What Can the DIY Punk Ethic Teach Me About Content Creation?

Or, ‘Is That a Typo I See?’

Jake Keane
Oct 24, 2018 · 3 min read

On its surface, the DIY punk ethic might not seem like something which melds well with the world of freelance content creation. It traditionally involves an anti-consumerist outlook and the rejection of established societal structures… Not really the way to go about bagging a big, juicy client.

However, it’s an ideology which I’ve embraced wholeheartedly the past decade or so. I love creating without restrictions; be it in my writing, videography, or other endeavours. Casting aside my notions about how to self-edit, self-analyse, and self-grade my output helped me make things.

I’m not performing at illegal basement gigs, figuring out how to grow my own magic mushrooms, or dumpster diving for my next meal. But, one could argue that platforms such as Medium share a similar nature to the scrappy zines of yesteryear, which eschewed traditional publishing and spread authors’ individual messages.

DIY punk ethic taught me to just do the things I wanted to do. I create my own images, my own book covers, my own rules.

I write the way I like to write.

What did I take from the DIY punk ethic?

  • I didn’t want to network with the people I didn’t want to work with. So I stopped. My whole career I’ve been told that networking is key to client acquisition. Yup, it is. But you don’t have to go to every ‘small-business-shithead-seminar-coffee-cock’ event. Pick your time to shine.
  • I stopped polishing for perfection. I don’t mean I stopped editing and proofreading entirely. I just don’t care as much if a Tweet, or a blog, or whatever has a typo. It really won’t kill me. My work for clients is a different standard to my own output, and the client work speaks for itself.
  • I saved my cash for times when I actually needed it. I’m a freelancer, I know that freelancers need clients, but if I can do it myself then I’m going to do it myself. Sorry-not-sorry.
  • I’m not afraid to tell a client to fuck off. Which I, personally, think is invaluable. Every single weak-willed freelancer who bends over backwards for shitty pay just to please a client is devaluing the entire industry. Know your worth.

Why should you stop caring about other creators?

The moment I stopped caring about how my peers (and to some extent; clients) viewed me was the moment I started enjoying what I do more than I’ve ever done in my entire career.

It felt good distancing myself from the ever-so-wanky crowd of serious copywriters and social media gurus. I was bored of vying for jobs with writers who based their entire personality around how much tea or coffee they drank and how fervently they masturbate themselves to sleep over correct grammar.

In a strange way, the DIY punk nature of my work attracted the type of clients that I actively wanted to work with. Yes, a large percentage of potential customers completely ignored me – be it through disgust and disdain (or a litany or other valid reasons), but the people I wanted to work with liked what they saw.

So yeah. Maybe the DIY punk ethic isn’t really your thing? Maybe you’re an aforementioned CopyWanker?

That’s cool, man. Do your thing.

But whatever you’re doing, however you’re doing it, please just be yourself. Project yourself into your work and show your clients who you are as a person.

You can follow Jake on Twitter here. Or not. Either way.


Jake Keane

Written by

Hire me to write words for you. Don’t get too offended by all this. I just use Medium to vent.

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