Like a whole bunch of people (and probably you, if you’re reading this!) 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 small hiccup in my great plan: I thought I was bad at writing, and I didn’t know how to get better.
I was way too intimidated to try to write fiction, but I’d never been interested in writing non-fiction. So I quietly shelved my goals of seeing my name on a book someday and dreamed smaller, less ambitious dreams.
Then I ran across the concept of copywriting.
What is copywriting?
Have you ever read the product description of a bidet? Did you think, like me, that these spontaneously came into existence?
Guess what: someone actually has to sit down and write those product descriptions. Same with a big, big chunk of the text you come across online.
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. You try to fit it in with the brand’s style.
It’s an exercise in writing to a description. It’s challenging, it’s fun, and it’s rewarding.
Not only financially rewarding 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 to 500-word blurb about a product, service, or experience, I funded most my pub trips.
The math goes like this: 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 had was some free time and a liking for words.
The most important thing though, more than the money, was the idea that someone would pay me to write. At that point, to me, that was the ultimate form of validation for my writing. And it was awesome.
Did that matter?
Even without qualifications, the process was very straightforward. I applied on a website called copify.com by writing a short, 200-word copy example about a vacation spot. A week later, I was approved to write on their site.
I gained access to a list of around 50 briefs submitted by clients. Each had a title, description, and word count. All I had to do was click on one, see if it was something I felt I could write about, and submit my draft.
What kinds of things did I write about?
Personally, I wrote an awful lot of product descriptions for furniture stores. It was easy to hit the minimum word count and the work was fairly repetitive, so I could write similar paragraphs for various products.
However, occasionally I was more in the mood to write a longer, more interesting post. There were lots of options for that — some on health, some on travel, beauty and more.
There were so many options — it was rare I’d go on the site and not find anything to write about. And if I did, that just challenged me to broaden my horizons and write about something new.
Copywriting is for everyone. Copify.com isn’t the only site. There are lots of copywriting sites looking for writers to spend a little bit of their free time in exchange for quality copy, which is easy to produce. It’s lucrative, flexible, and best of all, quite fun.
If you’re like me and thought you could never earn money for writing, this is a perfect place to dip your toe into the writing world and find out how much you’re worth. You’ll learn all the skills you need for writing — cutting out the fluff, working to a deadline, writing about a broad range of topics outside your comfort zone — and you can get paid to do it. Give it a try.