Words are words
Dr. Laura Card, an English professor at Brigham Young University and an award-winning fiction author, once said, “Writing is writing is writing“—meaning, all writing, at some stage, is the same. Words are words and when they’re put together in different ways a story is born. When you chose to become a writer, you probably didn’t dream of writing 40-word product descriptions or editing press releases to sound less literary. Or maybe that was your dream, which makes me wonder if you truly aspire to be bored and poor forever?
Paying the bills
As a food writer, I’ve been privileged enough to find plenty of work in my niche. But not all of this is as glamorous as it sounds. While I love writing features, reviews, and articles, in addition to visiting restaurants and describing dishes, this fun and satisfying work doesn’t totally pay the bills. Though I’m hoping to work up to a point where one day it will (hi there, New York Times ), there is also plenty of side work to take on.
Building my skillset
Because I’m always interested in building my skillset and gaining more practice, I’ve been taking on corporate writing jobs in addition to my work that gets featured in a publication. Writing for a company has various stipulations: maybe they’re just using you to boost their SEO—a company’s blog can lead to a lot of Google search results—or maybe the people behind the company can’t form a cohesive sentence and need you to write for them.
Corporations have money
Regardless, the work may not be creatively stimulating, but in 2013, corporations have money, publications don’t. You write for a corporation to make them more money, bottom line. Publications are all about entertainment and information, good content leads to good ad sales, but you’re not writing to sell the magazine’s product or service.
CEOs are not editors
At a corporation, the person to whom you’re submitting your work is most likely not an editor. She’s a community manager or a supervisor or perhaps even the CEO of the start-up, so rather than asking for more detailed language or a re-write of a transitional sentence, she’s going to read your piece as a potential customer, and a person who has invested in you to boost sales. Your copy needs to be clean, their job isn’t to correct typos or fact-check; being this cautious and detail-oriented can help for publication writing as well.
Plenty of opportunities
If you look at the world around you, everything is written. There are always opportunities to use words to improve anything around you. Suggest to write your local coffee-shop’s blog (they don’t have one?—they should start, everyone’s doing it!). Or ask your friends at traditional companies if they need any more copywriters.
My corporate writing skills
My corporate writing is mostly for food brands, food stores, and restaurants, and I usually negotiate for a byline as well. By finding corporate writing in my niche (even if I’m not credited for accomplishing it), I’m learning the back end of businesses, expanding different ways I used vocabulary or paragraphs to communicate, which eventually contributes to the way I write for my editors.
Writers are artists and corporations are evil, but there are so many great ways to collaborate and help each other out, there’s really no reason not to.
About the author:
While being New York’s most fabulous resident consumes most of her time, Melissa Kravitz enjoys excessive amounts of reading, crafting, shopping, cooking five meals a day, and befriending cute puppies. Melissa considers herself NYC’s ultimate pasta expert. After working for Inside New York for four years, Melissa moved on to start her own culture and lifestyle website, NeuralPop (www.neuralpop.com). Her personal blog has been nominated as Best Blog of the Year since 2007 (by her dad). It wins every year. You can probably find her in Williamsburg, looking beautiful, sipping iced coffee, and working on her novel.