Are you looking for ways to increase your writing portfolio and gain experience in the writing and publishing industry? We all know that the writing industry is a competitive sector, and standing out from the crowd is the most challenging prospect. The best way for avid writers to gain and expand their knowledge in the art of writing and storytelling is by studying English, creative writing or media type subjects throughout their educational journey.
This is a post which is based on my personal experience – it’s all my own view and nothing more. It doesn’t mean that I am a massive success in writing, but as someone who is an indie author and an SEO copywriter for a successful SEO company, I’m quite happy that I am writing for a living; and I certainly want to help other avid writers find their path.
Study hard and write
As someone who learned about writing and storytelling through my education, I can safely say it was very beneficial to me and my present early writing career. After studying English Language and Film Studies for two years at college, and then Creative Writing with English Language & Communications at Kingston University for three years, I was able to adapt my writing and experiment with numerous styles. By learning about these various styles of writing and genres, I’ve been able to explore many ways to tell a story over that five-year period; which has helped me tremendously in terms of coming up with new ideas for my books.
Life after studying for your writing career
Over this time, I did learn a lot, but the only problem seemed to be physically gaining experience and building a legitimate writing portfolio for the moment I did graduate university, and enter the big wide world to search for my first writing job.
This isn’t so much the case with me, but many people that I studied with, or fellow writers who went to university found that after they left uni, they were failing to hear back from the writing positions they had applied for. Of course, there are graduates who found another job quickly, but there are others who did not. Some people were fortunate to have contacts in the industry and others took advantage of graduate schemes, but there were and still are people who have had to settle for another job; whilst they search for that first step into the writing industry.
How to get your first job in writing?
Writing for a living is an extremely desirable job, but unfortunately (and understandably), it is extremely competitive. For all creative writers out there, we (me included) want to be famous authors, playscript writers, film screenwriters and any other rewarding writing position – but getting to those standards takes years of work, hunger, and experience. I’m not trying to dismiss your dreams of becoming a successful writer, I’m just letting you know that you’re going to need to strap yourselves in and get ready for the ride. However, I believe that if anyone puts their mind to do the one true thing they love, they will achieve it.
To increase your chances of becoming a hugely successful writer, you do in some cases need to start at the bottom and work your way up. I’m currently an SEO copywriter with the view of gaining more experience as a writer, and I believe that I am fortunate to have this job and be writing for the web on a daily basis. In this role of writing online content, it’s great to be writing content, but it’s also important that I am currently writing for numerous industries. For many people, gaining this kind of experience I am getting is very difficult to find, but it isn’t impossible. By finding a good company to help you develop as a writer, you’ll then be able to build on your knowledge and gain that desirable experience.
Got a degree? Now you need experience
For those writers who have got a suitable writing or English related degree, you would think that with our years of studying (and stress) we would be able to graduate and jump straight into another job, or at least find a writing position of some sort promptly.
There are some graduates who either cannot find a suitable writing job or end up working in an unrelated sector to their qualification. I have found that in numerous industries, many companies look for experienced candidates rather than those who may have in fact studied in a suitable subject. A number of people who I know that did not obtain a degree are earning a substantial amount of money. They’ve come straight out of school, at most gained A-Levels, and then started working, whilst others moved up the educational tree. I’m not for one moment dismissing those who did not go to university, I think it’s extremely brave, but it does show that times have changed.
How can graduate writers boost their appeal to employers?
Whilst I was at university, I decided to begin my journey into the self-publishing world. This allowed me to start putting my ideas onto paper and then provide people across the world with my stories to read and review.
At university, you are encouraged to read out loud and gain the opinions of your writing from your peers, which is great, but it wasn’t enough for me. I felt that peers were often too nice to one another – I wanted hard and honest feedback, and becoming an indie author was the best way for me to receive these critical opinions.
I decided to self-publish my debut novel, Endurance, through Createspace (an Amazon company) on March 28th 2013. I was still at university, but I thought, why not? Why can’t I release my writing material? I may have only been nineteen years old, but was that too young? It proved not to be. People were interested in me, they thought it was fascinating that someone of my age decided to start writing and encourage people to read. People were encouraged by my bold step of starting out as T. J. Blake, and other writers wanted to know how I went about publishing my writing.
Self-published books appeal to employers and recruiters
From my early experience of job hunting and self-publishing, I have found that having books to your name actually makes you an extremely tasty candidate for all industry sectors; and that’s because it shows a great amount of courage and commitment – which means that you don’t need to list those qualities on your CV, you can just show it by pulling out a copy of your book instead!
I’m not sure if a degree alone would have made employers approach me like they did. This further shows the desire for experienced candidates in recruitment. With self-published books in your portfolio, you are showing that you’re truly passionate about writing and possess real experience in writing, publishing, and even marketing. It’s an extremely tough process (self-publishing) to do everything by yourself, without the hand of a big name publisher, but it can be worth your time and effort, especially if it helps you to get a new job and build a name for yourself.
Thanks for reading
I hope this post has given you a new view on your writing path and how you can build your writing portfolio to appeal to employers and recruiters.
You can find out more about my writing by reading my Why did I choose to self-publish? post, and see exactly what I have done in terms of being an indie author and see whether self-publishing is something that you may be interested in.