Smile and Remember: You’re Just a Freelance Article Writer

Freelance writers are a dime a dozen, literally.  People believe that if they have a laptop, they’re a writer.  This is the American Idol Effect.  If you have a set of lungs and vocal cords you are a singer, right?  Anyone can type words and anyone can sing words, but not everyone does it well.  Unfortunately, the glut of “writers” makes many clients feel as if you are not worth more than a Fiverr (or God forbid Freelancer) pays for an article.  Before these two websites, it was much easier to get paid more per article because you weren’t competing with a million other freelance writers.  You could get 4 cents a word because the expectation was that you would produce a well-crafted article to be read.  Today, clients don’t care if the article is ever read.  They just believe it’s still 2008 and an article has to lure customers to their website.

As someone who loves the written word, it is difficult being a ghost writer in competition with people who are only writing because they lost their job or they’re trying to earn beer money while in college.  You know that the time you spend on an article (and a good writer can’t help himself or herself) goes beyond that of someone who is typing an article while tweeting, talking on the cell phone, and eating a cold bagel from the school cafeteria.  Freelance article writing is no longer a profession but a service like providing fries or milk shakes.

Before you tell me how shady and catty I’m being, there is nothing wrong with either of those things.  I worked at Kings Dominion several summers as a teen and college student and was lucky enough to work at Boardwalk Fries where I got to eat the fries that “fell out” of the container.  I would much rather serve hot fries cooked in peanut oil on a summer’s day with the sounds of happy people in the background than write about a really great document management software.  That’s the truth.

What I am saying, however, is that writing used to be an art form.  When you get a degree in writing it is classified as an “art”.  Today’s climate of Pret-a-Porter expectations has led to a belief that writing is no longer a tool of communication between client and customer, but a method of SEO content writing, or writing just to drive traffic and rank a website.

To that I ask, what happens when they get there?

You have less than 4 seconds with today’s web user to capture their attention, and how you do that has everything to do with communication and nothing to do with keywords.

So where is the “smile” part of this blog post coming in?  At a certain point you have to become the Buddha and accept.  You have to accept that not everyone will appreciate the craft of writing, nor appreciate talent in freelance writers.  You have to realize that you’re selling fries and learn to live with that.  Chuck the ego, save the passion for your fiction novel (we’re all writing one), and become one with the system.  If they want SEO content writing, given them SEO content writing and learn to leave out style and beauty so that you can save time and pound out more orders of fries.  You’re now competing with people who know they’re selling fries.  You need to learn to sell fries, dammit!

So smile, remember that there is a fiction novel waiting for you at the end of the day to work on, and just write.

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