In our line of work you rarely get an opportunity to showcase your writing and take the credit for it. Unless you clinch a deal as an in-house writer, get content published on a blog aggregator like Huff Post, or write and promote your own blog, opportunities to flex your authorial muscles are few and far between.
Rarer still is the opportunity to showcase your talent, take credit for it and get paid.
Stori would be nothing without its team of freelancers. Some have worked with me for a long time, others are relative newbies. But they all have something in common: they write damn well and they care about what they write. Anyone can write, but few people are writers – you’ll hear me say this all the time.
My guys? They are writers. I know because I’ve selected them personally, tested and developed them. I keep in touch with them all and I’d like to think we have a great working relationship – friendship in some cases.
There are a few things you learn fast when you start out on the road to becoming a content writer:
- everyone is doing it;
- most are doing it badly;
- a few do it really well;
- most clients don’t care as long as its cheap.
Freelance websites like People Per Hour and Upwork don’t help. The pile it high sell it cheap mentality of these ‘marketplaces’ meant I was writing for about £1 per 300 words when I started out, all because I needed the writer’s holy grail – the portfolio (without it, you are nothing!). Thankfully those soul-destroying days in the content farm are long gone but I promised myself that if I could save a few optimistic, like-minded and talented writers from going through it too, I would.
Most of them have day jobs, mostly content related – teaching, marketing, communications – and they choose to freelance to for various reasons: for extra money, to hone their skills, to learn more about the industry, to gain recognition. And while the first three are easy for me to provide, the fourth is harder to deliver.
Why? Well, a lot of what we do involves ghostwriting – the process of producing content that someone else claims as their own. It’s normal and is a mainstay of the copywriting industry but it’s really frustrating to see your hard-written words being published under someone else’s name.
Over the past few months we’ve been really lucky to work with Carly Roberts, the editor of YES Magazine North Wales. Like me, Carly is a professional mum, juggling work and family commitments; like me she’s ambitious, personable and has great passion for the area we live in.
YES Mag is a business directory with a difference – the focus is on providing useful information (in the form of ads) balanced with high-quality content (in the form of articles) – something that’s sadly lacking in a lot of, otherwise good, business directories.
Working with Carly has given me an opportunity to ‘give back’ to my fantastic team. As contributors for YES Mag they have been published in their own right – some have never been published. What a feeling!
I remember the first time I was published. Okay, it wasn’t a best-selling novel (I’m working on it) but it was a glossy, well-respected, in-print and digital publication – much like YES Mag.
Not only do you get a feeling of immense pride and satisfaction but you also get a much-needed boost to your portfolio, an essential part of any writer’s CV. As a content writer it’s hard, even impossible, to evidence your experience armed with just a raft of ghostwritten materials (however good they are).
It’s tricky. The client must give permission for you to use the material, and many won’t because they don’t want to be exposed for not writing their own content. Top tip – for those who do give permission, legitimise it with a short reference and contact details.
If you’re a writer just starting out and looking for ways to build your portfolio, consider contributing to publications like YES Mag. In most cases, the work will be unpaid, but it’s a great way of growing your reputation and the pay-off down the line is priceless.
So thanks Carly for giving my team a break and thanks team for being brilliant and always stepping up.
If you’re interested in advertising or contributing to YES Mag you can contact Carly here.