“Writing isn't a 9-to-5 job, so you learn to bring your laptop almost everywhere,” says Wendy Toliver, 38, an author of three young-adult novels who also ghostwrites how-to and decorating books, does freelance corporate copywriting and editing, runs a writing camp for children in Eden, Utah, and keeps up two popular blogs. “I've done some of my best writing on bleachers and in cars.” But the lifestyle isn't for everyone. “You need a thick skin, because there is lots of rejection; patience, because the publishing process can take months; and discipline, because nobody will stand over you and make you write,” Toliver says.
You also need a strong Web presence. For writers, the Web is important in three ways: First, despite the proliferation of content farms (which pay very little), there are still many sites that pay well for good writing. And since these sites often demand less reporting and fewer revisions than print publications, they can be lucrative. Second, writers who run vibrant blogs with engaged audiences can bring in money through advertising, sponsors and spin-off projects like books, e-books and magazine articles. Finally, a website is a crucial marketing tool that allows you to promote your work and attract new clients. “The future of content is specialized and digitized,” says Sreenath Sreenivasan, professor of digital media at Columbia Journalism School. “As a writer, if you're on top of those trends and you combine traditional skill sets with newer skills, you'll have new opportunities.”
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