Working as a copywriter is not always as glamorous as Mad Men makes out. This is especially true when you’re starting out. Chatting over a whiskey with bigwigs from Coca Cola seems millions of miles away. For the moment you’re snatching after what you can so you can afford some milk and bread. This often means taking jobs which can only be described as awful. They are not necessarily useless though.
My Early Days as a Freelance Copywriter
In my early days as a freelance copywriter, I landed a job writing product descriptions for a furniture site. It involved writing a paragraph summing up a particular section and then three paragraphs on items within that section. Pretty straightforward and pretty simple.
The only problem was that near enough every product I had to write about was a mattress. I had over 300 sections to write. The simplicity of the whole thing was now a problem. I learnt a lot from this job though.
What You Can Learn from Writing Product Descriptions
First of all, it stretched me to the absolute limit of my ability to describe an item that lacks much of a description. I’ve not had to use a thesaurus so much for a job since. Obviously I couldn’t just use the same adjectives over and over again.
While the descriptions didn’t have to be wildly different from each other, they still needed to be unique. I realised quite quickly that when you put your mind to it you can come up with some very creative ways to describe the mundane.
Since then I’ve always be sure to assess my writing as though I’ve been writing about the subject one hundred times before. I look to see if I could do things that little bit differently, in a way somehow more interesting.
I think to myself, “If I can describe 900 mattresses in different ways, I can think of at least one better way of writing this sentence.” Since doing that I’ve managed to give my writing a much more unique and original style.
The job was also a pretty stark wake up call. Previously most of my jobs had been writing articles for a marketing company and I thought it would be much more of the same. There was some freedom in this and it could be interesting. It was when that work got sparse that I had to stretch out to other opportunities.
I Almost Gave Up on Being a Freelance Writer
Writing about mattresses made me acutely aware that I was going to have to do pretty terrible jobs if I wanted to make any money. I was still woefully inexperienced so I had to take the crumbs until I could knock someone off their seat and join the table. This has now happened.
I look back at those days I spent describing springs, comfort and anti-allergy materials and I’m surprised I didn’t give up. I very nearly did at the time. I wasn’t prepared to try and make my way in the world like that, but I carried on and, as my experience grew, my jobs got better and better.
The Worst Freelance Writing Job I Ever Had
I now work full-time for a company doing work I genuinely enjoy and it all came from preserving through a pile of mattresses. It was the worst job I ever had, but it was the one I got most out of it. My writing improved, it made me more grounded and it’s help me to really appreciate where I am now. So, if you’re tempted to take on a hellish job, I’d say do it . . . at least just once.
Share Your Thoughts
What’s the worst freelance writing job you ever had? What did you learn from it? Please share in the comments section below.
DON’T FORGET . . . COMING TOMORROW ON SEOWRITINGJOBS.COM
Regular contributor Chrislyn Pepper starts a new, exciting, four-part series entitled, The SEO Writing Business Challenge For Struggling Writers. It’s designed to help you get — and stay — motivated to make your SEO writing business a success. Here’s an excerpt from Part I.
Week One Directions:
Day 1: You need to choose one niche audience to target. Note the word AUDIENCE. My articles on choosing a niche should have left you with at least 3 niches to use.
Choose the one that has a clearly defined market. Post your name, your audience in the comments below. You can also send me a tweet to @chrislynpepper with these details and “#SEOWritingJobs.com”. I’ll send you tweets with challenge reminders this month.
Chrislyn goes on to give very detailed instructions on what you should be doing every day. And she offers support, so don’t forget to subscribe (if you already haven’t) so you’ll get her posts every Thursday this month, ok?
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