What do readers want? If a reader can’t tell the difference between a piece written by a punter versus a professional paid writer, and doesn’t care, then writing as a paid profession might be about to change dramatically.
I am just going to give you a second to process this fairly cogent point that Rachel made in response to this post.
Blogging (and I guess the internet in general) has given rise to a new breed of writer. One who has a reliable income stream completely unrelated to writing and thus doesn’t need to make money from writing.
This allows them to write for enjoyment and offer up the fruits of their labour for free. And lots of publications are happy to publish the work of these ‘non-professional’ writers because, as Rachel notes, readers generally aren’t demanding higher quality content.
So what does this mean for aspiring writers looking to make a dollar from their writing? They are entering a market being flooded with seasoned journalists as newspaper redundancies mount. And they are coming up against writers who are happy to write for free.
Does it mean this is a terrible time to start a writing career?
I say no. It’s actually a great time to start a writing career (so long as you’re willing to think outside the box a little).
Let’s start with one of the first challenges a new writer usually faces – the request for previously published work. It’s a bit chicken or egg – magazines and newspapers are unlikely to look at a pitch from someone who has an empty portfolio. But how can you create a portfolio if no one will publish you?
Happily, the internet is a content hungry beast and there are online publications who desperately need to feed that beast. This means new writers are able to get runs on the board very quickly. You’re unlikely to get paid for this portfolio building stuff, but it doesn’t matter. You have much bigger fish to fry.
And that fish is the corporate fish. Every single business – big or small – has a website now. And the majority of these websites are filled with bland, colourless copy. These websites are crying out for some attention from a great storyteller (that’s you!).
But it’s not exactly the same kind of fun as writing for Vogue is it? I mean writing web copy for any business is going to be pretty boring right?
That’s the sentiment I voiced to a clever friend who does a lot of corporate communication work and her eyes widened.
No way Kelly. There are a lot of corporates crying out for writers to really bring their communications to life – especially for customers and employees. More and more corporates realise they have to match the quality and entertainment value of ‘mainstream’ media if they’re to stand any chance of capturing their customers’ and employees’ attention. So they are really keen to find creative and humourous writers. Not only can it be fun work – it also pays well.
So how do you get your hands on this fun, well-paying work?
Well you ask for it.
I am a web designer and hands down the slowest part of the web design process is getting our client to provide their web copy to us. And by the time they do, it is clear they have extracted this copy from their head with all the joy of an infected tooth.
So have a look at the websites of businesses you know and love … and see if you can bring some fun and storytelling to their copy. And then pitch your services to them. Chances are they will cry with relief; oh god yes, our website copy sucks but we didn’t know there was anyone who could make it better.
Happily, once you’ve done a few of these jobs you won’t need to pitch your services anymore because businesses will start coming to you via word-of-mouth. (High five!)
And the best things about corporate work? You generally get to charge an hourly rate instead of being bound by the word rate most magazines and newspapers pay. And the lead times are much shorter so the money hits your bank account sooner. (Fist pump!)
Are you an emerging writer? Have you ever considered doing corporate writing?