Real estate writers can find employment with all types of media—print, broadcast, and online. The most obvious sources of employment are with newspapers and industry journals, but don’t count out industry associations, educational publications, law firms specializing in real estate law, and the government.
The major newspaper, magazine, and book publishers and broadcasting companies account for the concentration of journalistic writers in large cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Opportunities with small publishers and broadcasting companies can be found throughout the country. Freelance writers can work from a home base and report on topics per assignment.
A fair amount of experience is required to gain a high-level position in the field. Most real estate writers start out in entry-level positions such as junior staff writer, or editorial assistant. Don’t be discouraged if your first writing job is not related to real estate. It is more important to get solid writing experience under your belt, and then move the direction of your writing to real estate-related topics.
Entry-level jobs may be listed with college career services offices, or obtained by applying directly to the employment departments of individual publishers or broadcasting companies. Graduates who previously served internships with these companies often have the advantage of knowing someone who can give them a personal recommendation. Want ads in newspapers and trade journals are another source for jobs. Because of the competition for positions, however, few vacancies are listed with public or private employment agencies. Don’t forget to check association Web sites, which often post job openings, dates of upcoming job fairs, and other networking opportunities. The NAREE, for example, holds an annual conference giving editors, reporters, columnists, freelancers, and authors who cover the real estate industry a chance to discuss trends and network with their peers.
Get your clippings in order, especially those that are real estate related. Employers usually are interested in samples of published writing. These may be assembled in an organized portfolio or scrapbook, or maintained as a series of links or PDF files in a digital or online portfolio. Bylined or signed articles are more credible (and, as a result, more useful) than stories whose source is not identified.
Beginning positions as junior staff writers usually involve library research, preparation of rough drafts for part or all of a report, cataloging, and other related writing tasks. At times, they may be given an assignment to complete independently. Such tasks are generally carried on under the supervision of a senior writer.
Most real estate writers find their first jobs as editorial, production, or research assistants. Advancement may be more rapid in small media companies, where beginners learn by doing a little bit of everything and may be given writing tasks immediately. At large publishers or broadcast companies, duties are usually more compartmentalized. Assistants in entry-level positions are assigned such tasks as research and fact checking, but it generally takes much longer to advance to full-scale writing duties.
Promotion into higher-level positions may come with the assignment of more important articles and stories to write, or it may be the result of moving to another company. A staff writer at a real estate magazine that covers the Midwest may switch to a similar position at a more prestigious publication that covers the entire United States. Or a news writer may switch to a different media as a form of advancement. Newspaper writers may move to cover the industry for an online site, or broadcast real estate reports for a local television station or cable channel.
As staff writers become more experienced in a particular aspect of the real estate industry they may be permanently assigned that beat. Writers may also be given a regular by-line column. The New York Times, for example, has several columnists that cover the real estate industry in general, as well as special interest areas such as architecture and new housing developments. Special features usually appear in weekly sections of the paper that deal with home or housing concerns.
Freelance or self-employed writers earn advancement in the form of bigger projects and larger fees as they gain exposure and establish their reputations.
Write as often as you can and create a portfolio of your work to show potential employers.
If you are an expert regarding real estate, start a blog or Twitter account to raise your profile and attract the interest of potential employers.
Read real estate-related journals to learn what types of topics they cover, as well as obtain contact information for editorial staff members who are responsible for hiring. Suggestions include Realtor Magazine (https://www.nar.realtor/realtor-magazine) and The Real Estate Professional (http://www.therealestatepro.com).
Apply for entry-level jobs in the real estate industry in order to gain experience in the field.
Join professional associations to access training and networking opportunities, industry publications, and employment opportunities.