So you've decided to be a web writer. Now what? If you've done any writing besides your average day-to-day writing, then it will be easier to get started. Prior writing experience is helpful, but not a necessity. Although, writing skills or the ability to learn them is an absolute must. Getting started in web writing is not as hard as it may seem. It can be a simple way to make money for people who have a genuine love for writing and the talent that goes along with it.
Study, study, and study some more.
From print journalist to hobby writer, you'll still need to learn more to become successful at writing for the web. There are many aspects of web writing that just aren't present in other outlets. Style guides are a must for every writer, web or not. I find the Yahoo! Style Guide to be very helpful and essential for web writing. Potential web writers should study up on that, as well as other common style guides to help gain the most skills and insight into the field. Also, ask experienced web writers every question you have, small or complex. Gaining insight from experienced web writers can help you get started with better understanding of how the field works.
Decide on a platform.
What type of clients or venues do you want to write for? Will you be going for various independent contracting or are looking to get hired on full time? Do you need a structured environment or can you come up with your own ideas? Would you rather submit to individuals, online magazines, content sites, or something else. Figure out where your focus will be. If you'd like to write for individual websites, some have submission guidelines and procedures to follow. With others, you may have to contact the editor or watch for writing gig listings. Content sites will have a submission process to follow. Remember that you should never have to pay in order to write for someone. You should be the one getting paid.
Study that platform.
Once you know what type of venue or platform you'd like to submit to, study it well and learn the ropes before jumping in without a clue. You don't need to know everything about it, as some aspects will only be learned by doing. But at least learn the basics of what this potential client wants and needs before submitting work. If you are submitting to a an online mag, read articles and observe what the readers respond to. Pay attention to the style, length, and tone of the work. The same is true when submitting to content sites. Know the audience, as well as what type of content fits with that platform.
Submit your first work.
Now that you've learned a little about the company, write and submit your first content. If you get accepted, keep at it with that venue and even try others when you are comfortable doing so. If you get rejected, don't let that discourage you. Rejection is only a lesson on what to do next time around. Some waiting times will be longer than others when it comes to review. While you're waiting, learn more and submit more.
Learn and grow.
This is one of the most important aspects of web writing. Whether you are just getting started or are an expert, there is always something new to learn. Keep writing and consistently apply new knowledge to your work as you learn and grow. Before you know it, you may become a full time web writer and be able to help someone else get started.
I originally published this on Yahoo! Contributor Network