About the Author:

With a career that has spanned advertising, production, technical services, and project management, Michael is able to articulate the wide range skills and professions that make the Internet work. This eclectic understanding and his desire to shine the light on those hiding behind techno babble has brought success to a wide range of projects.

Twitter @bissell

Linked In

Past Postings:

Using Dissent To Enhance Your Social Influence Online

Industry Profile - Author

Industry Profiles – Full Time Employees - Professional Writer

Some Thoughts On Freelancing

Building Your Online Brand

Marissa Mayer and the Change in Yahoo's Remote Workforce

LinkedIn for Professional Writers

Fake Republican Twitter Accounts

"Did you mean?" -- Google's chiding nanny of search results

Branded Technology

Sharingspree.com -- Stealing more than GroupOn's Idea

The Internet Isn't Entertaining Enough

It's not your bank... It's Apple's and Amazon's

Violated by Madison Avenue

Google+ Scares Me

"We need to..." Internet Marketing Myths

Facebook's deal with the Devil

My cool new phone is a little too cool.

You are never alone

Promotion vs. Distribution... You'd think they'd know that one...

Publishing Industry Watch

Content for Social Media

Social Media Slot Machine

Anonymous vs Me

News from the Twitter Follow Campaign Trail

The art of Indiscriminate Twitter Following

The Cloudy Meaning of The Cloud

The Demand For The Loss of Creativity

Alien Technology and Government Conspiracies

Time for a New Reality

The Death of Email

Protecting Free Speech... Anonymously (and geekily)

Amazon Shouldn't Have Shut Down WikiLeaks

The Superpowers of the Hive Mind

Time for New Ideas

Comcast, Netflix and the Mystery of the Modem

The Great Technical Disconnect

New for the Sake of New

A Retail Store Built Like the Web

Disposable Personas

When did Google Start Policing the Internet?

Getting back to HTML basics, thanks to Apple

Inspecting my Navel Base

A shoebox vs. an online backup

Is Your "Resume" Website Recruiter-friendly?

iBooks -- Creative Epicenter or Gatekeeper?

The Failure of Success

The Economy is Going to Get Worse, but that's okay

Time lost on Twitter

Client Vendor Relationships

Twitter's back alleys and dark places

Social Media is NOT Advertising

Microsoft Courier

Form (designers) versus Function (geeks)

PDXBOOM -- The power of social media and the portland pipe bomb

China and Apple -- Different organizations, same management

The volume of screens


Google Adds Biking Directions to Maps


That magical little tablet

How your website can be in two places at once

Masterpieces created by sheer volume

Suing over lack of originality

A Primer on Internet Fame -- dancing babies, hamsters, numa numa, and more...

Checking my messages

Rules are made to be broken -- in a reasoned, systematic way

So many accounts, so few passwords

Who really uses Twitter? 60% of Twitter's traffic isn't on Twitter

The Web is a Jerry Rigged Kludge

Twitter: Asleep at the Mouse Wheel

Where regulation is good: Google Voice and Vonage

How Facebook is (unintentionally) forcing programmers to piss off users

The Twit Cleaner

Perfect Secretary's pitch for @Adbroad (and the Youtube API)

The Emotions of Text

The Shorty Awards Scandal -- Manual Spam is still Spam

Google Analytics, the cloud and missing numbers #fail

Helen Klein Ross & Michael Bissell Interview at Adweek's Social Media Strategies Conference

The Internet is the New 60's

Cougars from New Zealand (and I don't mean big cats)

Adding facts together, or why you can't charge your cell phone from wifi

Social Media and the Destruction of the World

Rabid Fans vs Passive Viewers -- The Coco vs Leno saga

How to tell someone to retweet (without using up your 140 characters)

You can't buy social media

A book unopened is but a block of paper

Building the LOST: The Final Season Sweepstakes

Holiday SPAM (or the lack thereof)

Archiving Twitter

Too Many Toolbars

Random Censorship with Google Adwords

Accessibility and Shopping Online

Twisted path to customer service

Flash: Shiny objects blinding your audience

Twollow and other gold rush scripts

GPS in a Laptop computer

Thinking outside the box... There was a box?

Twitter was designed for Text Messaging

It's not the corporations, damnit

Entrepreneur or Dreamer?

Adweek Social Media Twitter for Brands Presentation

Socializing is more than Social Media

Generational Marketing is a Myth (or Who's your Daddy?)

Social Media is Just the Way We Use the Internet

Twitter Followers Don't Matter (ask the porn sites)

The Internet is Gooder than Books

Sometimes you don't want your campaign to go viral

Best Twitter Branding Campaign

Like flies to crap, Spammy Twitter Followers don't really go away

iPhone SMS Security Hole

How Flipmytweet works

Cell Phones as Microscopes

Digg is not the Hijacker -- You Are

Steve Ballmer -- the walking dead?

Twitter as an open mic poetry reading

Automatic Social [un]Awareness

New York, New York

First splash for United Against Malaria

New Media/Old Media and the CLIO Awards

Interview at SXSW: Mad Men Twitter And Tracking

We've got an App for that -- it's called the Web

Understanding Google To Get Your Resume Noticed

Made it to SXSW in Austin

The trouble with Wordpress and other templates

Wayward Words with Baggage

Speaking at SXSW March 17th

The fleeting Memory of the Internet

It's okay to say 'I don't know'

Good Morning America, now Go Fight Traffic

More surreality in Portland

Nike Takes Over Conquent

Facebook owns this title

Excuses, excuses

A little on Social Media

Feeding on Content

Attack of the Bots

Irish Music in Oregon City

Landing on an Aircraft Carrier

Got Curry? And some bizarre art?

Web 1.0

Random Music and Random Life in Portland

To the dump, to the dump, to the dump dump dump

Flight Simulator

Cold night, hot fire, happy cat

Net Neutrality

Walking to work in the snow

A window into Moreland of the Past

Getting clever with data feeds

Big and Little Beirut

The Other Credit Crisis

The Broadband Inauguration

T-Mobile owns Magenta and Other Patent Stories

The Risk-takers, Doers and Makers of Things

The noise of 20,000+ Twitter Followers

Reflections on my DC Trip

Born Again American

30,000 feet, 500 MPH Suburban Strip Mall

Cellphones, toilets and the Inauguration

The wall of pissing

National Treasure/National Archives

My trip to DC so far

Everyone is insane

Getting ready for DC

The End of Days (of song): Microsoft Songsmith Example

The Very Model of a Modern Major General

Browser Bigotry

The Death of your Soul: Microsoft Songsmith

Creative Development or Developing Creatively?

Race to Witch Mountain

The Myth of Wikipedia (or the Wiki-1400)

Online/Offline Sales -- is it really that bad?

Is PayPal Tacky?

Old School Web Design Still Works

Domain Squatting

Christmas Fire

Green Chri$tma$

QA 101

Portland Snow

Get some return on that web traffic

I think they have a backup...

I'd love to have that problem

The [un]importance of statistics

Don't be a tool of viral marketing

CAT Scan!

Follow up to the shoulder injury

Emails, discussions, blogs, wiki and web content

Ironic Injury

On the Santa Monica Pier

You Designed for Print First

You let someone else register your domain name

You figured .biz, .info, .us would work fine

What's after the Integrated Circuit?

Intelligent life is out there (but it's bugger all down here on earth)

Subject Matter Experts Talking Other Subject Matter

The Totalitarian Regime of Apple

Oversimplifying how people work


Creative Services for the New World

Reverse Anthropomorphism

The End of Time

Oil prices and birdsong

Watching Starship Troopers AGAIN!

Better Living Through Twitter

Lessons Learned From Apple

It's the Brand, Baby

Business Architecture vs. Web Construction

On Truth

You can't build life

Accidentally Drunk in Portland

Al Gore the Winner

Intelligent life is out there (but it’s bugger all down here on earth)

Aussie Rules Football

Trip to Nostalgia Land

I am such an idiot

Long day of travel

Miami -- as far from Portland as you can go in the US

Inverse Peter Principle

Random Knowledge

I'm fascinated with modern plumbing

Leaving Seattle (or why you should keep your ticket close)

On the Rails

The Hive

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Industry Profiles – Full Time Employees - Professional Writer
2013-05-09 17:30:28

This is a supercharged subject for me both personally and professionally. Obviously, I’m a writer. I had a (paid) career advice column for a year and a half for the Seattle Times. I’m on the Board of Directors for a local non-profit that puts on writer’s conferences every year (and I have been attending for almost 10 years.) I started writing fiction about 10 years ago; and being a recruiter I pursued the profession from a job hunting perspective, which a lot of people don’t seem to understand. I’ll touch on that later.

I’m going to break the “writer” profession into separate postings. First I will cover full-time employees that are paid to write, then freelance professionals and finally I will wrap up with a discussion on published authors (books).

There was a discussion over on LinkedIn a few weeks ago about finding “creative writing jobs”. There are very few “jobs” that will pay you to be a creative writer. If you are being paid to write something, you don’t have carte blanche to write your own content and expect someone else to monetize it. Generally, you are given content subjects, writing guides/style manuals, a specific word count, and a strict deadline. The person that started the discussion wanted someone to offer him a salaried position to write poetry. About the only “job” you will get in this medium is working for a greeting card company.

So what sorts of jobs can you get as a paid, professional writer on a salary? Advertising and PR firms still hire writers to work on branding slogans/campaigns for clients. That is about the best “creative” writing job you will get, but it’s still going to be someone else’s guidelines. The “marcomm” role has changed significantly over the last decade or so (Marketing Communications) as marketing as an industry has changed (see my prior posting on the Marketing Industry). A lot of young professionals want to be “social media” content writers/editors/managers. Contrary to popular belief, this isn’t all about writing 140-character pithy pitches. This a pure marketing job that delivers analytics-based campaigns supporting the corporate branding strategy. These days, “marketing” communications as it relates to generating content is a small portion of a larger position.

The time-honored “Technical Writer” role was a haven for many English and Communications majors graduating in the late 80’s and through the 90’s. The technical writer is mainly employed in two industries: technology/software, and the scientific/life sciences arena. The role of the tech writer is to take technical/scientific concepts and “translate” them for people. For example, the “help” function in any software program is often written by a technical writer; white papers, help manuals, design specifications, business analyses. But, as you can imagine, this skill is used in conjunction with another: deep expertise in a technical/scientific realm. There is a fair amount of research that is done with other professionals within the organization in order to create a comprehensive set of information. That being said, I queried several friends that have been long-time Tech Writers, and the consensus is that you need to able to learn a vast array of subjects, digest them, and then “translate” that information back into understandable language for the lay person. The more you can do that, the more employable you are. If you are able to learn those technical or scientific concepts that need “translation” then that is your most applicable skill. I have seen a shift in the tech realm away from the profession of “technical writer” towards an inclusion of the role into “human centered design”, a philosophy that mixes usability and product management.

In a related vein, if you are interested in the non-profit world, there are organizations that employ grant writers. This is a very specialized skill, as each grant award has very specific guidelines and you have to learn the ins and outs of the process. I asked a good friend of mine who writes grants regularly for her scientific research job how one would go about *getting* a grant writing job with no experience, and this was her suggestion: “I suggest they team up with an experienced writer. I got my start with non-profits by volunteering. The best way to learn to write grants, in my opinion, is to find successful grant applications. My first 100% self-written grant, I got other T32s, and followed the format.”
If you really enjoy learning something really well and then writing about it, there may be positions in law or government, including attorneys (they write extensively, mostly “briefs”), paralegals, speech-writers, congressional aides, and lobbyists. Of course becoming an attorney means going to law school, but a law degree can open up a lot of doors involving writing and communication overall.

Journalists do still exist, although full time, paid-by-a-paper-or-magazine roles are quickly diminishing as the face of the publishing industry is changing. You might have luck writing copy for a local news station (TV/Radio), or else you will want to work for a publication with a fairly large circulation. Most of the jobs for magazines and larger publishing entities are going to be in New York City. In the same vein, you may find jobs as a copywriter or copy editor at those same publications, but a full-time position is now the exception rather than the norm.

So let’s segue into publication, as it’s a good transition. These days, most editors, copywriters, and journalists are self-employed freelancers. With the advent of the internet, e-books like the Kindle and the Nook, the need for full time publishing house editors and copywriters has fallen drastically. The majority of newspapers and magazines have had articles submitted by freelance journalists for decades. “Publishing” is changing drastically. Newspapers are being replaced by news aggregators. Magazines are still in existence, but most of them are online now and if they hope to continue making money, it is my opinion that they will eventually go all digital. There are still editorial positions here and there at traditional publishing houses, major newspaper/magazines, and sometimes you can get a job as an editor working for a literary agent (you may end up becoming an agent as well.) But most of what you do as an agent is read, not write. The same with publishing houses/publications. The role of the editor is to fix bad writing, so you need to know/understand that if you decide to go this route. New/junior editors at traditional publishing houses in New York are known to be woefully underpaid, and several of my own personal contacts had to work second or even third jobs to pay their bills until they had a decade or more under their belts.

"Jobs", as in full-time paid employee status, for writers are diminishing quite a bit. However, freelance opportunities and a variety of different publishing options are increasing daily.

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