What does it mean to be a professional writer?

I’m going to preface this post by saying this: if you write, you’re a writer.

I’ve met way too many people who think they don’t deserve to call themselves writers because they have had no professional accomplishments with their work. I’m here to tell you that’s not how it works. I mean, I recently heard about someone who got into a writing program with a writing sample of impressive Facebook posts. So, if you write words, you’re a writer; grab that title and run with it.

That said, there is a difference between hobby writers and professional writers.

That difference? In a word: money.

If you’re making money off your work, even if it’s not your primary source of income, you’re a professional. That means people are willing to pay you for your words, and that’s awesome!

While I work on querying my way to a publishing contract (I’m just putting the out into the universe. Magic is manifestation after all) I’m also filling my life with writing I’m getting paid for right now. I’m a professional writer.

The life of a career writer is different for everyone, but here’s what it looks like for me:

I have a writing-focused career

When I was a kid, I thought being a writer meant writing books. I had no idea how many other opportunities there really are. These days, I work as a speechwriter, but I’ve been writing professionally throughout my entire career.

I’m a communications professional by trade (I studied public relations after completing my B.A.). If this field has taught me anything, it’s that there are plenty of ways to write for a living. Throughout my career I’ve written press releases, newsletters, web copy, blog posts, ad and marketing copy, and even magazine articles.

I freelance for clients

In addition to my day job, I also freelance for clients. I’m usually hired to write blog posts and web copy, although I also do beta reading and manuscript critiques for other writers (which is kind of related!) It’s a fun way to add new, diverse pieces to my portfolio while earning money doing what I love.

I share my work on Patreon

I share creative writing and artwork on a Patreon account under my pen name. Patreon is a platform for creatives to share their work with fans who can pay to access content. I’ve been using the service for almost a year and it’s been a great way to connect with people who enjoy my work and gives me a chance to get paid for the stuff I create for fun.

Since I was young, I’ve dreamed of the day when I could introduce myself as a writer. As I got older, that dream evolved into being able to introduce myself as a writer without being asked, “okay, but what do you do for money?” as a follow-up question. Admittedly, I originally imagined it would result from writing a best seller.

I’m still working on the best seller, but at I’m grateful to have at least discovered that, until that happens, I can still have a career doing the thing I love.

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