Being a writer is an excellent and fulfilling career, but it can be hard to make ends meet (especially when you’re first starting out). Writers often must take day jobs so they can pay the bills, but day jobs are not always very creative. Plus, they can take up valuable time, leaving little time or energy for writing.
That’s why finding the best day job is important for any writer, allowing you to make money and still have time to write in your time off.
When choosing a day job as a writer, there are a few factors you should consider:
- How much time it will leave you for writing
- How much creative energy the day job requires
- Networking opportunities the day job provides
- Attention required by the day job
- How much money the day job pays
These factors will help you find day jobs for writers that are both creatively fulfilling and profitable.
The Best Day Jobs for Writers
1. College Professor
College professors are hired by classes per semester, allowing them to have long breaks throughout the year where they have no 9-to-5 work and can focus on writing. This job gives you opportunities to be creative in your lectures and share your passions with others. However, it can be draining and time-consuming, with many late nights grading papers that can bleed into time that would otherwise be spent writing.
If you’re a nonfiction writer, being a college professor could open the door for your research and other opportunities that will progress your career. If fiction is more your flavor, being a creative writing professor can be an interesting way to stay immersed in the writing world. However, you’ll need to decide how much writing time your brain can take each day without hitting burnout.
2. Elementary School Teacher
Elementary school teachers have plenty of opportunities to be inspired by their students and to pass on knowledge, which can be rewarding. It does not pay very well, however, so writers looking for day jobs that capitalize on making money may want to look elsewhere.
The bonus of being a school teacher is that you will have summers off. The largest detractor, besides pay, is that there is a large time investment outside paid hours. You’ll really need to have a love for teaching to make this a worth-it daytime career.
4. Freelance Writer
This day job is a dream day job for many writers. It gives you the freedom to build a schedule around your personal writing life. If you want to work on your personal work in the morning until noon, you have the freedom to do so.
The drawback of working as a freelance writer is the sometimes uncertain paycheck. This career can also cut into your own writing time by exhausting you of writing during the hours you work, leaving little creativity for your personal projects.
5. Technical Writer
Technical writers distill complicated information into easily digestible content. A technical writer must be very familiar with the industry they are writing for so this does require some background knowledge and advanced skillsets. The writing will be much less creative and more straightforward so as to explain difficult topics.
For writers with marketable skills, technical writing can be a good fit and a lucrative role with many technical writers making around $62,000 per year or more.
6. Grant Writer
A grant writer is someone who helps non-profit organizations in applying for and receiving grants which will help the organization further its efforts. These grants might include anything from governmental funds to private donations or bequests.
The grant writer will generally assemble the paperwork for the application, which might include letters of intent and budgets, as well as compile any research needed for the project that is being proposed. Some grant writers also help non-profits maintain their relationships with donors.
Being a grant writer can lean on your skills as a writer while also fulfilling your desire to give back as you will generally be working with non-profit organizations.
In an office or business, a receptionist is the first person that visitors see. Sometimes, they also answer incoming calls from people who are trying to reach somebody in the office. A receptionist’s primary function is to assist and direct people and sometimes provide basic information about a company or organization.
They are also tasked with greeting people, answering phones, and sometimes directing visitors to their destination. Receptionists generally work in traditional office settings during regular business hours, but some career paths may require evening, weekend, and holiday shifts.
This is a good day job option for a writer because it eliminates the problem of having a job that follows you home. Most receptionists are done with their job when they walk out of their place of work at the end of a work day. In other fields, such as copywriting or working as a freelance writer, you are more likely to get roped into working nights or at random times when you planned to be off.
8. Personal Assistant
A personal assistant provides administrative support to an individual. Personal assistants work primarily for people such as business executives or celebrities, often handling menial tasks like making travel arrangements, writing expense reports, or running errands.
Becoming a personal assistant as a writer is a good option because it doesn’t take away from your personal writing. You won’t be writing all day long (most likely) which means you’ll be fresh and ready to put words to paper when you get home.
9. Social Media Manager
Social media managers typically manage a business’s presence on social media websites, customize the message that will be posted, and determine how often something will be posted. Some social media managers are also involved in the actual creative processes that go into developing a social media presence, while others simply implement what has already been designed.
As a writer, holding a day job as a social media manager gives you an opportunity to be creative with words without using up all your working hours writing. This means you’ll still have some energy to contribute to your personal projects in your off-time.
A copywriter is responsible for creating the written component of advertising, which includes print ads, broadcast commercials, direct mail pieces, and public relations messages. The copywriter’s role is to develop an integrated campaign that different elements work together to accomplish the client’s objectives. Copywriters craft words into effective advertisements and sales collateral to generate brand awareness, promote product benefits, and maximize return on investment.
Copywriting is a natural fit for writers that are looking for a day job. Copywriters, depending on their expertise and industry can also pull in a hefty income. The one major problem to look out for is burnout. If you write all day at work and write all night on your personal projects, you have the perfect recipe for exhausting yourself. Heavily consider your personal daily output capabilities before pursuing a day job career as a copywriter while writing on the side.
Considerations When Picking a Day Job as a Writer
“I’ve published a few stories, and I’d like to try freelancing. I’d still like to hold on to my day job, though. What’s the best way to do that?”
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard this question, it’d probably have paid for my last cup of coffee. The short answer is that there are lots of different options, and it depends on your specific situation.
There are certain writers who have successfully held a day job and still been able to write, either by being very careful with their time or through sheer force of will. I don’t know if there’s a happy medium, but depending on what your day job is you might just be able to manage it.
Here’s all the odds and ends you need to consider when plotting your day job/moonlighting writer lifestyle.
Even if you can successfully work on your writing during lunch breaks, the evening commute home, and during other spare moments, you’re still looking at a lot less time to write. This might not be particularly difficult for established authors, but it can certainly be a challenge when you’re just starting out. For some people, with a full-time job and a family, the only chance they might have to write is early in the morning or late at night.
Determine what type of time you can commit, how much, and when. This will give you a framework. Just make sure it’s realistic and pushes you without expecting too much. (Otherwise, you’ll just stress yourself out and make yourself miserable running on the ‘never enough’ hamster wheel.)
It’s easy to stay focused during a day of office work, but it can be difficult to keep that same focus when you’re bone-tired at the end of a long day and finally have time set aside to write. Figure out how you can maximize your energy and when you feel you have the most energy. If you’re in a throwaway day job where you just need to make enough to live and don’t care about a crazy successful career within that field then make sure your schedule allows your most productive times to be spent writing.
How much money you need to survive and what you’d prefer to be making to be comfortable are major considerations. If you can take a pay cut for a less strenuous job and still be happy in your life then it may be worth the leap. If you have high expenses then you may have to trudge through a high-paying career that isn’t the most fun while writing early in the mornings or late at night. This is a very personal and unique situation that you’ll have to examine for yourself.
You’ll also want to consider networking opportunities when you pick a day job. If you have your sights set on other types of writing work, you should strategically place yourself in a position that will help you foster relationships with people who work in the writing field you want to end up in. You can use your day job to your advantage. Remember, a lot of areas of writing are still all about who you know.
Your Threshold for Creative Energy
Creative energy is a very precious commodity—we have to be careful how we allocate it. Hitting the wall in the middle of writing is like running out of gas halfway to the store—it takes a long time before we can build up enough momentum to get where we want.
This likely goes without saying but good benefits are something to watch for when taking any job. Look for medical benefits and paid time off, but also check to see if your potential employers have other perks that may benefit you like work-from-home options.
Interest & Life Experience
Listen. You’re going to be miserable if you take a job you aren’t even a little bit interested in. While most of us have been in a position where we had to take a job we despised, it isn’t something you should settle for if you have options. Finding your job intriguing can keep your spirits high and will help you continue to write more in your free time as well. If you are downtrodden it’s unlikely you’ll want to work on your writing. Instead, you may find yourself binging Netflix and ignoring the world while you dread your next shift.
Go Out and Find a Balance!
Nobody is an expert a work/life balance, especially when you’re juggling a writing career in the wings of your professional life. It’s good to remind yourself that you’re a work in progress and if you miss a day of writing it isn’t the end of your writing career. Just keep striving to build a life that fosters your writing and you’re on the right path.