Now, there are two things to be said here. The first is that my subject, "writing," is intentionally vague. Despite my talent, I haven't exactly done much writing, and readily available work even less (making a portfolio difficult to assemble). But more to the point, I'm not even sure what sort of writing I would like to branch out into.
My only writing job was working with Hydrocarbon Publishing, a small company based in PA that publishes a weekly digest about the petroleum and petrochemical industry. My job was to write up articles summarizing one or more news articles pulled from the AP feed and various magazines. Other jobs have not been writing-related and held few skills that I could apply to a career with my writing skill, aside from interpersonal skills (that I can and do learn everywhere else, anyways).
I know that there are plenty of types of writers (content writers, copywriters, ghostwriters, and probably several more I didn't think of there), but I'm not sure which I would want to be (if/when I would specialize), and am definitely not ready to specialize. Which brings me to the second thing I have to say: how do you do it?
I'm not asking for help with finding resources or jobs, necessarily (though pointing out particular good places to find such resources is always appreciated), but rather am asking for clarity. I've been doing a lot of searching on these sorts of topics, not only on this forum for the past few hours, but also my college website's list of links, and Google itself.
My biggest problem has been a lack of mentors and guides to help me along my own path. Professors would just sort of say "well, google it and see what you can find." I could never articulate to a career & co-op center exactly what I needed from them. I was left on my own with nothing but the thousands upon thousands of pages of "information" out there, on anything and everything, ranging from million dollar pieces of advice to utter bullcrap.
So what I need more than anything is some guidance. People to parse the thousands of pages of advice that are out there, not only on this site, but the internet at large, and summarize it into the most important points that will help me get started. How you got your start, and where. Basic considerations I'll need to make besides "tell people you'll write words for money" and then doing that.
Tips on specific websites, forums, etc. that I could advertise myself on, or other activities intended to generate some sort of interest in my talents and services are also welcome, but this would probably be a matter of linking me to other threads on this site (and please do, if you know of one that addresses my issues well). I've found elance.com and odesk.com on my own, but are they good sites to get started with?
All in all, I'm reasonably confident in my writing skill, and am more than willing to spend the time and energy needed to excel in my work... so long as I actually do see a reasonable return on that investment. I've tried to break into writing and designing indie games before, but every project would fall apart despite my best efforts, and I gained almost nothing from it. Hopefully, things would go better if I'm the only one I truly have to rely on.
Thanks in advance for any assistance you can offer me. Be as brief or in-depth as you'd like, though I have a feeling a brief reply with some accompanying links is probably what I'm looking for.