Many journalists commence their careers as freelance writers, submitting articles to newspapers and magazines. Eventually, they may be employed on staff. Others develop a strong freelance business. This course is designed to prepare people for such career paths. It concentrates on developing the skills needed to succeed as a writer, and an awareness of how to develop a career in this industry.

Student Comment

'Many of the skills that I have learnt from this course help me on a day to day basis'.
A. Peterson, ACS Journalism student.

This Course is Accredited through the International Accreditation & Recognition Council

Graduates of this course wishing to do the Advanced Certificate in Applied Management -Publishing and Journalism, will be granted significant exemptions from that accredited course.

How Do I get a Start as a Writer or Journalist?

Answer- You need skills, experience, perseverance,a good attitude, and to be networking to develop contacts within the industry. This course aims to develop you in all of these respects.


This course may open up career paths for jobs such as:

  • Freelance Writer
  • Copy Writer
  • Editorial Assistant
  • Assistant Journalist
  • Journalist
  • Publishing Assistant
  • Editor
  • Publishing Sales Manager


Course Content
The course is made up of 6 modules as follows:

Module 1. Freelance Writing
Many professional writers start out by freelancing.
This course will show you how to write, what writing is marketable, and how to go about selling your work. Emphasis is placed on things which are important to publishers who might buy your work. Tutors concentrate on your ability to properly structure an article, and to be both concise and clear in your use of words. Learning outcomes for graduates of the course include:

  • Have improved communication skills, particularly with respect to clarity, conciseness and correct grammar.
  • Be familiar with the "writing industry"; having a clear idea of where opportunities exist for obtaining work as a freelance writer.
  • Know how to go about approaching potential clients to obtain work.
  • Have an understanding of the processes involved in publishing books, magazines and newspapers;
    from generating concepts to seeing the finished publication on sale.

There are ten lessons:

  1.  Introduction
  2. Basic Writing Skills
  3. The Publishing World
  4. Manuscripts
  5. Planning
  6. Newspaper Writing
  7. Magazine Writing
  8. Writing Books
  9. Writing Advertising
  10. Special Project

Module 2. Advanced Freelance Writing
This is an ideal course to follow Freelance Writing for people with existing skills, but a need to improve their overall technique and develop a more "commercial" approach to their work. Eight lessons:
1. Writing Themes
2. Writing a Regular Column
3. Educational Writing
4. Scientific Writing
5. Writing a Biographical Story
6. Writing a News Article
7. Fiction Writing
8. Other Writing.

Module 3. Editing l
This course develops your understanding of the purposes and aims of editing, and also of what editors do. Students will learn about the importance of clear, effective writing throughout all stages of the publishing process and how editors assess manuscripts and prepare them for publication. The course may be taken alone or as part of higher level courses in journalism, writing, editing and publishing.
The course covers: the nature and scope of editing, the role and responsibility of the editor in publishing, working with authors and publishers, the editing process and skills required, copyright and other legal concerns, indexing and referencing, varying the approach according to the kind of
book, etc.

Module 4. Publishing l
This course provides an excellent start for anyone considering self publishing, or seeking employment in publishing. It is equally relevant to electronic or print publishing. There are ten lessons as follows:
1. Nature and scope of the publishing world
2. Publishing procedures and techniques
3. Desktop publishing A
4. Desktop publishing B
5. Illustration: Graphics
6. Illustration: Photography
7. Research Skills: Market research, researching an article
8. Marketing of publications
9. Ethics and the law in publishing
10. Developing a publishing Project

Module 5. Photoshop
Provides a basic understanding of how to create and manipulate images using Adobe Photoshop, for use on the web as well as print. There are 9 lessons in this module as follows:
1. Getting Started
2. Working With Digital Image Files
3. Understanding The Tool Palette
4. Using Layers, Actions, and History
5. Digital Painting, Shapes and Colours
6. Selecting, Resizing, Transforming and Masking
7. Adjustments and Modifications
8. Adding Filters and Effects
9. Preparing Files For Print and Web

Module 6. plus one relevant elective module/short course from one of these fields of study -
writing, publishing, editing, IT, or photography.


(An extract from our principal's book on Professional writing, available at www.acsbookshop.com)

Being a professional writer may earn you money - but it doesn’t necessarily earn you a good rate of pay. As we said in an earlier chapter, some writers may write as part of their existing job, some may write for pleasure, some may write as a hobby. A hobby writer cannot be called a ‘professional writer’ but once you are paid for your writing, you change from being a hobbyist into a professional.

We all hear about writers who are multi-millionaires, signing contracts for books to be made into movies and living extravagant lifestyles. The truth though, is that very few writers will ever have this type of experience, and most of these writers will have been slogging away for years, before they hit the jackpot.

If you are unknown, you will need to spend time establishing yourself as a writer. In reality this will probably mean that you will be spending many hours writing things that you are not being paid for. You will be working to create an image and a face in the market place. These days this is somewhat easier than it was in the past, with the advent of blogs, face book, twitter and so on. The downside is that there will also be many others doing exactly the same thing. So in order to succeed, your writing must be of a very high standard, capture the reader’s attention and be relevant to a broad audience. Your image must be professional, confident and friendly. You must be easy to reach and open to new ideas, be well-informed and have knowledge of world-issues and events. In other words you need to have a very broad and well-educated demeanor to become a sought after professional writer.

Writing Speed can be Important
A professional writer will need to be able to work to a certain level of output. The level will depend on what you are doing. For example, an article writer may be employed to write 10,000 words a day on a variety of different topics. An author may be required to write ten pages a day. A blog writer may have to write ten blogs a day of 500 to 700 words. Some writers working as part of their job may be required to produce a certain type of writing, for example, a blog a week or two tweets a day on twitter; or five comments a day on Facebook. The requirement will depend on what you are being paid to do. This can be very much like working in any other high-pressure business environment. The person paying for your writing is not concerned about your ‘artistic temperament’, so you will need to always have a professional approach and realise that the expectations on a writer in relation to work efficiency, are like those for any other job.

People writing for pleasure will obviously not have the same deadlines to adhere to, but they may set their own limits and suggestions for how they work. For example, Marina Lewycka won prizes for her first novel, A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. Before, she was successful, when she was working, she would rise every morning early and write for a couple of hours before work. Now a successful novelist, she says that she works everyday from 6am until lunchtime. She decided what works for her and sticks to it.

Any writer may be required to write a certain number of words an hour or a day to meet the standards set by themselves, their publishers or their editors. For example, a publisher may consider around 350 to 500 words an hour appropriate. Some writers may take much longer than this to produce that amount of words, or may produce a very rough draft of the words in that time. Writers who are not able to meet the requirements of their publishers, editors or even themselves may not make a viable income from their writing.

Speed Without Quality is a Problem
Producing a lot of words in a short period, is not going to earn you an income if the publisher or employer is faced with above average costs to proof-read and edit the material. Also, if what you are writing is not very good, it will not be likely to sell or gain you work as a writer. So it is not just about speed, but about the quality of the work you produce. It will be assumed that your repeat work will only be as good as your last performance.

Do not fall into the trap of assuming you are a good writer because your friends and family say you are – mix with your peers and listen to comments from the editors that you have submitted your work to. You can learn a lot by staying cool and taking positive criticism on-board. At the end of the day you will not sell your work if your writing skills are not sufficient and you have not developed the ability to be an effective communicator.

Increase Profitability With Illustration
Depending on who you are writing for, some authors may find that if they can provide illustrations or photographs to go with their work, it can make their work more attractive to their publisher or editor. If you build a stock library of illustrations or digital photographs you can put yourself in the position of being able to supply illustration with minimum effort. The visuals can increase your final payment, as you are paid sometimes for the illustration as well as the written copy. Some websites ask for copies of video clips as well as photos to illustrate a piece of writing. When writing freelance articles for larger magazine publishers, many of these have their own stock of photos that they may use to illustrate a story and they will do this usually without consulting with the writer on which photo accompanies the final print. If they like the writing piece, they may be prepared to send their own photographer out to take a range of suitable photos, though this will often make it more expensive for them to complete the final edition, which could be an issue if funding is tight.

Get Something Extra From Your Writing
Some writers will get other perks from their writing, for example: writing books or magazine articles that you get paid for, but which also promote your business.

Writing can help raise your profile in the wider world. It can, for example, help a cook promote their restaurant, help a nurseryman promote their garden centre, or help a broadcaster promote their radio show. Often the name of the writer or their business name, their business address, phone number and/or web site are included either at the beginning of the story (as a lead on) or at the end of a story. The writer may be able to ‘ do a deal’ with the publisher if it is a newspaper, magazine or blog, by paying for a small advertisement on the page (for their business) then submitting a quality piece of writing that the publisher uses to fill the page. In that way, both writer and publisher benefit. You would not be paid for the writing you produce, but you may in effect receive a page, or a half, or quarter page of writing when you have only paid for a small section of the whole page with your advertisement. This takes skill, as many publishers will not appreciate blatant advertising within the content of the article. They are much more likely to ask you to write an article on your specialised area (which may also be what your business is doing e.g. a nursery may write an article on the best flowering plants for summer) and then give you a free advertisement as payment or just as an agreement to advertise your name and business as stated earlier in the body of the article.

Some writers of novels or textbooks will also make additional money by writing articles, blogs and so on about their topic. For example, a psychology textbook writer may also be able to write articles about psychology, which they might sell to appropriate magazines.

Academics can develop a following in magazines, newspapers and online, if they are able to write about topics in a way that makes them 'reader friendly'. They can also become the “expert”. For example, you often read medical pages in newspapers, where people can write in to ask about their medical problems. If there is a health scare, the doctor may be asked to write about it, or write general articles such as how to reduce your blood pressure. The more well known an expert becomes, the more writing work they can gain in different writing arenas.

Self Publishing can be Profitable; but not Without a Distribution Network
Some writers may decide to self-publish. Self-publishing was once considered to be the poor relation of writing. It was something that writers did if they could not find a publisher to print their own work. Today, self-publishing is not quite so simple. Some writers decide to self-publish as a way to cut out the middle-man (the publisher). It can mean that they will retain more of the royalties for sales of their books than they would if the publisher printed a book for them. To self-publish, funding is needed up front, and generally the larger the print-run the cheaper (overall) it works out. The trick to this is exposure and advertising. As a self -publisher you may need to approach each book shop individually and/or set up a well- constructed and linked web site to sell the books. It can take years to get back the final return on your initial investment so plan carefully for self-publishing and preferably develop a marketing plan at the same time.