Blog to support the book "Creatively Self-Employed: How Writers and Artists Deal with Career Ups and Downs" by Kristen Fischer

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Brace yourselves--I'm actually going on a vacation starting Thursday. So I wanted to still offer content for my readers. I've got something good coming!

Here's the first of a two-part guest post series from Peter Bowerman on creating financial wealth in writing careers. Peter is the author of The Well-Fed Writer books--and he's got tons of great advice. Enjoy!

Stalking the Elusive $100,000 Writing Career (Part 1 of 2)

Earn $60-125+ an hour writing for business and make time for your creative writing

By Peter Bowerman

An eight-page corporate image brochure (~22 hours): $2800. Editing of web site copy (~8 hours): $1100. A 12-page marketing brochure for a global materials handling firm (~45 hours): $5000. A tri-fold sales brochure (~9 hours): $1200. Three direct mail postcards for specialized school (~13 hours): $1800. Crafting of short two-line sales “blurbs” for supermarket displays (~47 hours): $5600. A two-page sales flyer (~6 hours): $850. All projects I’ve worked on and all examples of the lucrative – and surprisingly accessible – world of commercial writing.

And let’s not forget the lifestyle: Work at home, rise when you want (no alarm clocks), take off when you want, earn $60-$125+/hour, work in your sweats. Hey, we’re writers. It’s a lifestyle tailor-made for us, right?

For the past few decades – and even more so recently – downsizing and outsourcing have sculpted the corporate American landscape. Companies everywhere are doing more with less. For many, that includes relying heavily on well-paid freelancers to write their marketing brochures, ad copy, newsletters, direct mail campaigns, video scripts, web content, and a ton of other projects. I hear it all the time from clients: how hard it is to find good, smart, reliable writers who “get it.” Might that describe you?

It gets better. Given the times, many companies that formerly hired pricey ad agencies and design firms are shedding them in favor of more economical freelancers (especially talented designer/writer teams), and discovering they get better work at far less cost.

So, what do you need to get your share of this lucrative work?

Writing Ability?

Let’s get real: no one’ll pay you up to $125+ an hour if you’re lousy. But, there are plenty of fields such as healthcare, financial services, manufacturing, high-tech, and beaucoup others, which have steady, ongoing needs for clear, concise copywriting that doesn’t have to be a work of art. Start studying your junk mail, the little newsletter inserts in your electric bill, the rack brochures at your bank. Could you write that? I’m guessing yes.

Marketing Ability?

Sure, first and foremost, this business is a sales and marketing venture. But, fret not. Marketing isn’t some arcane science understood only by Wharton MBA’s. And it’s NOT about being a slick, pushy salesperson. Marketing is simply letting your market know you (or the clients you write for) are out there, consistently, and in a variety of ways that cut through the clutter. And that can be for YOU as a writer or for your clients.

Get a few fundamental sales and marketing principles under your belt – i.e., Audience (understanding who you’re writing to and trying to “reach”); The Features/Benefits equation (focusing on what’s important to readers, NOT talking about your product, service or company); and USP (Unique Selling Proposition; what you/your client does better than anyone else) – and you’ll set yourself apart from most writers. Not to mention being able to talk intelligently – and write for – just about any client.

In the next post, Peter will explain why there’s so much potential work in the “commercial” writing arena, how you can go about landing it, and the first steps you can take now to start positioning yourself for success in this field.

link | posted by Kristen at 11:06 AM |

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Anonymous Peter Bowerman commented at 7:05 PM~  

Thanks Kristen!

The commercial writing field indeed offers some fertile opportunities for freelancers to make a far-better-than-average income working for companies who understand the value of good writing to the success of their business, and are willing to pay handsomely for it.

No, its not a cakewalk (anything that pays rates like these won't be). But, as writing fields go, it's surprisingly accessible field for writers looking to boost their income, and are tired of the pitiful and plummeting rates that have sadly become the norm in many arenas of "freelance writing" (esp. "online content," and most magazines and newspapers).

Check out the discussion at The Well-Fed Writer Blog, especially on the 3/3/10 post entitled "Writing This Bad Highlights a Whole Other Writing World," which contrasts our field with so many other arenas of freelancing.


Thanks again and stay tuned for Part 2 of this post coming soon...


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