Here’s how to become a writer without a degree…
Okay, article’s done!
For those who are still here, you want some concrete advice, right? Well, I have a confession for you… I have my college degree.
BUT, it was for marketing, which is as unrelated to the art of writing as you can get.
I mean, my writing 5 years ago was abysmal.
Despite never majoring in English or Journalism, I’ve written at the Huffington Post, gained 23,000 followers on Medium, and now make a full-time income from blogging.
I can only tell you my story for you to understand how to become a writer without a degree. It has a funny beginning..
1. Purchase A Journal (The Most Important Step)
My sister gifted me a journal 4 years ago (actually, she gifted me 3 journals) to document my college internship at Disney World. I didn’t think I would take her up on that and actually write every day, but I got started nonetheless..
And I LOVED it!
I couldn’t stop, either.
You should read some of my stupid journal entries from back in the day. In fact, here’s one for you all to read..
I hope you all can spare how stupid I used to sound. I probably still sound stupid.
I wanted to include this journal entry to show you how crappy I used to be.
But as I kept writing and writing for 8 months I developed my writing voice. I developed my style–and writing became the most therapeutic thing I ever did.
And, oddly enough, I became so much better at writing through the whole process. Words started flowing. I gained confidence.
It took me less and less time to get into the zone. Best of all–I didn’t write any words for an online audience for basically an entire year.
They were just for me.
2. Find Jobs On Upwork / Craigslist
Now, the people reading right now probably have about 10,000 different dreams for their writing careers. Some want to be bloggers. Some want to be freelancers. Some want to write a book.
I’m going to take a chance and assume you all want to simply make money from your words.
The only thing is, you need a portfolio to make any money from your writing.
To create initial clips, you have to find a website and write for free. I did that for a few months. I reported on baseball games and this helped me develop a “portfolio” of pieces that I could present to potential clients.
Then I simply scoured the heck out of Upwork and Craigslist for freelancing jobs. Then when clients asked for my portfolio, I’d send them to my published articles.
Here’s a great article I wrote on how to write good cover letters for job postings. For now I won’t spend much time talking about how to actually “win” jobs–I simply want to give you the roadmap.
Besides, most people posting Upwork jobs will hire you quite easily if you apply to 10-20 per day.
3. Start Gunning For Big Websites
A big key to figuring out how to become a writer without a degree is to get published on big sites like the Huffington Post, or Inc.
Or Thought Catalog!
For some reason, an article published on these sites is MAJOR validation in the eyes of readers, clients, and agents alike. If you want to solidify yourself as a great writer, you’re going to have to prove yourself on the big stage.
I got my start writing for big sites with a gig at the Inquisitr. It’s actually quite easy to get in if you pay attention to their application process.
After I got in there, I name dropped the Inquisitr in every single freelance application/blog post submission I sent out.
This gave me validation, and little by little I started getting into more and more publications online as my base grew and grew.
4. Get Into Big Publications And Leverage The Crap Out Of Them
Want to know how to become a writer without a degree? The end game is pretty simple…
Get into big publications and publish there OFTEN. Then you’ll slowly but surely build up your brand, win clients, attract agents, and gain a ton of followers.
I think that’s the end game for everyone, right?
Getting into big publications is hard and takes months of work.. but once you’re there you have another half to the journey that hinges directly on your own productivity as a writer to build your audience.
The No B.S. Conclusion: How To Become A Writer Without A Degree
The truth is, nobody is going to ask you whether you have a college degree. If you can prove you got some writing chops, anybody will hire you. In fact, if I knew I was going to be a writer growing up, I never would’ve went to college at all.
First though, you have to become a better writer. Before I ever applied to writing jobs, I filled out 100 pages of a journal that nobody will ever see or read. I did that because I enjoyed it. I love writing. It will forever be it’s own reward, and if it’s not for you, you should seriously consider doing something else.
Because it’s going to take you a long time working for free to eventually win clients, score writer profiles at big sites, and eventually maybe even sign a book deal.
That’s the best advice I can give you to the “how to become a writer without a degree” question.
I have 23,000 followers on Medium. If you want more info on Medium and how to build your influence there, just sign up for my free online course. It’s called “Your First 1,000 Followers.”