Author
Joe LaFata
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Writing website copy for software and eCommerce companies, producing blog content and email copy, and running a self-established freelance business might not be what comes to mind when you imagine English students post-graduation. In today’s market, however, the skills learned in English classes are in growing demand.

Kaleigh Moore, UIS graduate and freelance copywriter.

Kaleigh Moore, a UIS graduate with a minor in English and a major in Communication, is one of many students capitalizing on her writing abilities.

“Practicing critical thinking and writing during my time at UIS prepared me by forcing me to communicate and write well—which is what I do now,” said Moore.

After graduation, Moore began freelance writing in her spare time while also holding a full-time job in public relations. Yet the more she wrote blog content, email campaigns, and website copy for various clients and companies, the more it became clear that her ability to write in various styles and across different mediums was a skill that could be turned into a career.

“Over time, I was able to transition into a full-time freelance career as the volume of requests I was getting started to increase to a more sustainable level,” said Moore.

One of the skills adopted from literature and writing courses is the ability to identify specific audiences and adapt writing accordingly, which is something that Moore must do frequently in the writing she produces for others. Lena Prickett from SnapApp commissioned Moore to produce content for her blog and was surprised at how well the writing was tailored to the cadence of the rest of her content.

“She quickly adopted the SnapApp voice and tone,” Prickett said, “so her pieces fit right in on the blog. Kaleigh is one of the best freelance content writers I’ve worked with. She has an incredibly quick turnaround time—which is such a load off in a field that can be full of delays and missed deadlines.”

In the age where we receive most of our information while idly scrolling through glowing screens, it is more important than ever that writing is interesting, effective, and representational of the company or brand behind the writing. This is one reason that graduates such as Moore are becoming highly valued in today’s market—the critical skills they learned in English and Communication courses allow them to write content for nearly anyone or any company. And, especially when content is produced as quickly as it is in our digital age, there is certainly no shortage of new content to be written.

Online content is also more valuable to companies and businesses than ever. Moore, for example, has written content that “boosted monthly leads by 70% in just 24 hours,” written email copy that generated over 800 new leads, and even written a blog post that resulted in upwards of $10,000 in revenue. With so much direct results from written content, it’s no wonder freelance writers such as Moore and candidates with the types of skills fostered in English classes are becoming more and more relevant as companies that work mostly online are beginning to harness the strengths of the written word.

Growing her business through referrals, Moore has been able to create her own sustainable career. With the help of her husband, another UIS graduate, Moore launched her own website through which she books clients, distributes her own newsletter, and even offers coaching services for others in the business of freelance writing. “I’m three years in now and am earning more every single year,” said Moore.

“I’m proud to have written for Inc. Magazine and Entrepreneur as well as for large companies like AT&T and Campaign Monitor,” said Moore, “but I also really love working with smaller non-profits and organizations I care about.”

Moore’s contributor profile for Inc. Magazine.

The coffee-shop stigma that surrounds English majors and minors may be finally breaking down as written content becomes increasingly important for companies in their digital efforts. SEO (Search Engine Optimization) writers, copy editors, blog content creators, and website writers continue to broaden the once-narrow field of “technical writing,” and the English student couldn’t be in a more advantageous position to become employed in this quickly-growing career.

“It’s one of the most basic and essential skills you can hone,” said Moore. “It makes you extremely marketable as a new hire—so I’d encourage anyone who’s uncertain about a career path to consider going this route.”

UIS, especially with its newly designed MA in English with tracks in Digital Publishing and Digital Pedagogy, is highly aware of the changing prospects for English students. One skill that the UIS English department emphasizes is the evaluation of an audience and the adaptation of writing to tailor to that audience, a skillset similar to much of the work that Moore does in researching her clients’ needs and writing content accordingly. Their new MA in English has classes that are specifically developed for this, such as Rhetoric and Composition in Digital Media.

English majors and minors are branching into more and more positions in fields such as Communication, Public Relations, and website creation through their abilities to think critically and write exceptionally. Moore is just one example of the success of these skills.

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