This is a guest post from Chris Hoole. I have to agree, going pro as a writer is pretty daft.
It’s not easy, it’s not always fun, and sometimes you wonder if you’re in the right line of work.
However as he mentions, for many writers it’s not always a matter of choice… it’s almost a compulsion! Kind of like diarrhea of the fingers or something.
Words. Must. Come. OUT. Yea, like that!
Anyhoo, how about you? Do you feel the creative seduction to go pro? Do you fancy yourself a writer? Do you wanna, wanna? Drop your thoughts in the comments below and tell us about your dreams.
We promise to laugh and poke fun only where necessary. 😉
Going ‘pro’ as a writer is possibly one of the daftest career choices you can make. I say choices, but most writers would probably agree with me when I say writing ‘chooses’ you; it’s just one of those things.
Sometimes I blame my parents, assuming that they forgot to invite my wicked godmother to my christening, prompting her to make me prick my finger on the nib of a pen as a child and compulsively write for ever more.
Most creative industries are a bit like this, but writing seems to be the one that it can be the hardest to break into. There’s no easy route either, especially if you are a budding novelist, although the Internet has made self-publishing a real possibility.
But giving up the day job and writing full-time? Is that really possible? Again, the Internet has certainly made that a lot easier than it ever was in the past, but there are as many pitfalls for newbies to the trade as there are advantages.
Opportunities as an Online Copywriter
Type in ‘online copywriting’ to most search engines and you’ll find a mass of PPC adverts offering you the opportunity to make big bucks if you click on them. Somebody will definitely make big bucks out of those adverts, but it probably won’t be you.
If you want to learn to be a writer, do a degree in creative writing or journalism. Twenty odd years ago that wasn’t really an option as they were thin on the ground, these days they’re everywhere and they are genuine routes into writing.
Degrees are expensive in the long run, so if you can’t face that, at least try some adult education courses. There’s no get rich quick scheme to becoming a writer, or copywriter, so if you find one on offer, click away.
Quit the Day Job?
In order to avoid not getting sued for loss of earnings I’m going to say this is your decision. It depends on your circumstances really – if you have a day job and it pays your bills, quitting is probably not plan A.
Establishing yourself with a sound client base is probably a better plan A and will also give you a feel for the world of online copywriting, before you fully commit. However, recessions and all, not everyone has a day job anymore.
Necessity, they reckon, is the mother of invention and I have a sneaking suspicion it’s been seen loitering in the ‘Writing Career Maternity Ward’ on more than one occasion. From Jane Austen to Faye Weldon there are numerous examples of great writers starting out because there was a clear and pressing need to bring home the bacon. (Ms Weldon, in case you didn’t know started out as an offline copywriter).
There’s probably no coincidence that the two I’ve mentioned are women; a lot of women today find themselves left holding the baby and not having much to get by on; for them online copywriting can be the answer to a lot of prayers.
If you are in either the ‘suddenly jobless’ or ‘stuck at home with the kids’ categories, then turning to copywriting can certainly be plan A.
Keep Calm and Carry On
Write every day. This is good advice for any writer, and probably unnecessary for more established writers. If you’re starting out, your order books may not be brimming over with work, which can mean you don’t have a pressing need to write every day.
Writing every day keeps whatever mental muscle is required for the task, fresh, supple and ready to go. If you are only doing a few copywriting jobs a week, then that part of your mind can ‘stiffen’ up.
On days you’re not working, write a journal, a blog or some sample articles and post them on article directories yourself. In addition to keeping you fresh and ready for the next job, it has the benefit of building up work that you can showcase to potential clients.
For more experienced writers this has some benefits too. You might not want to pick up a pen or keyboard after a day of copywriting, but a bit of downtime writing can provide some diversion from the ‘day job’.
I could be wrong, but I suspect that many copywriters are also working on a novel somewhere, or aspiring too, or sending one out repeatedly to publishers. Getting away from the daily copywriting that actually makes you a living can be difficult, so setting time aside to do so should be top of your list.
All Work and No Play
Writers of any variety don’t take time off. Sometimes we pretend too, because families get annoyed about not having holidays and all that stuff. Because writing involves a lot of thinking, it’s virtually impossible to have time off as a writer.
You’ll be lying on a beach somewhere and bang, there’s another bloody idea. You’ll find yourself ending up with notebook-shaped white patches spoiling your nearly perfect tan, but you get used to it in the end.
As I said at the start of this blog, you don’t choose writing, it chooses you. Once it has you in its grip there is very little chance of escape. The good side to this is that I’ve never met a writer who doesn’t just love it. When you start out as a copywriter, especially if you have a day job, it can be all consuming.
However, with time you’ll be able to factor some downtime in, and it’s important you do, even if that downtime includes lying around with a notebook to hand. Making it to success as a copywriter is not always easy, and like most successes in writing it will not happen overnight.
However, with energy, commitment, sheer hard work and a bit of thick-skin thrown in, you’ll find that starting out as a writer is not (nearly) as hard as it used to be!
Alright you know the drill. If you liked it, share it. If you have an opinion, comment it. If you hated it… meh… you can still tell it to my comments box, but it has selective approval. 😉