Whether you’re just beginning a career as a freelance writer or you’ve been chipping away at it for quite a while, one thing is for sure; you’ll know how hard it can be to get paid for your work. This doesn’t seem fair, does it? It seems as if every other profession pays at least a minimum wage, but if you want to earn a crust from writing quality literature, it seems as if you are bound to struggle. However, I’m here to tell you that your tireless hard work can pay off.
I started my career in journalism without any official journalistic training, just a passion for the written word and an enthusiasm for certain interests, namely music and food. I understood that no one was going to give me a job based on a blank CV and a (hopefully) winning smile, so I decided to start blogging about what interested me. The best tack that I found was to establish a WordPress blog, which is free to set up, but buy the domain name so that it looks more professional; I used my own name, but if you want to brand yourself then you can pick and domain name that pleases you. The fact that the domain name reads “.com” rather than “.wordpress.com” makes it infinitely more professional and attractive to visitors, given the prestige of a private domain and the pejorative connotations that bedroom bloggers have to endure.
I wrote about gigs that I’d been to and restaurants that I ate in and I treated every article as if it were a professionally commissioned piece, proofreading and publicising it on my Facebook page for family and friends to see. I asked for feedback from my more literary acquaintances and eventually honed a style that I was pleased with, extending my writing repertoire to travel pieces and a couple of festival features. It didn’t matter to me that I wasn’t getting paid for it, as I was enjoying the writing and knew that I was building an impressive portfolio. (Also, in these fields, I was able to bag free gig tickets and complimentary meals, so it wasn’t all bad…!) It was around this time that I answered an advert that would totally alter my working, and to some extent my personal, life.
Gumtree is a wonderful source of jobs for freelance writers and I had begun perusing their pages looking for paid work as I felt as though I had sufficient experience to now write professionally; now, getting a paid food or music journalist job is like finding gold dust, so I decided to broaden my vision and consider jobs in other genres. I saw an advert from iPhoneAppCafe requesting articles that reviewed iPhone apps, paying £10 per article. This wasn’t a huge salary by any means, but it involved getting paid to write about something that I enjoyed (who doesn’t love playing iPhone games?!) and it also mentioned the potential to move up within the framework of the company I applied with a review of ‘Streets Of Rage’ (an awesome, awesome game), and the site’s founder agreed to take me on as a regular copywriter. Hoorah!
After a couple of months of writing iPhone reviews, I begun to develop a good working relationship with the site’s founder Ashkan Parsa, and we met up for a drink and a chat about the direction that iPhoneAppCafe was taking. He said that he was looking for someone to take over the management of the site in return for a salary and shares in the company. Result! After all of my years of tirelessly tapping away on a laptop and receiving little-to-no pecuniary remuneration, I was the editor of a website! The first thing that I did was introduce myself to the editorial team and talk about how we were going to take the site forward, which tactics we were going to utilise to bring in more traffic and grow our readership. Over the past year of my editorship the site has gone from strength to strength and we are currently enjoying anywhere between 3,000 and 8,000 page views per day. There has been the occasional trough to balance out the more frequent peaks, however, I’ve enjoyed every day of it and am very excited for the future of iPhoneAppCafe.
The best advice that I can give anyone wanting to pursue a career in writing is that you should write about what you love, and love what you write; if you are passionate about a subject, then you’re always going to be able to write more articulately and with a greater editorial insight. However, don’t be afraid to take the odd plunge and answer a job that you haven’t thought of before…