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A lot of people here aren't professional writers, but write in their own free time or for their own pleasure. It's not uncommon, though, wanting (or dreaming) to make "something more" out of it, whether that something more is getting published or getting some extra cash in one's wallet.

This considered, are there some opportunities where one could profit from his/her writing skills?

I'm asking specifically about gigs, ergo side-jobs. Since most of wannabe-writers have, of course, a day-job to pay the bills. I'm not looking for a comprehensive list; I'm just curious of hearing out your ideas and compare them with my own.

I'm ignoring the difference between technical, academic and creative writing here for sake of the question; let's assume any kind of compensated job in a writing area is good enough for an answer.

  • This may be a better question for the Freelancers.Stackexchange.com or Workplace.StackExchange.com sites. – April --Un-Slander Monica-- Mar 5 at 14:59
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...are there some opportunities where one could profit from his/her writing skills?

Yes indeed, there are many opportunities - but it comes down to which writing skills you have, and how well you can sell what you have to offer.

As a professional I use a wide range of skills depending on the kind of job I'm doing: expertise in grammar and orthography are valuable when copy-editing; good vocabulary and an understanding of different demographies helps tailor the content/style to suit the audience (whether for a plain-talking public speech or a sophisticated academic article); creative flair is useful for writing fun pieces; analytical skills are important for policy writing; and turning a meandering interview with a person your company rescued from homelessness into a short, sharp personal profile or human interest article takes a whole packet of skills.

I trained as an English teacher but for 20 years I mostly worked in social welfare. My expertise in the field led to a role as a policy officer for a peak body, where my writing skills were invaluable in crafting policy submissions, writing reports etc. That led to a 6-year position writing organisational policies and strategic reports for a large non-profit, as well as writing/editing their annual reports. And last year I went freelance, picking up work writing internal policies as a way to pay the bills while I try my hand at writing fiction.

You do need good writing skills if you expect someone to pay you to write for them. But consider this: while big companies have their own writers on staff (internal policies, annual reports, public submissions, advertising & promotions, newsletters/e-bulletins & other communications, etc), most small-to-medium businesses have to outsource whatever of this they can afford to produce. It's not uncommon for a business to have identified a need but then forgotten about it until your exploratory contact reminds them - and there you are ready to do it for them! Of course finding this work isn't quite so simple, but once you've done a few small jobs - perhaps for a "bargain" price - it gets a bit easier.

Your country's (or state's) writers' association, authors' society or similar organisation will have more resources on the different ways writers ply their trade for income while pursuing their more creative personal writing projects.

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You can profit from your writing, but it will be harder to. Small publishers are more hesitant to publish your writing, and the bigger ones are too preoccupied (from my experience). If a book you write is something that strikes close to the publisher's heart or is a book they lavish in great amounts, your book will be more likely to be published faster (and will probably give you more profit), as they will be thinking about it.

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As with any art form, the creative, personally fulfilling writing is what everyone wants to do --only the best make money at it, and there's a glut of aspiring hopefuls. The writing that consistently makes money is functional writing that fulfills some kind of ongoing need.

Here are some examples of that kind of writing:

  • Niche reference materials: If there's an under-served niche, and you're willing to put in the time and effort and research, you can reliably make money from a good reference work.

  • Family oriented direct-to-streaming screenplays: There's more of a need for mass-market content for streaming video services than there are people willing to write them (and able to make them fresh and interesting).

  • Content for professional websites: Sure, most people don't make money on the web, but there are websites out there in constant need of fresh content in areas that not everyone wants to write about.

There are other opportunities, but you get the idea. Writing as a business is writing as a product. If you bring your artistry to it, you can do even better, but if you're writing primarily as an artist, then your chances of making a living at it diminish sharply.

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