I have always wanted to be a paid author, even since I was six and read my first work of fiction (The Magic Treehouse). But there was one catch: I thought I was bad at writing, and I didn’t know how to get better.
It was intimidating to write fiction, but I’d never been interested in non-fiction. So I quietly shelved my dreams of seeing my name on a book someday, and dreamed smaller, less ambitious dreams.
Then someone introduced me to copywriting.
What is copywriting?
Copywriting means someone provides you with a brief — maybe a blog post, an ad, a product description — and you write it for them. You try to make it engaging, descriptive, filled with keywords so it will rank well on Google.
But to me, copywriting was a way to gain validation that I was good at writing. It was my first paid writing gig, before I’d ever blogged or heard about Medium.
By spending maybe ten minutes a week writing a little 200–500 word blurb about a product, service, or experience, I funded most my pub trips.
I got paid around 1.5 pennies per word, I could write about 100 words per minute, and I usually researched the topic for about five minutes beforehand. If you do the math, this works out to around £7.50 every ten minutes, or £45/hour.
I was a Masters student at the time, so the ability to work at a flexible rate for that kind of pay was tremendous for me. It wasn’t that much but it meant I could treat myself a bit more often than I would otherwise.
And it taught me how to write to a deadline, how to write about anything (including, but not limited to, descriptions of toilets) and how to write well and quickly.
Was I qualified?
No. I was doing a Masters in bird conservation, so I had no history of writing copy, nor did I have any qualifications for writing. All I…