I’m incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to do something I love and earn a living from it. Although it’s difficult at times, writing for a living is a divine dream. The knowledge that I actually get paid to do something I’d do for free is amazing. Although, as many can attest to, it’s incredibly tough to throw in the security of working for someone else to start out on your own. Working for yourself is almost like working without a net and still trying to pull off acrobatic stunts on the high wire! Not only do you need the requisite skills and experience to make your venture a viable option, you also require impressive organisational skills, the right advice and resources plus an almost single-minded drive to succeed. You may also need the ability to stave off night terrors too, for those times you can’t help but think about balancing your books! This is an especially scary thought during the early years; the years when you seem to have ever-escalating expenses and a virtually non-existent profit margin.
At first, it was hard to take myself seriously as a self- employed writer, even though I’d been writing creatively for as long as I could remember and had considerable experience as a copywriter through previous employers. As for starting up a small business, I was completely out of my depth and didn’t have the faintest idea where to begin. However, there was one thing I was completely certain of; this was the greatest opportunity I’d ever have for professional fulfilment and I’d kick myself eventually if I didn’t try. To be able to put my talents to use as a freelancer I’ve had to develop a focused mindset and some pretty quick fingers, as it’s often a labour-intensive and time sensitive undertaking. Thankfully the advent of computers means I don’t have to write it all out longhand as I once used to when I first began creative writing!
One of the difficulties and pleasures of this job is having to write about random topics I initially have no intrinsic knowledge of or affinity for. Meaning, I have to invest a significant amount of time researching not only the topic but the expected audience and intended market impact of the project. Research often includes industry keyword searches for search optimisation, discovering multiple external authorities that can be cross-linked and for some projects, finding and selecting the perfect imagery to accompany the content. A huge consideration is always ensuring that I comply with the expectations of the client encompassing; brand integrity, company values, key stakeholders, core products and possible concurrent campaigns. This all happens before crafting the word wizardry necessary to make sensational copy that converts. Needless to say, completing this all before a looming deadline comes due is a necessity, as we all know how important timelines usually are, especially when dealing with marketing campaigns. Yet even with all this to consider, I wouldn’t change a thing about life as a freelance writer. That probably makes me a masochist or even a little crazy. I’m happy to be either or both if it means I get to live a creative and rewarding life.
There are many things that affect the tone of a piece of writing, primarily the subject matter but also the expected audience and the motivation of the piece; is it to entertain, to inform or is it to sell? With blogs, you have to strike the right balance between conversational language and informative subject matter, whereas a feature article generally has a more formal feel. Your content should reflect these differences, albeit subtly. When trying to decide the right language or individual voice for a piece I usually envisage my audience, giving them a life complete with ages, jobs and back-stories. I find it really helps me to connect to what I’m writing if I can gauge my readers’ reactions and make assumptions based on the linguistic style they would best respond to.
The initial stages of striking out on your own can be confronting and difficult, at times it’s outright terrifying but the rewards of running your own business and doing what you love for a living far outweigh the negatives. Living my dream of being a professional writer is something I’ve wanted since childhood and even now, I sometimes find it hard to believe that it’s actually a reality. So if you’re not enthused about your everyday work-life, maybe it’s time to think about what it is that you really want to do, then go out and do it. We so rarely have the chance to capitalise on the gift of opportunity, so when I finally decided that I wanted something different for my life, I made a conscious choice to expand my horizons and embark on a new adventure. Despite the challenges, it’s been incredibly worthwhile and I can say, without reservation – there’s not a single thing I regret about that fateful decision!
So I suggest to you that if there’s something you really want for yourself, have the courage to strive for it. Now is the perfect time to make a difference in your world and perhaps, in doing so…..you may even make a difference in our world.