech come into play.
Sometimes you might even write radio ads. It’s a pretty interesting field, though opportunities might be limited, especially seeing how most creative agencies already have copywriters on hand to do this.
Honourable mention: Book consultant
My writing mentor used to do this for a living. Note that she wasn’t a ghostwriter, but she would advise said ghostwriters, if any. Sometimes they would be novels, sometimes memoirs. But they would always involve decent payment.
Sometimes my mentor would even be flown out to her clients’ hometowns, just so she could get a slice of their lives. Then she’d come up with a plan for the entire book, and it’ll be up to the writers to finish the rest.
This one is a pretty niche industry as well, but I’m just listing this here to give you an idea of how unconventional you can be when it comes to branching out as a writer.
I’ve always felt that writers were the most dispensable bunch in any company, and I’ve seen writers get left behind just because they refused to venture outside their comfort zone.
Throughout the past eight or nine years I’ve been in this journey, I’ve seen magazines fold, newspapers downsize, and traditional marketing make way for the digital world. Even today, some writers still refuse to learn the basics such as SEO or even WordPress, thinking that their years of experience in print publishing will be enough to carry them through the digital era.
Thankfully, writing’s a versatile skillset that goes well with everything, so you can choose to future-proof yourself if you really wanted to. And in that sense, perhaps you should seek out new challenges not just to revive a dying career, but to improve your craft.
And in that sense, maybe you can have your cake and eat it too.