Creative Writing: Can It Really Be a Career?

Freelance Writers: Can You Make Money In Creative Genres?
••• Freelance Writers: Can You Make Money In Creative Genres?. Getty Images/Taxi Collection/Yagi Studios

Question: Freelance Writing Creatively--Can I Make a Career Of It? 

Ok, I'm sold on freelance writing! But I must admit to some doubt when it comes to making money from my creative endeavors. I'm not interested in writing web copy or press materials. My heart is in my wordsmithing! Is freelance writing, but creatively, really a viable career for someone who needs to pay the bills? How can I get started? Do you have any resources for that type of freelance writing? Thanks, Geneva L. 


Well, there is certainly a contingent of creative writers who are well-schooled in this genre (think MFA), and I'm fairly certain they're not starving. However, I understand writers are looking for freelance opportunities in the creative field that are more short term and less "iffy" than publishing books. 

First and foremost, yes, there are opportunities out there for freelance writers who want to be paid for creative work. The best resource I can give you if this is your dream is this list of 19 Types of Creative Freelance Work. You'll see that there are plenty of paid, creative opportunities for the poet and wordsmith in you which also offer immediate payment that is of a level comparable to other freelance writing genres. 

Secondly, though, I'd like to give you some career advice. On any given day, a look through The Writers Market will show you a general discrepancy between the payment ranges for creative writers submitting to lit journals, and those for journalists, copywriters, and more traditional freelance writers.

This is not necessarily a function of talent, but rather of supply and demand, among other factors. Unless you're the next Pablo Neruda, you're going to make more money by writing copy for your local corporations rather than for subbing poetry to University Presses. For more insight into this, check out this article on the difference between traditional freelance writing and more creative endeavors. 

However, I'm not looking to discourage you entirely from creative freelance writing. I would simply suggest that the freelance writer entering the creative field focuses on a blend of clients and genres if making bank and paying bills is important and needed at this time in your career. A blend of projects could scaffold your career, providing income and a creative outlet at the same time.

There are more resources here for creative freelance writers. In addition, be sure to consider publishing ebooks or using a submission service to get your creative writing into the right editor's hands.

Again, if creative writing is your passion, then patience and training will take you closer to that career. Meanwhile, balance your projects, manage your time wisely, and pursue, pursue, pursue.