“Writing is easy. You only need to stare at a piece of blank paper until your forehead bleeds.”
– Douglas Adams
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Professional writing in the capacity of many clients to one writer is, for the purposes of this guide, called Freelance Writing. This essentially means that the writer takes projects, completes them and receives payment once they are done. There are no uniform hours, pay rates or even experiences – freelance writing is essentially what you make of it, which means it’s a great job or supplemental option for those that don’t mind a little hard work on their own terms.
That being said, it is important to note that not everyone can write in a professional capacity. If you try it out and feel uncomfortable or frustrated with the experience, it’s entirely possible it’s not a good fit for you. Everyone has different skill sets – some people are athletic, others are quick-witted, and still others are skilled with the written word. If writing isn’t your forte, it doesn’t mean that you aren’t talented elsewhere.
For the purposes of this guide, we’ll be discussing writing of the marketing variety – articles about corporations, sales copy for services, product descriptions and other pieces of wordwork that go into making a company attractive to customers. What we will NOT cover are pieces such as novels, short stories, poems and other creative written endeavors. While marketing writing does take creativity and there are some shared characteristics, these two art forms are very different. Finding professional writing projects for creative forms is often considerably more difficult than marketing ones, and so new writers would do better to focus on the more plentiful option.
Why do Companies Pay For Writing?
Understanding why a company hands over money for words in the first place helps a beginning writer better understand why his or her efforts are so sought after. The reasons usually fall into a mix of two “camps”: the customer side and the technical side.
The customer must be spoken to clearly and concisely – they need to be informed about the product so they know why they ought to buy or consider it. The written word has an advantage over in-person salespeople: it can reach millions of people that aren’t in the store, and it can be carefully written beforehand, where spoken discussions must be quickly created on the spot. Projects written for the customer side are intended to appeal directly to the reader, coaxing them to perform an action like purchasing an item.
The technical side, as you may imagine, is a little bit more complex. Companies want search engines, Google being the main and most well-known, to notice them on the internet. Good notice equates to higher placement in the Search Engine Results Pages or SERPS, a fancy name for the screen you see after you search for a term on the engine’s website. Most potential customers will click a link high up on the first page of results because it’s easy, and may not even wander to page 2 for additional options. This makes it vital for a company to have high placement, which can be worked towards by having lots of relevant information about their products or services on the company webpage. A website selling kites, for instance, can take steps towards improving their placement by adding articles about kite history, or good materials for kites right onto their site. This will gain them a little notice in Google, and may even drive some customers to the store section of their site to buy a kite as well. These two articles reflect the items they sell, and also show Google that they want to inform their customers as much as encourage them to buy.
In this example, you would be the writer that makes these two articles for the company. This is an example of marketing writing used to improve a company, and keeping this mutually beneficial model in mind will help you keep motivated in your writing endeavors.
Why Don’t Companies Write For Themselves?
It may seem puzzling to some that a company doesn’t just hand an employee a pad and pen and tell them to get to work. The reason at least smart companies don’t is that specialization is important in all components of a business. Managers don’t pull warehouse employees away from moving pallets to work on the sales floor, and restaurants don’t expect wait staff to come into the kitchen to cook. The best results come from putting employees where they do the best work, and smaller companies don’t have the money to keep a writer on staff.
Some projects may even involve cleaning up the mess left behind when companies take a shot at writing without the proper skills. The results they turn out often have the exact opposite effect of their intended one, with customers failing to respond to “loud” sales copy, poor spelling and less-than-ideal grammar created at the hands of an owner or well-meaning employee. These companies seldom make the same mistake twice, and will usually gladly hand off the task to professionals after seeing their own lackluster results.
Why YOU Should Write For Money
Writing for money is a rewarding career that can be taken up by anyone that can manage the right tone and work ethic to succeed. It doesn’t require a college degree, a stumbling block that has forced many people into jobs they hate for the sake of getting by financially. It is not a “scheme” that requires hours upon hours of unpaid training, an expensive “start-up kit”, or even a job that requires you to leave the home. It’s an excellent way to make some money to pay for groceries or gas, and it requires minimal, if any, childcare if you have a family.