The regular publishing industry may have suffered from the rise of the internet, but the writing world, in general, is flourishing. There are more opportunities than ever before for aspiring writers, with an online community for every niche, an insatiable demand for digital content and blogging alone being a viable career if approached correctly.
What’s more, the digital world is so vast that it’s easy to miss large parts of it. On top of all the great freelance writing opportunities you’re aware of, there are countless more ways in which writers are able to make money from their skills. Let’s run through 3 writing jobs that you might never have even heard about:
Writing breakup letters
Ending a relationship can be immensely difficult, so it’s hardly surprising that someone trying to do it might look for assistance. They could search online for advice, ask their friends, and generally try to find ways to somehow make things easier — but even then, they might consider it impossible to find a satisfactory combination of words.
Consequently, they can simply decide to hire someone to do it for them. Impersonal, detached, and cold? To some extent, yes, but it can be more convenient for everyone. The person ending the relationship gets to avoid the extreme discomfort of failing to articulate their reasons, and the person being dumped receives something reasonably tasteful (if done correctly).
Of course, someone should at least make an effort to write their own letter first (wikiHow has a solid breakup letter guide), and if they just don’t have the writing skills to create something suitable, they can bring in a professional writer. It does need to be a ghostwriting process, though — if you’re going to write a breakup letter for someone, you must communicate with them to ensure that the sentiment behind the letter is entirely legitimate.
You’ve likely heard of speechwriting in the political sphere. Top politicians invariably employ speechwriters to finely-hone their tones and styles, helping shape their messages to resonate with as many people as possible. But speechwriting isn’t reserved for that world — it has a much wider reach than you might expect.
A speech can hold a lot of power
In almost every corner of the business world, there’s demand for speeches. Award ceremonies, company addresses, pitches to prospective clients: a fantastic speech can radically change how a person or company is perceived, so there’s a good reason for someone tasked with delivering a speech to task someone else with writing it.
If this is something that interests you as a writer, you should start honing your skills to suit how people talk. Seek out useful resources: for example, Jericho Writers has some good points on how to write dialogue, and the consideration of beats is highly relevant — speech has to sound somewhat natural, and that demands the inclusion of pauses. Timing is everything.
In addition, keep in mind that a speechwriter doesn’t typically just write a draft and send it along, never to see it again. There’s a back-and-forth to the process. You’ll get revisions, have your suggestions shot down, need to fight for their inclusion, and generally need to collaborate closely with the client to get the best result. If you want to make this the core of your writing career, be sure that you’re ready to commit to it as your niche.
Memento mori: remember you must die. And when someone does shuffle off the mortal coil, there’s a decent chance they’ll be given an obituary, which is a report of a person’s death intended for newspapers and other such publications. They’re often written by family members of the deceased, or colleagues, but just as often written by writers who didn’t know them at all.
Writing obituaries in that way is a challenging job, because it requires research and creativity (particularly when the research stage doesn’t turn up much). Consider writing an obituary for someone who didn’t really have any friends, for instance: without knowing of their hobbies, interests, or passions, you must make an effort to draw whatever inferences you can.
It’s perfectly possible to make a career out of writing obituaries for specific publications, but it also fits neatly into a freelance schedule provided you’re willing to accept the irregularity of the tasks (people in particular areas don’t tend to die at neat intervals). Remembrance Process provides a comprehensive breakdown of the basics, so take a look at the formula to see if it’s something you could envision working with on occasion.
These writing jobs are just the beginning. Anything that needs to be written (and isn’t so basic that it can be automated) requires a writer, and you could step into that role. If you abandon your preconceived notions of what a writing career is supposed to look like, you might just find that there are some amazing opportunities out there for you.
Laura Slingo is a writer and editor that regularly pens career, marketing and lifestyle advice for leading publications across the globe.