5 Things I’ve Learned about Commercial Writing
Indeed, I did reach the wonderful dream stage of commercial writing and admittedly I like it a lot. Yet, it is not quite as blissful as you might think …
For all of you out there who wonder how to monetize that blog of yours, writing for others is a great opportunity. Maybe not as flashy as being a full-time blogger but it is a fantastic work opportunity. While using WordPress may be part of your day to day life, you’d be surprised how many people just cannot get a grasp of it. Picking up WooCommerce on top will be a piece of cake. This enables you to work as a social media assistant or to write for other blogs or web shops, for example. How to make money with your blog Plan B in a way.
Remember, professional bloggers or writers didn’t sit in a dark chamber until success came knocking on their door. Many had full time jobs for many years and slowly made the transition. Learn as much as you can; it doesn’t necessarily have to be on your own site.
You grow with your task
Forget about those time issues, the only thing that really keeps me from growing my own blog is probably fear of public writing. Sometimes I find myself scrolling up and down my blog, singling out every little imperfection, which is not incredibly productive.
When you write product descriptions for example you simply do not have the time to debate with yourself about every single word. In reality, even though these texts go online, people scan over them rather than actually reading. This is really a great cure for perfectionism.
Forget everything you think you’ve learned about blogging
Did you know that most graphic designers are being creative outside of their work? In a way, this can be applied to commercial writing and blogging as well. You do not write for a newspaper or academic publications and it won’t bring you close to that Pulitzer Prize.
You can be all funny and punny in your own time, yet for commercial writing you will have to adhere to corporate style. They don’t like it, you change it. PERIOD. As much as you love those punchy punchlines, it doesn’t always work well with SEO.
Witch leads me right to a major point. Forget everything you think you’ve learned about good writing as well. Many-a times I’ve wondered why people who write for corporate blogs used such horrible grammar… Guess what I did? In my very first blog post for work, I’ve started two sentences with AND and one with BUT. [Shivers.] Here, I’ve said it publicly and I cannot take it back. If you do not like unnecessary fillers, you will have to learn to implement plenty of connection words because SEO just loves it.
The idea is simple. Write for a broad audience, ideally for 12-year olds, and I do believe, Google is underestimating our offspring. Sometimes you simply won’t get around using big words or even … OMG … passive tense. Look at an 8th graders biology book and you’d be surprised.
In the first weeks of commercial writing, I was obsessed with YOAST SEO. Look at it like a cross word puzzle; enter keyword here, change for synonym there, hashtag, alt-text … If you can, finish with a pinteresting picture. It only takes a few weeks to get your head around it.
Afterwards, it’s up to you to decide how much you really want to obey. We all know it feels fantastic to crack that readability riddle, but I allow myself occasionally to make the choice for better style rather than SEO friendly writing. Sometimes, for the heck of writing, not all of it needs to be yoasty green.
Writing is a solitary business
Be careful what you wish for because if you cannot be by yourself all alone for too long, this job is not for you. While you have enormous freedom, you also won’t get paid if you do not work.
Consider yourself lucky if you can generate clients that pay on time, too. Some days the only people I see is delivery guys with packages for the neighbors. Do I sometimes talk to myself? Absolutely.
It is not worth it
Financially, you’re probably better off to get a ‘real’ job or maybe tutor or clean cash in hand. Still, writing for someone else opens many doors. You will be blessed with a cornucopia of writing samples and will literally learn new things with every single post.
We all have to start somewhere. Use this opportunity to grow and make a little money on the way.
More is More
The more you write the easier it really becomes. While this may sound like a la la advice, hear me out on this one. While it is a bit hard to admit, to my surprise, after almost 5 years in Australia my German seemed a bit rusty. I am still baffled by some of the spelling at times or words, that simply do not exist (if you believe my friend Duden). In addition, there’s the curious world of auto-correct. While it can be a real pain in English already, the German version seems to aim at killing your sanity.
It takes a bit of practice, just like learning an instrument but once you’ve mastered that bicycle you won’t forget it for the rest of your life. The more you write, the faster you will become and suddenly you will reach a state where the words just keep flowing.
Once you understand how to write decent copy, it gets a lot easier. Soon you will apply certain principles to commercial writing subconsciously and won’t have to worry about that yoasty green (or start sentences with words that really shouldn’t be there). Remember, good writing also does not mean you need to show off all the words you know in every single article.
If you want to write, write!
What did you learn about (commercial) writing?
Craig Harper: Stop F*cking Around! 30 Principles for a Better Life.
To Write or Not to Write – A Conversation in 30 Quotes
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10 thoughts on “The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Writer”
I love this post! I’ve done my share of commercial writing before, and could really relate with what you’ve written here. Your first point reminds me of Parkinson’s law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” So yeah, perfectionism goes out the window when you’ve got a deadline to beat.
Love this post, too!
I have learned that I can write everything that “links” to their story. In all my commercial writing I keep up with the story they shared at at our first encounter, story which I put into words and in a strategy. Nevertheless, it is easier said than done. But as you say, writing for someone is always great, opens many doors, and many doors of perception. It is said that people buy why we do it and not what we do.
Deadlines might spoil the edifice of carefully calculated strategies and clever wordsmithing, so I plan way ahead in order to avoid the pressure.
Thank you for a very interesting and useful article.
As always, Iulia
‘Sometimes I find myself scrolling up and down my blog, singling out every little imperfection…’ I love this part. Even when there is nothing new coming down the line, there can always be revision, editing, tweaking – excellent work. Thanks, Kitschig!
Hey, great minds think alike …