Content Writing, Creative Nonfiction

Can you do content writing while still pursuing nonfiction writing?

What is the difference between content writing and nonfiction writing?

What does it mean to have a writing career? In that I mean, how do you define it? Does it mean writing books? If so, do you write fiction or nonfiction books, and in which genre? Science, travel, thriller, romance, memoirs, biographies? Another person may define a writing career as journalism and which also has its own genres. This may include investigative journalism, broadcast journalism, sports journalism, entertainment journalism, and others. A third person may define a writing career as content writing and include blogging and social media writing. 

I want a writing career; however, I have struggled to define what that means. I began writing as a content writer for businesses and individual clients, with particular emphasis on search engine optimization. While I enjoy this type of writing style, I equally enjoy creative writing, which has always been my first love. However, the question arises, can I do both? As a writer, can I market my services and products under one brand? I think so. 

First, let us define these two writing styles. Content writing ´is the process of writing, editing, and publishing content in a digital format. That content can include blog posts, video or podcast scripts, ebooks or whitepapers, press releases, product category descriptions, landing page(s) or social media copy … and more.1´ Creative writing is ‘a form of artistic expression, (that) draws on the imagination to convey meaning through the use of imagery, narrative, and drama. This is in contrast to analytic or pragmatic forms of writing. This genre includes poetry, fiction (novels, short stories), scripts, screenplays, and creative nonfiction.2.

How to create a writer’s brand.

While content writing and creative writing differ in their goals and target audiences, I believe they also have large similarities. I find this particularly true due to my focus on creative nonfiction writing. Creative nonfiction is a style of literacy where writers create factually accurate narratives. In other words, they are first-person opinion pieces, whether essays, op-eds, or memoirs. Similarly, as a content writer and blogger for companies, I also write first-person accounts on factual information about a particular topic. What differentiates between the two products is the audience I am trying to reach.

Writing: The two streams of income.

While I am happy with my brand, which currently covers two products, it also means having two streams of income. This is something I had to learn through heavy research and experience. 

When I first began as a freelance content writer, I struggled immensely in understanding what price I could charge for my services. The demand for content writers is exploding and even more so since the start of the Covid-19 epidemic. I have seen hourly rates, fixed rates, and contract weekly limits. I have witnessed freelance writers providing services ranging from $5 per hour to $100 per hour. I have also seen clients paying as little as $15 per 1500 word posts. I have accepted all these different ranges, and I have learned something each time. I now charge my freelance work per project as I realized that hourly rates do not allow economic independence. This is due to the extra unpaid time spent searching for new jobs and marketing my work. It is not sustainable long term. 

I am now in the process of understanding creative nonfiction writing work. As I am still learning, and more importantly, I am in the process of establishing my name, economic sustainability will take place over a longer period of time. I will have to seek new opportunities to get my work published; this is particularly true for essays and op-eds. 

Regarding memoir writing (and which I am in the process of writing my first book!), I have found viable possibilities to receive a small stream of income. This is because of self-publishing. Self-publishing could provide a channel to get my books published and for me to receive an income. That is if I do it well. Unlike traditional publishing, in which authors have less control over the book’s distribution and royalties, self-published writers receive higher margins. That is not to say that self-published authors do not have to invest, because they do. They will have to pay for a manuscript critique, a comprehensive edit/line edit, a copyeditor, and a proofreader. They may also need a book designer. It will take time and effort; however, authors can then publish and distribute their books widely once it is finished. The final part is the marketing of the book. 

The writing career as a content writer and nonfiction writer. 

Establishing a writing career can be challenging. It required a lot of soul searching from my part, however I have decided to commit to the journey. All I can do is try.

References:

  1. Hubspot, https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/professional-content-mistakes
  2. Duke University, https://twp.duke.edu/sites/twp.duke.edu/files/file-attachments/creative-writing-1.original.pdf 

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2 thoughts on “Can you do content writing while still pursuing nonfiction writing?”

  1. Best wishes with your memoir. My first book was an adventure memoir and it took awhile to find my voice. When you start hearing from readers, the ups and downs of writing a book make it worthwhile in many ways.

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