The internet has opened up a world of opportunities for writers who may previously never have become published. As anyone who writes for a living knows, rejection slips from publishers are so common many could easily wallpaper their home office with them.
However, offline writing opportunities are plentiful and diverse, although not necessarily about to offer fame, fortune and your name in lights. There is a huge demand for business writers; not only those who can write about finance, but for in-house publications such as training manuals, business plans and employee information manuals.
Further to this, there is also a large amount of offline work available for writing coursework and for the education sector, as well as plenty of prospects for those who can write for marketing purposes, in advertising and PR.
Just as with online work, rates of pay for offline writing can vary depending on the size of the organization you’re working with and the experience that you have. Whilst some corporations may not consider you unless you can give examples of previous work, others are happy to employ your talents based upon the online work you do and recommendations.
Writing for traditional print is also far more lucrative than blogging and producing online articles, although it seems that pay is being driven down due to the proliferation of writers online. However, print is much less competitive and whilst you may find yourself bidding for jobs, there will be far fewer people bidding against you, upping your chances of success.
A market that many people forget exists is writing for government departments; projects are often put up for tender by these and it’s really just a case of looking for them. These tend to pay exceptionally well and can certainly enhance a writing career in terms of prestige and money.
Writers can command a higher rate of pay all round offline; newsletters can pay as much as $350 per page, whilst business writing can return up to a huge $125 per hour – that’s substantially more than you will ever get paid for writing blogs.
We asked three writers who work both online and off a few questions about their careers; Lorraine Cobcroft is now semi-retired but has made a living writing in Australia for many years and having failed to give it up for retirement, continues to write part-time.
Whilst her work varies from month to month, she has noticed that, in recent months, work has been weighted slightly more online than off. She states that the difference in on and offline work is in detail, offline customers are more likely to request a meeting or conference call and to ask for revisions. However, she comments that offline work pays “much better”, as do the other writers that we asked.
Lorraine produces work for a cross-section of industries and writes a lot for the business sector, including writing legal briefs, applications for dispute mediation, instructional manuals and how-to books for publishers.
She tends to find work by word of mouth and personal referrals, having built up an excellent reputation over the years. Lorraine says that she used to source work via online bidding sites but has stopped this now as “pay rates have fallen unacceptably”.
Lorraine says that many of her new clients don’t ask for qualifications but tend to ask for writing samples and sometimes references. Bearing this in mind, it’s not strictly necessary to have a degree in English or a writing discipline, but it’s a good idea to ensure that you know the market and can write targeted copy.
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This can be useful for both online and offline writing as the mediums differ and as such, so should your style. Writing for blogs and online articles needs to be succinct, to the point and easy to read in terms of sentence and paragraph construction. However, writing offline is a stricter discipline as it’s not something you can come back to and change once it has been printed. This means that editing and proofreading skills are also necessary if you want to beat the opposition.
Our second writer, Harvey Burgess from Charlotte, North Carolina, blogs regularly and creates news articles and releases for local charity organizations. He agrees with Lorraine that offline work pays far more than online and both agree that they prefer to work offline; Harvey says:
“I prefer offline, even when the deadlines are less immediate. It enables you to ‘vet’ your work as much as you want where online it’s pretty much ‘done and gone’.”
Lorraine prefers offline for reasons that include the ability to present the work in a format that she herself has created. This enables her to give clients the full package, presented in such a way as is important to her as a professional.
All of the writers that we asked tend to write for a wide cross section of industries, somewhat proving that there is no one particular industry that can give more work, as writers are in demand for many of them.
However, popular industries tend to include education, marketing, finance and IT; of course, the engineering sector is also a good bet as they tend to produce technical documents, which can command good pay.
The final writer we spoke to was Pat Garcia, who is from Georgia but now lives in Germany and makes a living mostly translating documents into English from German. She says that one of the biggest qualifications that clients ask for is exceptional English grammar and spelling and clarity in the writing.
“Some companies want you to understand exactly what they do,” she says. “This is required if you are working for a manufacturer who produces a product. It is very important to understand the background.”
This concurs with what the other writers say, companies tend to ask for a resume, as well as previous work, but it’s not absolutely essential that the work you have previously produced has been carried out offline.
Writing opportunities exist in many forms both online and off; we would recommend that when you are thinking about the best markets to write for, think about subjects you would consider yourself an expert in. For example, if you’re a parent then there’s a pretty good chance that you know enough to write for parenting magazines and even educational publications, for more advanced knowledge.
If you have a job in the ‘real world’ consider writing about that and look at how your company sources its marketing materials and in-house publications. Consider taking a course to really hone your skills and teach you about the publishing industry, online and off. Whilst traditional print newspapers and magazines may be a dying medium, there’s still plenty of work in a variety of areas that you can carry out.
Finally, now that Kindle has a self-publishing section, this can present great opportunities for you to publish fiction and non-fiction and retain a greater portion of the profit than you ever would by traditional means, so bear this in mind as an additional market.