What’s wrong with writing these days?
The freelance economy. I suffered through years of freelance. Gypped at less than a cent per word, hounded down clients to be paid on time, and watched as companies wasted precious content marketing money.
It’s been an interesting ride.
Could words that were once worth a cent ever transform into entire dollars?
Give me a dollar… I have spoken — it’s the kind of power every writer hopes to wield with a flick of the wrist (I use a laptop).
Behold the power of words that sell!
Smart people buy good writing. They pay you well for it, and get the goods (quality goods) in return. That’s when you know you’ve maxed out your freelance writing. To get there is a rough and winding road full of potholes, misleading signage, paths that go nowhere, near-starvation, possible exploitation, and a naive sense of steadfast dedication to the task at hand.
Only a fool would choose this path.
Now, who wants to freelance?
You might wonder why someone would put themselves through the freelance phase of life. But the best artists often start from the bottom and work their way up, no matter how great they may be in the beginning. Since when did education actually translate into real life experience?
Intelligence doesn’t necessarily help you make more money or succeed at a profession.
Experience is your best friend when it comes to advancing your position, and working with companies who were totally “doing it wrong” opened my eyes to the best ways to do content curation right. Both the good and bad experiences will guide you to places you never thought possible in your career.
But for me, the bad experiences have always offered the most valuable insight when it comes to what really works in my profession.
Calling all good writers and editors, please save us!
Crap is in trend. Everyone wants to read crap.
“So we see here that you took the time to develop a story and told it in your own original way,” they said.
“There’s really nothing like it,” they said.
Yes, at this point you’re certain you’ve hit the mark.
You took this assignment seriously…
…it took like 8 hours to write…
…they freaking love what you wrote right?
“But that’s the very reason why we decided to go in a different direction. Easier to read and more generalized like the rest of the crap we’ve been producing. We took the liberty of butchering this entire piece ourselves, so…. no need for your assistance with the rewrites. Also, we put your name on it, and thousands of people are going to see this crap.”
Yes, that’s what I’ve always wanted.
To you, it’s a monstrosity with frankensteined parts.
You shriek, “AH! Nothing’s showing — it’s all telling!”
Not everything that’s published these days is crap. Yet, repeating what’s “popular” does not exclude you from crap-tastic writing. Great writers and editors are like a breath of fresh air. When you finally work with one, it feels like the whole universe and all the stars in the sky have aligned.
Working with an editor whose only mode is “destroy”.
Some editors are catastrophic.
They really hate good writing. It makes them uncomfortable. You start to notice that the way in which a bad editor responds to your writing is in direct correlation with how much the outcome and clients’ reaction affects them upon examination of the final product. If there is a lot of distance between the editor and client, things could get ugly.
You get nervous and hyperventilate when you spot them, only a sentence in, pulling out the butcher knife and beginning to sharpen the blade.
Oh, the freaking agony.
Good writing = a threat.
Do some people feel threatened by good writing? Seriously, I often wonder if it’s just human nature. It’s like the story in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, when the sheltered cave people are threatened after a fresh new perspective arrives on the scene.
“I’ve come bearing news from the outside world!”
But, they would rather destroy the novelty than learn something new.
“Different is not welcome here.”
Bad writers and editors can be found at content mills or companies where everyone is paid not nearly (not even close to) enough. They enjoy employing editors at the lowest price possible. So they hire just about anyone who claims to be an editor for freelance assignments.
Enter the writer.
The content mill has a special assignment in need of a special kind of writer. They find a freelance writer who’s got a good mix of talent and experience. They write the piece, applying actual expertise from past successes, then submit it.
Now, the last one to see it is…. the editor.
It will never be same again. It turns out like a terrifying nightmare, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You hear the laugh track play in the background, reminding you of a bad sitcom. The client never even saw the original to make a comparison. They just think you suck at writing. In fact, they may also think that “crap” is the only sort of thing in which you write.
From my experience, most writers don’t like to see others write well — it’s like a stab at their ego. “Look at that gorgeous piece… what an asshole,” or similar statements often cross a writer’s mind. They recognize it for what it is, then bury it in the backyard (unless the writer is already dead, in which case, they’re awesome — a source of inspiration!).
Just don’t make me look at it again, until I’m ready.
On the other hand, when the editor or person who will approve the final work just happens to be the actual client or works directly for the client, the tables turn. The uniqueness of the piece becomes the reason they come back to you, and the assignments multiply.
They give you bonuses!
Everyone is one big happy family who keeps the butcher knives in the kitchen.
Have you ever waited +2 months for pay?
In the case of the average human being, this usually pisses them off.
Why would you ever want to anger your writers?
Don’t you know creative people work best when they’re happy?
Unless the writer is an exception such as the tragic poet Poe, happiness is important. Who knows — had Edgar Allen Poe been happy and well-paid, he might have reached fame before his own death. Many “creatives” work best when they feel rewarded by success.
Morale is a key factor with success in creative roles. It pays to unleash the passion.
The fasted way to lose your content writing investment?
Hire robots. Get impersonal.
Take a good look at your digital marketing or content marketing agency, and ask:
Are they working in a robotic manner?
Have they mastered a robotic system in which they assign writing tasks to robots (numbers, not people) whom they’ve never communicated with (in person) and also have no clue about the subject in which they’re being assigned and supposed to write?
Do they hardwire your business’ attempts at content writing for their own profits, failing to pay these “robots” a decent wage and setting the final product up for failure?
If you answered, “yes” to any one of these questions, give them all your money.
Go all in! This is just like Texas Hold ’em, and you love to gamble with such a HUGE investment, right? Watch it disappear, and get nothing back. It feels good to get nothing out of this experience like a slap in the face while some company ‘Houdinis’ your startup money. It could even be the demise of your business.
With zero dollars in your pocket and nothing to show for it, you’ll walk away glad you went with the “content mill” or faceless agency for content writing.
It’s a day worth celebrating.
What’s wrong with writing these days? Most of the writing you read online is the product of parroted, passive, and generalized freelance writing.
Join the Digital Renaissance. Let’s revitalize the online realm.
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