The nitty-gritty: You don't have to be a professional scribe to find work in this arena. You do need a clear grasp of sentence and paragraph construction, spelling, grammar and punctuation. Jobs run the gamut from copy editing and proofreading to résumé writing and technical editing. If you have expertise in a particular field or genre, that's all the better for opening doors.
Copy editors, proofreaders or writers can check out AARP's job search tool or sites like JournalismJobs.com for a range of postings for part-time writing and editing jobs. You can also set up your own shop to provide these résumé and essay-tuning services. Freelance writers can find postings on Freelancer.com or Elance.
For more general writing gigs, you might reach out to local associations and organizations, community newsletters and other regional publications. Ask if they need an extra hand on an assignment basis for online and print articles, brochures and press releases.
The hours: Freelance writers and editors typically set their own schedules based on deadlines.
Median pay range: A writer might expect to make anywhere from $9 to $74 an hour, according to Payscale.com. But few writing jobs are billed that way. Project rates may vary between $15 and $40 an hour. For creating a polished résumé for a client, you might charge a base fee of $200. Some publishers pay freelance writers by the word or by the article, and that fluctuates widely depending on your background and experience. Anywhere from 50 cents to $3 a word is not out of the ordinary. If you write for an online publisher, you might be paid solely based on the number of times Web visitors view your article or whether the content is licensed to other publishers. Copy editors can earn anywhere from around $20 an hour to nearly $85 an hour, depending on experience, according to Payscale.com.
Qualifications: No formal training is required. Employers often look for expertise in a variety of fields, from health care to taxes to résumé writing. For newsier publications, a grasp of the Associated Press Stylebook or the Chicago Manual of Style might be necessary. Plus, The Elements of Style by Strunk and White never goes out of style.
Kerry Hannon, AARP jobs expert, is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her books include What's Next? Finding Your Passion and Your Dream Job in Your Forties, Fifties and Beyond and Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills. Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon.
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