Last Updated on April 4, 2017 by Michael Brockbank
One question I get asked a lot by people, colleagues and friends of friends is what kind of a degree I have in order to be a professional writer. I look at them and state how I actually went to college for graphic design and computer animation. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finish because I lacked funding. In reality, a degree is not necessary to become a professional writer. Of course this also depends on where you want to take the career.
As a Ghostwriter
Because content marketing is such a hot industry online right now, a lot of people are flocking to sites like Textbroker and Fiverr to make a few extra dollars. Over the past few years, I’ve seen the workload increase steadily with no signs of slowing down.
Ghostwriters are sought after on the Internet by companies and individuals to mostly create content for websites. While some will still be hired for books or magazines, the majority of work I’ve seen has all been in the digital realm.
A large portion of the jobs I see online all require a Bachelor’s degree in journalism or some other form of expressed communication. However, it is possible to break into the industry without. In fact, I don’t even have a high school diploma. I did receive a GED when I was 16 and a bit of college later on, but that’s the extent of accredited education.
So, how am I successful in today’s world without having a degree?
Constant Exploration of Freelance Writing Websites
Once I decided to give it a try, I started scouring the Internet for legitimate websites that would pay me to write. I came across an extremely large number of scams before I finally came across Textbroker. It was my first love, and has always been my go-to for making money.
However, sometimes the workload in Textbroker is low and I cannot find work. This is why it’s important to sign up with several writing websites. In any given day, I can keep working because I monitor several paying sites simultaneously. Well, not so much today. Right now I have a retainer from a client and make quite a bit by writing tutorials and blogs. But it’s nice to know that I can get a few more bucks if I did a couple of random orders on Textbroker or Fiverr.
The point of this is to not stick with just one outlet for writing. Yes, I am a huge supporter of Textbroker. But I have to pay my bills and have no problems marketing myself on other websites at the same time.
High Level of Professionalism
One of the major reasons why clients love to send work my way is because of the high degree of professionalism I exude. Not to toot my own horn, but clients love coming to me because of several key points:
- Treat all clients with respect.
- Give clients exactly what they want without arguing.
- Every piece is researched and factual.
- Quick turn-around of projects.
- Constantly work on skills to produce the most amazing work possible.
As obvious for me as these points seem, apparently not everyone takes them into consideration. I constantly hear from clients how they just can’t find anyone with my abilities or work ethic when it comes to creating content.
Case in point. A client of mine is looking for a second writer to do the mundane work she needs completed. She is saving me for the important website stuff but needs someone to write guest posts. After spending the last couple of months looking, she told me that she just can’t seem to find another “Michael.”
Am I that unique? I refuse to believe that so many people are simply lacking skill or customer service abilities to satisfy this client. In reality, the work she needs done is so simple and easy compared to what she has me write.
Coincidentally, I wind up writing some of the guest posts anyway when she can’t find another author before they are due.
Even though I am a high school drop out who does have a couple of college credits, I still have a level of success as a professional writer. A lot of this has to do with the idea of constantly learning. Even those who graduate should continue education. Life is all about learning new processes and new experiences. If I had a Master’s, I would still spend time learning more.
In case you missed it, I am very pro education in any form. The more you know, the more valuable you become. This is true whether you decide to be a professional writer or decide to be the best fast-food restaurant employee in the world. Expressing knowledge is how you get a raise and have better opportunities thrown at you.
Education as a professional writer doesn’t just stop at grammar and good spelling. Knowing more about your preferred niche makes you an expert in your field. The more expertise you accumulate, the better your writing becomes. Clients love it when you know their industry inside and out.
When I first started, my preferred niche was computers and technology. It seemed logical as I started as a professional writer shortly after closing down my computer repair business. Now, I’ve changed my focus to more business and marketing…because that’s what most of my clients needed. You have to adapt to a changing market and explore talents you may not even realize you have.
Now, I’m not saying that getting a degree is a waste of time. In fact, I would have far more opportunities if I did have that little slip of paper to prove I can do what I say I can. In reality, I’m actually toying with the idea of getting a degree of some kind.
Education, whether it’s in a classroom environment or from your computer through Google searches, will impact what is available to you as a professional writer. Even with all of my skills and experiences, a lot of companies I would love to write for don’t give my resume a second glance because I don’t have a degree.
Which is sad, really.
Although you don’t need a degree to get started as a professional writer, it’s still a golden ticket that has potential to take you further.
Effort And Attitude Are Key
A lot of writers are on the cusp of greatness. Unfortunately, many of them will not take the extra steps to become something more. Skill is only part of the equation. Attitude and effort will also play major roles in how successful you are. While you may not need a degree to be a professional writer, how you treat others will affect the end results.
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