Online, I have managed to gather some writer friends. I am not always the greatest person about learning every aspect of the job but interacting with some other writers sometimes helps.
About that: I have been particularly bad about learning every gory detail about the industry. For over 20 years I was just one of the writers who is an artist about writing and was looking elsewhere for a day job. I had not forgotten that my mother advised that I either try to become a technical writer or else make sure to have a day job.
Harsh reality: there was a reason for that advice.
There have been many changes in the industry during the past ten years. In truth, the situation has continued to improve and to become worse right along with the improvements.
The reality for those who were getting some income by writing online is just one area where changes made by a relatively small number of powerful business people caused a lot of people to lose their income as writers. Part of it seems to have been a side effect of ‘affiliate marketing’ and ‘content mills’ but not all of the changes are clear. In some cases it is just that the environment became much more competitive.
Freelancing websites abound but more people are participating. Job openings for full time staff writers have been growing in many nations including the USA and UK for those using English. Even so, many of the writing jobs that women working from home were doing, suddenly disappeared and many pro writers were suddenly told they would no longer be paid for their work. Elsewhere online, some freelancing sites told people they could work at beginner rates their entire lives or be blackballed.
Meanwhile, more affluent writers balked at the horrors some of their counterparts were going through and urged those others to either switch to way better paying clients or to switch jobs entirely. The underworld of writers has made it so that some people who want to get paid to write actually can, but like much in life it has both a bright side and a dark side.
In 2016, this situation has not come to an end. There is some writing work available serving affiliate marketers and there are still plenty of jobs – full time and freelance positions, for professional writers in the English language. Landing and keeping clients is just one of the many aspects of the job aside from the writing itself that writers may learn at any time in the process.
Most writers are known under the nomiker ‘journalists’ and many others work ‘at magazines’ or other types of ‘staff writers’. Such people often manage to earn a living which often impresses other writers but literary authors and artistic writers are often left with a bitter or sour feeling about it. Journalists themselves, including quite successful ones I have personally met, have themselves felt beaten into submission and found themselves proud to have earned a living for decades as professional writers but still wondering if anyone would ever pay them for anything they wrote because they wanted to write it.
During the past ten years, as most readers may already know, there has been drama about how much the world of publishing has been changing and about how much electronic publishing formats were becoming powerful and whether or not they were a threat to print media.
Some readers may recall that one of the big thrills of the computer revolution was supposed to be reduction in consumption of forests for use as paper. That might not be great news for the paper industry. However, in actual practice, the dynamics and the drama between that kind of ecologically friendly motive and also the reality of where the money in the industry is and how people honestly feel about using electronic and print formats. The more recent introduction of e readers created another great opportunity for people to look into electronic books versus print books. Consumer trends, pricing, what will really work for whom and why or why not.
There were hopes and fears that ebooks would overtake print books but after a few years it now looks as if print books are still more popular but that e readers and ebooks now have a nice healthy niche within the book industry.
As it happens, and as referred to earlier, the majority of professional writers are not book writers, but some are. The most famous of writers are quite often the book writers and a few journalists. Every once in a while a play write or a poet becomes ‘famous’. In the meantime, the TV and film writers pull in good livings and end up in situations that are reminiscent of corporate executives or university Deans – they are not really treated as stars, but they really do well for themselves and have good reputations. Studio musicians with good reputations have a similar kind of experience.
Print and online article writers and blog writers are most likely to be the most numerous kind of writers – especially when ‘ordinary, real journalists’ are included in the count. It also includes hordes of writers working from home, sometimes as parts of groups and other times as individual freelancers.
The industry continues to change. The biggest mystery of the world of professional writing is that for those in this vast and broad ranging industry, the paths to success are somewhat diverse and what counts as success is to. As in acting and so many other professions, the majority are not the most successful and many suffer from shattered dreams. Many professional writers do best early on and when young whereas there are large corps of others who become successful after age 50 or even after age 65. Of those, some just try it as a new thing later in life but here and there are success stories from people who really tried hard for 47 years to become successful writers before they finally ‘made it’. In that respect, some writers give each other a lot of advice and some say only that people should really get a job in a different field if one wishes to earn a living.