Redefining Your Writing: Cleaning Up Your Career

Your personality, preferences and skills influence all of your decisions, and that includes your writing career. Most of us who have our own careers in writing would have a hard time living with a set income again. If I need some extra cash, I take on an extra project, for example. You can’t do that if you’re salaried.

Jenn’s recent post on her ambitious goals for 2013 made me start some rusty wheels turning about my own plans for the future. I think it’s time to redefine my work and possibly clean up my career. I’m getting a bit bored and ready for a change. That means a quick refresh of the basic styles of writing as a starting point.

The Basic Styles of the Writing World

I’m going to make a list here, but it’s not going to be inclusive. It’s almost impossible to make an inclusive list of writers. That’s before we even start splitting hairs over content versus copy and contract versus freelance. But let’s look at some of the online writing basics, shall we?

Freelancer – A freelance writer is someone who takes on gigs on her own terms and gets paid accordingly. A freelancer is not an employee – she (or he) is a contractor, usually for many different clients.

Blogger – A blogger is a general term that means “someone who writes on a blog”. You can make the case that a “blogger” might also include photo or media bloggers with more picture than words. Being a blogger doesn’t mean you get paid to do anything necessarily – you might be a crafty mommy blogger who simply loves to share fifty pictures of your Elf on a Shelf. But a freelance blogger is someone who blogs for clients, presumably paid.

Copywriter – A copywriter is a term that is frequently argued over. A copywriter writes copy. Copy is writing or messaging written with intent to cause action. It’s essentially persuasive writing of one kind or another. There are numerous types of copywriting as well, everything from long form sales letters to emails to captions on print ads. Some copywriters do all forms of copy while others specialize in a particular area.

Content writer – Of all the writing terms thrown around, this one is the hardest for most people to define. If copy is writing with a design to persuade, content is material written to inform or entertain. But often that entertaining content is written to “soft sell” a reader into action – perhaps bookmarking the site or Digg-ing the article. Being a content writer often means you write for websites. I throw the term “web writer” into this batch as well.

Social media expert – Okay, I have yet to come up with a great term for this particular area of writing, and often social media management goes hand in hand with writing – usually blogging. The social media expert (or manager) is in charge of promoting written materials. Normally a social media expert promotes their own material, but also promotes on behalf of clients for a set fee or price.

Defining Your Career

The list could go on forever, of course, but these are the most commonly used terms for what most of us do. Recently I've started stewing on how I want to define my career moving forward. This is natural in any business.

In fact it’s good for business to define goals and plans, even restructuring can be hugely positive. The worst thing a business can do (outside of illegal activities) is sitting still as the business will ultimately fade away. The official term for that is entropy. So to effect negative entropy (a good thing in business), you must always move forward.

And that is where I am now. With the New Year approaching, I’d imagine I’m not the only one facing this particular crossroads.

The recent Google updates had a tremendous impact on the SEO and affiliate marketing industry. The trickle down effect is still very much in effect and many writers are regrouping. I’m proud to say that my current career was built on pretty firm ground and I didn't get slammed by the updates. In fact, one of my service offerings became more popular now that SEO requires excellent guest posting opportunities.

The only trouble is that the particular service isn't a favorite of mine. It’s actually one of my fall backs and I’m about ready to take it in a new direction or stop completely. I’m ready for a change complete with a new name for what I do and a newly targeted brand as well. For example, I've called myself any number of the terms above – copywriter, content writer, blogger, etc. It’s time for simplification and clearer purpose.

I’d encourage any writers out there looking forward with some hesitation, boredom, frustration and even panic to consider what you really want to do. I like blogging for clients, for example. I do all sorts of blogging. I’d like to do more of it, and I think I will. There is certainly room for it in the industry – especially in localized industries. As I work through my own restructure, I’ll incorporate that into my thought process including my site refresh and my marketing efforts.

2013 will be a year of clarification and negative entropy for me.

What will it be for you?



Profile image for Rebecca Garland
Rebecca is a full-time everything. She teaches English and reading to her much loved, if challenging, high school students during the day and is a freelance education writer in the evenings. With almost ten years in the classroom and advanced degrees in business and information science, Rebecca specializes in materials that inform, educate and entertain. Rebecca indulges herself by pretending to have spare time and writing about the ups and downs of being a freelancing mama whenever she gets a chance.

3 thoughts on “Redefining Your Writing: Cleaning Up Your Career”

  1. Because I use my name for my business, I struggled a lot with a tagline or name. Primarily when I introduce myself I simply use the term “writer.” If they ask more I say I do editing and communications work as well. I also blog but to me blogging is a form of writing so it was confusing to say “I’m a writer and blogger.”

    I’m a writer. Much easier!

  2. I’m moving into the role of author, ghostwriter, screenwriter, and part-time editor. I finished my first book, and I’m working on my second book. I’m halfway through writing the treatment for my half-hour TV sitcom and will have a table read of the script in a few weeks.

    Even though my writing career is evolving, I still consider myself a freelancer because I continue to write articles, blogs, content, etc.

  3. Funny why I had to find this post. I just went through the exact same transition process if you will. I started a site called not too long ago. Then I discovered that what I do is great and I am a freelance writer indeed, but I keep on having my friends and mentors I follow tell me “Ruan, you need to laser target and narrow down. Freelance Writing is HUGE! Specialize!”

    So more recently, about two weeks ago to be exact, I did just that. I have been blogging for quite some time and have also been a regular contributor to sites like, WeBlogBetter, Firepole Marketing and have recently been accepted to Problogger and Famous Bloggers.

    I think it’s quite clear I love blogging…

    BUT, never have I been paid to write a blog post before. I designed my new site with one goal in mind:

    To attract my first freelance blogging client and then to document my journey from start to finish with complete transparency, giving people the opportunity to walk through the journey with me, through every trial and challenge I may face but also every obstacle I overcome and success I will achieve.

    Thanks for this post as in the past I could only say I am a freelance writer. Now I am able to rightfully ‘file’ myself under “freelance blogger.”

    All the best!


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