There are those who say that there is no money in writing, especially in the digital era when the volume of free editorial content is near limitless. It remains possible to build yourself a writing career, though, and there is good money to be made from the written word for those with the skill to spin a sentence on a sixpence and no aversions to hard graft.
Article by Jessica.
If you love ideas and the written word, then an writing career could be ideal for you. Editors are creative, organised and accurate, with excellent writing skills. You may meet all that criteria already but without experience, your chances of a job are very slim.
This guide aims to show you the kind of editorial positions available right from day one, through to what is available after decades of hard work and the kinds of salary you can expect at each stage. As with many creative careers, salary is often dependant on experience and the size of the organisation. Smaller magazines or media companies may only be able to offer a fraction of the salary available at larger organisation.
How to get experience
How to get into journalism
Journalism work experience
Before any prospect of a paying job, you will need writing experience. Usually, budding editors are graduates, although strictly speaking this is not required, only preferred. Therefore most people are armed with some kind of writing experience but in the world of media, this is not enough. You will need writing experience in a professional environment.
There are several paths to go down where you will gain valuable experience. A good starting point is a writing or editorial role at your student newspaper. Other good opportunities include submitting articles to your local paper or looking for websites that accept guest blogs online. There are also many internet marketing companies who will take on volunteer bloggers, which will enable you to build up an online portfolio of writing.
Internships, although often unpaid, are a valuable opportunity and definitely worth the time, and inevitable costs involved. Here you will gain first-hand experience of working in a professional writing environment.
The first step on the career ladder
At this stage you will most likely begin as a ‘junior’ or ‘assistant’ and it these two key words you should keep an eye out for when searching. Competition for paid roles is fierce and getting that first job can be the hardest step.
Typically your first job will be as a Junior Writer, Editorial Assistant, Proof Reader or Blogger. The only real requirement for these roles is strong research skills, excellent portfolio of writing, experience and a degree in an arts or humanities subject (in particular English or Journalism).
For these kinds of roles, salaries vary between companies but something in region of £13- 20,000 would be expected- with a tendency lean towards the lower end of the spectrum.
Some companies offer training programmes, ideal for young graduates such as the Editorial and Training Programme at Incisive Media. The pay for this scheme is generous at £20,000, considering the training provided.
Another opportunity around at the moment is the role of Editorial Assistant at Hammerville Media Group. The salary is £20,000 and for that they expect an experienced and organised graduate, with a flair for writing.
The next step
Once you’ve gained some experience, your options open up a little. It is still unlikely that you will be able to get an editorial position, unless it is for a very small company and then you’d be looking at a very small salary to match, probably around £15,000.
More experienced writing positions are good opportunities at this stage. You can expect a salary of £20,000 to £28,000 for an experienced writing position. For example, an Online Writer for Progressive Digital Media is offered a salary of £20-22,000. In this role, they are looking for someone with at least two years’ experience but other than that; writing, research and organisation are key to success in this role.
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Middle of the ladder
At this stage, the opportunity for editorial positions opens up, particularly for a small to medium size organisation. There is also the possibility of deputy editor roles at medium sized organisations. Typically, you’d expect to be earning between £25- 35,000- although this dependant both on your experience and the size of the company.
Examples of jobs at this level are an Online Web Editor for Hybrid News, where the salary offered is 25,000. For a role like this, you would need a relevant degree combined with experience of online editing, copywriting and social media.
At the other end of the scale, a deputy editor role at a larger organisation, such as Henley Media Group would offer a salary of 30-34,000.
After 10-15 years’ experience in an editorial role – such as Features Editor or Deputy Editor, you can be considered for the role The Editor at medium to large organisations.
As you climb the career ladder, you take on more and more responsibility until you are actually The Editor and every aspect of the magazine or newspaper is under your name. As result, leadership skills become as important as your ability to generate ideas, edit and write.
The salary reflects the level of responsibility that comes with this role with typical salaries between £38,000-65,000. However, the largest newspapers and magazine are likely to pay much more.
An example of a job at this level would be Editorial and Features Manager at Become where the salary is advertised at £40,000. The higher up the ladder you go, the more likely you will be required to have specialist knowledge. For example, in this role an excellent knowledge of the fashion industry is required.
Life as an editorial professional…
Despite fierce competition, there is money in editorial roles- although salary is dependent on skill, experience and the size of the organisation. Those who climb to the top of this ladder, do so out of sheer determination and once you begin editing for large organisations, the sky’s the limit in terms of money. But until then, as with many creative careers, the salary is unpredictable so really, you do it for the love of writing, not the money.