How to live in the vortex

The job market. A once shining place of hopes and dreams inhabited by young believers looking, and often finding, their lucky break. Now it resembles a never-ending line at the post office where every window you go to, you get sent to another.

This impression for me is intensified when looking for part time or flexible work. That queue is even longer, the windows are smaller and the people behind the desks are so overwhelmed with applicants they only stay open for ten minutes a day.

So what can you do? Writing has always been a difficult path to pave and with self-publishing platforms continuously cropping up, ready for anyone and everyone to scribble all over, making a living out of writing is hard.

Although these self-publishing platforms may seem a hindrance to the hopeful writer that is not necessarily the case. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and all the rest can be used not only to promote yourself but also your writing. Blog, tweet, write articles on LinkedIn and then share them all over your digital channels.

There are also a number of freelancer, flexible working and creative professionals groups and pages you can join to find other creatives and work. Some of these will let you promote your work through their group/page but not all, so always check with admin.

Connecting with other writers may seem counter-productive but having a community of like minds around can make for some comfort in the grand vortex that is online publishing. You can also help each other out if one or the other of you has too much work. Always be supportive to your fellow creatives. You never know who could help you or who you could help in the future.

Stories can come from anywhere, you just need to pay attention to what’s going on around you. Look at the calendar. Can you ride the news agenda with a time sensitive, topical piece? Have you got a fresh angle on a topic currently in the news? If you can be current and relevant it’s more likely you’ll entice readers.

With writers everywhere I won’t pretend that the competition isn’t fierce. As I said, with self-publishing platforms, everyone is doing it, so you may wonder if anyone actually needs a professional writer these days. But just because somebody can bash the keys that doesn’t mean they can write. If you have the skill don’t undersell it, know your worth.

There are many different levels of professional writers and varying pay grades. From the pittance earned by the junior in a small publication up to the influencers that charge over a grand per blog, most people fit somewhere in the middle. Speak to your fellow writers and look into the going rate for your education, skill and experience level. Try to avoid mate’s rates. Your real friends will support your work and want to pay in full – or at least I would like to hope!

Doing unpaid work to build up your portfolio is an unfortunate must for many writers, but once you’ve got that portfolio stop working for free. It’s a tricky business especially as your first clients will likely be people you already know so you don’t want to overcharge them. But do charge. The unpaid intern era is here but don’t fall for it. If a company offers ‘experience’ that probably means it’s not offering money.

How’s your proofreading? Refine it. The internet is littered with typos and grammatical errors. If you notice them try contacting the company to let them know. Yes, you might irritate them, but they may also like your bold approach and ask you to check more of their writing in the future. What have you got to lose?

When you’re out there looking be fully aware of the roles you’re applying for. Some roles may be advertised as writing jobs but when you start you may realise it’s all social media posts and communications. If you want pure writing you need to ferry your way through all the media, marketing and communication roles.

Don’t think of your fellow writers as competition, think of them as co-workers. There are enough words in the world for us all.

And with that I bid you adios. Good luck!