In a recent post, Rebekah Carter explained the crucial importance of storytelling and personalisation to content marketing. Who better to tell a personal story, then, than Rebekah herself?
From Pouring Drinks to Serving up Content
I make my living as a professional content writer.
I’ve experienced a lot in my life, yet the deeper I travel into the world of online marketing and content production, the more I can appreciate the progression of failures, heartaches, and inspirational changes that have led me towards a life of writing.
Currently, I’m lucky enough to write professionally for a wide range of different clients and companies, pulling threads of experience together across a host of varying industries. That’s one of the amazing things about copywriting – the job is constantly changing and almost always involves new challenges, so you’ll never get bored. One day, I’m sharing my expertise on health and fitness, while the next I’ll be writing about new cars and technological trends.
Although some people still don’t take the idea of professional copywriting seriously, my journey to where I am today certainly wasn’t easy. Though I’ve worked hard to get here, I’m by no means famous, or blessed with an enviable bank account. Yet, in spite of this, my career has given me one thing I’ve rarely found anywhere else – I’m happy.
Where it All Began
I’ve always been a writer – deep down inside. I don’t wish to sound overly poetic, but some people just know their calling. They know what they’re meant to do, even before they know exactly how they’re going to do it.
Writing has been something that resonated with me from the moment I started school, and began scrawling English essays and creative stories for a plethora of teachers. I’d pore over books far above my reading level, cramp my hands writing page after page of adventure and fantasy. Yet, even as I grew older, I never really considered writing to be something I could do for a living.
A career in writing seemed comparable to one as a famous singer or actor. People dream of getting there, but only a very select few will actually make it. So, after I finished college, I looked for a job that would pay the bills, and set my dreams on a shelf to gather dust.
I served drinks in cafes and bars, baked cakes for patrons, and even dabbled in a voluntary career that allowed me to connect with isolated people from my local area and prompt them into social activities. Yet, during all of that time, I was still a writer – penning pieces for myself, and speaking with a voice that I had assumed would always remain silent. During my breaks I’d read books to keep my vocabulary fresh, or hone my skills by testing myself with creative writing prompts and challenges. I even petitioned to start writing a local newsletter for a nearby facility for mental illness.
As much as I loved playing with the written word, my hobbies were nothing but fun and games, until I met someone who already had the job I wanted – a job I hadn’t even known existed.
A friend of a friend introduced me to someone who was looking for people to help her with a surfeit of writing work. The pay was alarmingly low – not something you could live on – but I jumped at the chance regardless. For me, it was an opportunity to explore a career that I knew I could really love, and the money was something I’d have to think about later. The moment I began ghostwriting articles for that amazing woman, something ignited inside me, and I knew I had to find a way to do more.
The Journey Into Writing
Armed with only a modicum of experience in the professional writing world, I signed up for accounts on forums and websites across the net, searching for anyone who was willing to give a beginner a chance to show their skills. For a while, I worked sixty or seventy hours a week for much less than minimum wage, churning out articles for varying clients, trying to enhance my knowledge of the content writing world.
Eventually, when I felt I had enough experience to offer truly high-quality work, I started applying to other clients and companies, sending dozens of emails a day and connecting with people anywhere I could find them. From LinkedIn and Facebook, to websites dedicated specifically to finding freelance workers employment, I was willing to try anything.
As time passed, my perseverance paid off, and I found a number of clients and companies that were willing to recognise the quality of work I could provide, and would pay accordingly. Of course, though these clients are now indispensable to me, that doesn’t mean that I don’t continue to network and send emails whenever I can. The truth is that the freelance world is unpredictable. You need to constantly search for work, constantly prove yourself – otherwise, another up-and-coming writer will simply replace you.
A Piece of Advice
One thing I will say to any aspiring freelancers out there, is that no-one will take you seriously until you start believing in what you can do yourself. There are plenty of companies out there willing to take advantage of writers who aren’t sure of their abilities, or who are willing to sell words for any price.
At the same time, the fact that you have your pride doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep an open mind. Don’t reject the opportunity to write a new piece immediately, simply because you don’t have much experience with the topic. The truth is that you actually learn a great deal about new things when you start to write about them. Sure, the topics that you’re unfamiliar with will take up more of your time in terms of research, but the more you learn, the more valuable you’ll be.
When I was serving drinks, I never saw myself as a professional writer. I never considered that such a thing could be possible. Yet now, I’m in a whole new world. I’ve found my calling, and I’m willing to fight for it – tooth and nail. Life as a freelance writer means always learning, always growing, and always searching for new opportunities. If, deep down, you’re already a writer, then there’s no better career out there for you.