Business Writers: Did You Destroy Your Craft and ‘Sell Out’?

Business Writers: Did You Destroy Your Craft and 'Sell Out'?. Makealivingwriting.com

There are a lot of opinions out there about what freelance writers do. One of the big ones I’ve heard lately is that business writers are selling their soul and writing crap just to fill their bank accounts.

In other words, we’re not ‘real writers’ like novelists. Business writers are just paid copywriting hacks.

Writing for businesses also ruins our writing chops for any ‘meaningful’ personal writing we aspire to, such as poetry, essays, or novel writing.

I used to think like this. For many years, I was a reporter who thought advertising writers were part of the Dark Side of the Force.

By contrast, I was finding facts, revealing truths, enlightening readers with vital news and information they needed. Good stuff!

Then I happened into my first business writing gig, ghosting blog posts for a startup’s CEO, and decided to give it a try. Suddenly, I remembered how my first career as a songwriter went wrong, all because of a similar misconception I had about ‘selling out.’

Here’s what happened…

The 3 roads to writing success

When I was an aspiring singer/songwriter, back in the ’80s, there were basically three ways to pursue this career.

  1. Starve while you live in a garret above a shop and write songs.
  2. Work a day job and play your own songs with your band at night.
  3. ‘Pay your dues’ by playing Top 40 in bars multiple nights each week. Play with your band on the other nights.

I opted for path #2, working as a legal secretary at MGM during the day and practicing and playing my own songs at night.

Playing Top 40 crap all night? Puh-lease! That was definitely not for me.

My songs were brilliant and important compared with that garbage, and I wasn’t going to sully my pure little artiste fingers playing it. I was hot to skip the dues-paying phase and go straight to super-stardom.

What happened?

  • I didn’t get to perform much. Getting a booking wasn’t easy.
  • As a result, I didn’t improve rapidly.
  • I got older — old enough to tire of hanging around smoky bars ’til 2 a.m.
  • I won an essay contest and decided to go into another kind of writing.

Boom! End of rockstar dreams.

How to become a great writer

As the years rolled on, while I loved being a journalist, a little part of me was still sad that I hadn’t become an acclaimed songwriter.

I realized that if I’d been willing to ‘sell out’ and play Top 40 in bars, I would have gotten hundreds of additional hours of performing practice. That no doubt would have improved my performance confidence and my stage presence. My keyboard playing and sense of songwriting craft both would have improved exponentially.

Probably, all that work would have inspired lots of new songs, too. Playing Top 40 is a chance to study what makes a hit song, so those songs might well have been better than my early ones. (See also: Piano Man by Billy Joel, about his days grinding out piano-bar requests. Hmm…that sort of launched his whole career.)

I had refused to sell out. Victory! I was a pure artist. I was also an unsuccessful one.

Building muscles allows for heavy lifting

What had I missed with my ‘I won’t sell out’ attitude?

Just this: Writing improves your writing.

Over time, I learned how many truly great writers (business writers, copywriters, journalists, novelists, and others) had taken writing ‘day jobs’ and come out the better for it.

From Salman Rushdie’s stint writing copy for Ogilvy & Mather (other copywriting alums include Don DeLillo and Joseph Heller), to the time Mark Twain and Ernest Hemingway spent as newspaper reporters, great writers seek out opportunities to write a lot. They write tons, and they learn.

Why business writersΒ learn faster

Clearly, writing copy doesn’t ruin your fiction writing or turn the brains of business writers into mush. It gives you a lot of experience with crafting prose that holds peoples’ attention and moving their emotions in your desired direction.

This is a transferable skill.

Taking on the challenge of meeting a client’s writing needs makes you stretch, and grow. Yes, it’s not your novel — but it can be fascinating, challenging, and fun.

It’s an entirely honorable way to feed your family while you sharpen your writing chops.

Busting the myth of the sellout

Despite all the great examples of writers who earned fame and success for their novels later, the myth persists that doing other, more ‘commercial’ kinds of writing will ruin you for fiction.

I can only shake my head when I see comments like this one, which I recently got on my Facebook page:

Are business writers sellouts? Discussion on Make a Living Writing

I’d bet there are far fewer successful writers with the attitude you see above — who only focus on making themselves happy and won’t ‘sell out’ — then there are successful business writers, copywriters, and freelancers who seize any opportunity to write for a living. (And of course, you can’t help but notice all the grammar errors.)

Every assignment is a chance to flex those writing muscles and learn.

Here’s the thing about being a successful novelist — it’s not usually about expressing your opinion. It’s about serving a reader.

So is copywriting. So is newspaper reporting.

If I had it to do over again, I’d be belting out Heart, Madonna, and Whitney Houston songs, night after night, until I figured out how to win at the songwriting game.

Instead of spinning your wheels, if you feel like you’re getting nowhere with your writing career, try finding a client you can write for. Your payoff won’t just come in dollars, but in improved writing skills.

Are you a business writer? Let’s discuss the ‘sellout’ issue in the comments.

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79 comments on “Business Writers: Did You Destroy Your Craft and ‘Sell Out’?
  1. Dotty says:

    GAH!!! THIS HURTS! Sincerely, one former-aspiring-songwriter to another.

    On the other hand, I spent PLENTY of time as an unpaid worship leader for Churches. (I was in Christian music.) I spent 20+ hours a week sometimes, belting out songs for Jesus–but I wasn’t supposed to get paid for it, because it was “for the Lord.”

    Nope. Done with that.

    But this makes me want to send the Washington Post a LOI, & see if I can get in their freelance pool. <3

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well…that’s still on the publications side, Dotty. You’ll have to go to businesses to qualify as a sellout. πŸ˜‰

      And yes…I’m always impressed with how the Christian opportunities never seem to pay. It fascinates me that Jewish pubs and music pay well, when our audience is so much smaller! I wish I could change attitudes there.

  2. I tried to sell out but I couldn’t find a buyer.

  3. Hi, Carol:

    Thank you for this post! It comes at a timely moment in my own career, where I am looking to build my freelance writing platform and agonizing over how I can make money on a more predictable basis (i.e. business writing) and continue working on my craft and love of novel writing. I have been sincerely fretting over the notion that if I promote myself as a business writer, then I will lose some (all?!)credibility as a creative writer. Thank you for reminding me that I was wrong!

  4. Anne P. says:

    I hid my non-academic writing for years because I knew my academic advisor and colleague would brand me as ‘not serious’ about being an academic. What a shame. It would only have made me a better and more skillful researcher and academic writer.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Thank you very much for the post. After reading it, I feel so strong that I can be a good writer, the tips are so useful and encourage me so well. I will start to write next week.

  6. Nida Sea says:

    I never honestly thought of taking pay for writing as a way of selling out. As you expressed in the post, it only improves your writing, which taking several writing gigs/PT jobs have really helped improve my overall expertise. I learn new things and gain more experience. Plus, it helps with networking.

    With that said, the only thing I won’t sell out is my fictional novels I write. I’m looking to self-publish those, even though it will cost more and take more time, but with other income rolling in, I feel I can take all the time I need with those. Great post, Carol!

    • Carol Tice says:

      What I want to know is — when you write a free guest post or post on a free personal-essay site, is it selling out? To me, that is the BIG sellout — selling yourself SHORT by not expecting any compensation for your hard work.

      How is it more selling out to get PAID for that post? I think it’s not.

      • Nida Sea says:

        Totally agree there. I can’t believe some of the blogs/clients that want free posts. They can’t be bothered to pay for it, why would anyone be bothered to write it? Baffles me!

        • Carol Tice says:

          2 categories of people:
          1) Hobbyists who just think it’s super-exciting to see your byline on the Interwebs!
          2) Consultants who post with the agenda of selling their big-ticket consulting.

          I was just asked this week if ‘article marketing’ was a good idea for freelance writers. It isn’t because you are giving away YOUR core service. For the consultant, it’s a little marketing and he signs a $10,000 or $100,000 consulting contract. It makes sense for him — not for us.

  7. Dave Albaugh says:

    Even Geoffrey Chaucer had seven day jobs, and most of his writing was either commercial or political. He was a spy.

  8. Kaitlin Morrison says:

    Yes! I get this all the time from my writer friends, Carol. They’d rather have day jobs outside writer and work on the next Great American novel than work in writing 24/7. But I’ve always thought it was elitist to look down on people who “do their work for the money.” Yeah, we all have bills to pay, and it doesn’t make you more of an artist to be “above” work.

    Some friends of my inlaws have a daughter my age still living at home with them, volunteering with film-making groups. I think my husband made a comment about how that must be tough to do because you have to have money somehow. At that point, her mom raised her eyebrows and looked at me, saying, “well, you’re a writer, so you must know something about that too.” I sheepishly admitted that I actually never work for free, and make a very decent hourly rate writing for industry. Totally changed the conversation, and I don’t think I’ll get anymore “starving artist” comments from their family again. I’m very quiet about my work and don’t go around bragging about it, but I’ll be honest with people if they ask. πŸ™‚

  9. I couldn’t find an “inform me of additional comments” button on this one. Has anyone else noticed that problem?

  10. Claus Martin says:

    Hello,

    in some sense I am a business writer, because I write many technical reports.
    And I agree with your arguments. If you write a lot, you train your thinking and your writing, because in the end, the readers must understand you and like, what they read.
    And it is not so easy, to write a technical report, in which all arguments for a multi million dollar purchase decision are discussed.
    Of course, that is not a good training, to write poetry, but that is not important for me, because I am a very rationally minded person and prefer, to use facts and write about them.
    But especially at our time, we are overwhelmed with information and many are wrong or fakes and therefore there is a need for writers, whom readers can trust, that they do their best to present only truths in their writings.

  11. Chanoa Tarle says:

    This was a great read! When I was living in Belgrade, I had a fun experience working as a songwriter for a year. I was taking young artists’ Serbian pop songs and not just translating them but improving upon the lyrics for the English versions – a challenge that definitely met my tastes.

    Fast forward a few years later and I noticed how much better and faster I was at copywriting after this experience. I really honed my creation process and I got better at writing based on a specific market of listeners (readers).

  12. Halona Black says:

    I don’t understand why people are worried about “selling out” anyway. Is it not possible to do the thing that gets you paid AND do what makes your heart sing? I get paid to do both. I have a health niche website that I use to sell my books as well as do cooking classes. I also write recipes, articles, and other content for health focused businesses. The stuff I write for others isn’t always the most interesting. And I would love to focus on my own stuff all day everyday. But I like paying my rent, eating good food, and taking month-long vacations to Mexico and other places I have on my list — all while continuing to make money. Being a writer is such a great opportunity. I wish people wouldn’t cut off their opportunities by being so closed minded about for whom they should be writing.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I mean, if you want to starve in a garret, great — your choice. But I’m with you, Halona. I need vacation time — and my kids need a lotta stuff, it seems. πŸ˜‰

  13. Diane Young says:

    No one will pay you for your opinions unless you’re Beyonce,Stephen Hawking
    or an op-ed columnist. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve never written for glory. Back in the day, I wrote so I could say I was a writer, so I could become a better writer, so I could write stuff people would want to read and hopefully BUY–the surest sign of success! As a regular magazine contributor, I love seeing checks appear in my mailbox. But, most of all, I’ve always written because I can’t NOT write.

  14. Kate Mayer says:

    Great article, Carol! When I started writing years ago, I took two classes at Media Alliance. In the first one, a freelance journalist told us she’d had the best year ever. She had published many articles and netted a total of $7,000. The second class I took from a business writer who had written for many companies and earned $140,000. He did not get by lines or public credit for his work, but he earned a living wage. For me it was a no-brainer because I had to pay the rent. To earn a living, I went corporate, and I don’t have regrets. William Carlos Williams had a day job as a pediatrician. Every creative person I know has to make some compromises. I do all sorts of writing and filmmaking and am also in a writing group that helps me focus other creative projects I want to do for myself.

    • Carol Tice says:

      LOL, thanks for adding that William Carlos Williams story! You know, in antiquity, rabbis all had ‘day jobs’ — the great Torah commentator known as the Rashi was also a wine merchant. There’s no shame in hard work!

  15. Kevin says:

    Great article, always important to keep the reader in mind no matter what you’re writing about! I enjoy doing copywriting and writing for other people, I tend to be more critical of my work when it’s for someone else.

  16. At present, I’m doing mostly blog articles for health companies’ websites, which is an enjoyable compromise (for lack of a better word coming to mind) between ad copy and magazine articles. And occasionally, I do get to do a post in the form of “all story” or a poem.

    I would say the #1 advantage of writing for businesses is that you get practice working one-on-one with clients and discussing their needs–something that doesn’t come with the territory if you start with busy publishing-house editors or sell directly to the consumer. Sooner or later, every writer has to learn that s/he isn’t ALWAYS automatically right about what makes for writing the public will find worth reading–either that or forever remain an unknown.

  17. Todd says:

    There probably hasn’t been anything better for me than getting a twice per week gig writing blog posts for a WordPress business company. It gave me deadlines and forced me to come up with topics and write more often.

    It gave me the opportunity to explore different ideas for a blog post, try new techniques, work on various elements of my game and make money at the same time.

    A simple cold email inspired by this site and the Den to the right person at the right time, bingo!

    I wouldn’t trade the experience.

    Same with some of my other experiences that are more journalistic in nature.

    Good advice Carol!
    Todd recently posted…My rant, building websites backwards is dumbMy Profile

    • Carol Tice says:

      So agree Todd — I learned SO much blogging for my Forbes channel. They even had professional development trainings, too! It was an incredible opportunity to learn more about what converts in a headline, that I can apply to my own blog and writing. πŸ˜‰

  18. This blog post was much needed for me. I battle with the idea that I’m a sellout, because my dream is to write fiction. But you’re right, every assignment is an opportunity to learn and improve my craft. I’m happy that I get to have a job where I use my favorite skill and hobby – writing – full time, even if it isn’t the kind of writing I necessarily dream of doing. And, this job allows me a flexible schedule so that I can create the time for creative writing when it best suits me, rather than working around an employer’s schedule. I wouldn’t say we’re selling out, rather, we’re creating a realistic and enjoyable lifestyle for ourselves that helps us reach multiple goals.

  19. I recently read something by this business guru I follow. He said they only way to be really successful is to figure out how you can help someone else. The problem with the idea that the only good writing is the writing you do because it feels good is that it’s primarily selfish. It’s very difficult to make money if you aren’t helping someone, somehow. I’m not saying writers shouldn’t write what they love, but ONLY writing what you love restricts your ability to make money and make a difference.

    At least that’s how I look at it. I love writing for businesses because I feel like I’m offering them something useful and helping them improve their business. I’m not sure how that would ever qualify as selling out…

    • Carol Tice says:

      Exactly, Angela! Every once in a while, a writer comes along where what they want to write for their own pleasure happens to also please a large audience, but it’s a rare thing.

      And you know — when I started in journalism, I always thought how-to service journalism was crap. Then I started helping business owners earn more, writing for Entrepreneur — and discovered I loved it. πŸ˜‰

  20. Evelyn says:

    As a business writer, this post makes my heart sing. I’m going the other direction. I’ve written for business all of my 25+ year career, and am now starting to write essays and creative pieces.

    Saying business writing could hurt your writing craft is like saying playing jazz would diminish the skills of a classical pianist. Exercising the skills of constructing a story line, composing solid sentences and employing precise vocabulary helps all your writing.

    In fact, Steven Pressfield talks about how his stints in advertising and screenwriting helped him become a better non-fiction writer and novelist. His book Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t is one of the best writing advice books I’ve ever read. And I’ve read many.
    Evelyn recently posted…10 Brand Storytelling Lessons from Bruce SpringsteenMy Profile

  21. Inanna LaFevre says:

    Carol,

    THANK YOU – So Much! You just eloquently and absolutely spoke to my core issue – not wanting to “sell out.” My younger self was a fearless, ceaseless social/political activist, working and volunteering for “noble causes.”

    Today as a maturing woman I am facing a serious “reality check” in terms of finances. I signed up for and even started a copywriting course but keep getting frozen by gremlin voices whispering “Sell Out!”

    I realized some time ago that my starving benefits no one and no good cause. Now you just helped me reframe my attitude about business writing. The truth is there are many great companies (even Green and Socially Conscious ones. If I master this type of writing I can have the resources to contribute to the world I want to help create.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Right on, Inanna! As it happens, I started out writing for an alternative paper about community issues. I watched as nearly all my peers moved on to gigs that paid real money. Some of them were cool too — a bunch went into radio, some got gigs on Marketplace! How is that a bad thing?

      I think there are so many ways to express your values in the companies you choose to work with. And at this point, most companies are writing corporate social responsibility reports and have green initiatives. I’ve never written for a company whose business or marketing mode is one that feels sleazy to me.

  22. Tom Bentley says:

    Writing improves your writing, whether you are writing haiku or homepages (or writing haiku for homepages). Storytelling is the currency of content marketing now, and creative expressionβ€”while solving customer problemsβ€”is encouraged, not disdained. I’ve been a copywriter and a fiction writer (and essayist and travel writer) for going on a zillion years now, and have never felt one genre tainted another. Quite the opposite!
    Tom Bentley recently posted…Joel D Canfield: Speak Softly and Carry a Big KeyboardMy Profile

  23. Tracy Hume says:

    Carol, once again you have nailed it. I started out as a journalist. I was in the noble profession (noble and underpaid that is). I believed that to write for businesses, you needed to be willing to sacrifice honesty. I’ve been writing for businesses for several years now, and I know from experience, I was wrong in my earlier beliefs! Four years ago I read a great column by Dave Maney (Economaney), which I clipped out of the newspaper and now have posted on my wall. A couple of things he said really changed my perspective. First, he said, “The essence of a great brand is truth.” The second thing he said, was, “[Branding] strategy is very simple: Find the truth, put it into words, and get it out there.” I think these words apply whether you are writing fiction or nonfiction, and whether you are a journalist, a novelist, or a copywriter. “Selling out” is not part of the equation if you are a truth-seeker, regardless of the type of writing you do.

  24. Evan Jensen says:

    It wasn’t that long ago that my freelancing efforts were mainly focused on journalism gigs writing for newspapers and magazines. I could land gigs, but they were usually one-off assignments, or promised just a couple assignments a year. You can certainly make a living writing this way, but your level of hustle has to be pretty serious.

    Finally had my eyes opened to business writing, ghost blogging, copywriting, and the work (and pay) is a lot more consistent. Have learned a lot about this side of freelancing from the blog and in The Den. Thanks!

  25. Thank you for saying this!

    I am not a fiction writer. I don’t hope to write a book one day. I just really like writing non-fiction pieces. I write for newspapers, websites, and I also help businesses with their content.

    Being a millenial, I understand the importance of content marketing and I like to help companies achieve that. And I really like what I do.

    This does not mean that I am a sell out. Last week I had an 18-year old girl email me (she found me through my online portfolio) and tell me what a sell out I am because I write about such a wide genre of topics.

    Well, I think if I can write about varied topics with such efficiency, I like to believe that it just makes me a good writer πŸ™‚

    • Carol Tice says:

      Exactly, Ritika!

      I think the meaning of the phrase ‘sell out’ has changed a lot over the years. I mean, at one point in the ’60s it meant taking ANY sort of job. I think traditionally publishing your book with a big publisher would probably also have been a sellout! We were supposed to not interact with corporations, not help them, work for them, or consume their products.

      In today’s context, I think it means compromising your creativity in service of earning money — but the thing is, writing for businesses doesn’t have to compromise your creativity. It can be terrifically creative! In a different and possibly more challenging way than writing your own stuff.

      • And, Ritika, you may feel more comfortable with short works. I know I do. While I did publish a non-fiction book a couple years ago, I’m not eager to do it again. You have to either put your paying work on hold to get it done, or work extra hours. Just not there right now. But that doesn’t make me a sell-out.
        Carol J. Alexander recently posted…Five Ways to Write with Kids at HomeMy Profile

  26. The idea that novel writing is the pinnacle of achievement for all writers is like saying participating in tri-athlons is the pinnacle of achievement for all athletes. The golfer may have no interest or desire to prove his athleticism by forcing himself to exceed in three other forms of sport. By the same token, the copywriter may have no interest in proving to the world her worthiness as a writer by attempting to write a novel. And yet, being able to creatively weave words together is just as important no matter what form of writing you undertake. Yes, we all have read crappy blog posts, but we all have read crappy novels, too. Conversely, we all have read compelling ad copy that actually moved us to make a purchase and read novels that moved us to tears. It’s not the type of work that makes a great writer; it’s the person writing the words, and his skill and expertise in moving the reader, that makes one a great writer.
    Carol J. Alexander recently posted…Five Ways to Write with Kids at HomeMy Profile

  27. My second book will be published next month. I’m now spending a lot of time working with the publisher on publicity, speaking gigs, etc. At the same time, I’m trying to get started as a business writer. I just wish I could “sell out” faster! πŸ™‚

  28. I’ve been a writer since I COULD write, but never a “creative writer”. People (teachers, parents, friends) assumed that I’d be good at writing novels because I’m good at writing research papers, but fiction just wasn’t in my wheelhouse. Any attempts were awkward, derivative, total Mary Sue efforts. So I quit trying and focused on my strengths – research-driven non-fiction. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people and produced hundreds of thousands of words about other people’s work and lives. I’m good at it. I enjoy it. But I’ve never been precious about my words – bring on the red pen, that’s how I improve.

    So imagine my surprise when a few months ago I had a plot bunny in my head that just wouldn’t leave. For a fictional story. With dialogue (my nemesis). I sat down and wrote it, then filed it away to look at again away from the heat of the creative moment. I pulled it out again last week, and it’s good. All those hours of working quotes from interviews into articles, of telling other people’s stories, of structuring articles to be compelling and engaging, the whole time it was building those writing muscles to the point that I could write a fictional short story that is good enough that I’m considering publishing it.

    TL;DR: Carol is right. πŸ™‚

  29. I write for a living: copywriting, social media coaching, journalism, and constant emails. I am co-founder of two companies and freelance. It’s remarkably fulfilling; meanwhile I have continued to write fiction. I am actually 60K words into a fantasy novel and I plan a long-term fantasy career. All of which is to say: I firmly agree with you. As long as you are writing ‘things’ that ring true with your inner vision, all writing counts in that 10,000 hours for mastery.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Thanks for sharing your story! And yes, exactly — how are you getting 10,000 writing hours in all on your lonesome, with no deadlines, no clients to please? I think few really put in the effort, and the result is a lot of mediocrity.

  30. I completely agree. Somehow or another, all types of writing is practice, and the more you do, the more you’ll learn. And it can even be enjoyable. Any kind of writing can be brought to a higher level. Some genre writers have written great literary books. Writing for business for pay is one route among many possible routes. If it’s not right for you, fine, but it doesn’t make you any better of a person or a writer. The person who can afford to spend all day focused on the kind of writing they most want to do (whether it be fiction, poetry, memoir or whatever) is someone who is fortunate and/or independently wealthy. I don’t think there is one right route to becoming a writer. As much as I’ve tried to figure out what “the” way to becoming a writer is, I’ve come to realize, after about 40 years of being a writer, we all have to find our own way.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Yes, I think few of us have ‘a room of one’s own’ and investment income to cover our bills, so we can just sit writing novels all day. And even those who do — how many independently wealthy people do you know who ended up famous novelists?

      HUNGER drives good writing. STRUGGLE. And a drive to learn. Business writing offers a chance to struggle with clients’ needs, learn, improve, and possibly, be motivated to do those passion projects on the side so that you become successful in those and able to do them exclusively.

    • Carol Tice says:

      You know, I haven’t noticed that it’s hurt Alice Hoffman that she also writes YA books — hasn’t worked out too badly for a lot of other literary authors, too.

      Writing different types stretches you and develops your skills. How is it MORE of a sellout to write copy than it is to pump gas?

  31. Pete Boyle says:

    Hey Carol,

    You’ve hit the nail on the head with this.

    In my experience, the concept of selling out is bandied around by those unable to grow a business.

    Whenever someone says they don’t want to sell out it’s always followed with some excuse about how unfair the market is and how they won’t make concessions on their art for other people. They always know best.

    And invariably these people are the ones who don’t have two pennies to rub together.

    I think a lot of freelance writers get caught up in the belief that they are, first and foremost, a writer. Which I disagree with.

    You’re not a writer, you’re a business. Writing is simply the deliverable you sell.

    You’re never going to succeed if the focus is consistently on you and your writing. Successful writers focus on their target market and provide them with the value they want.

    Your goal is to create something of value for your clients and their audience. And it’s often going to be outside your preferred style of writing.

    But that’s not a bad thing. As you said, it’s a challenge which forces you to grow.

    You need to operate as a business which means listening to your clients, delivering the value they want, and helping them hit their goals.

    And honestly, it’s the best education you can get with writing.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Agree — but you know, maybe some of those people ARE writers. The kind who starve. But feel noble.

      I’m not here to put that down, because I WAS that writer, as a songwriter. So I completely get it. It’s just that with the benefit of hindsight, I see the pitfalls in only occasionally having a chance to DO your craft, rather than cobbling together a lifestyle where you write day and night, and build your skills. The latter is just more likely to lead to your becoming a terrific writer and seeing success in whatever type of writing you want to do most.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Wish you could talk to a whole lot of writers I know, for whom it’s a brand-new idea that they’re running a business. πŸ˜‰

  32. John Soares says:

    Yes, I’m a business writer and it has paid my bills and funded my retirement accounts for over 20 years.

    Unless you are independently wealthy, you have to make a living. Why not do it as a business writer? If you’re successful,you’ll have plenty of free time to write what you truly want.
    John Soares recently posted…Secrets of Successful Meetings with Freelance Writing ClientsMy Profile

  33. MJ says:

    Carol, you summed it up with one sentence: “It’s about serving a reader.” If I can put a smile on a reader’s face or impart one little bit of knowledge that he or she can walk away with and put to use, then I’ve done a job that makes my day. And yes, I care about money! There, I said it; there was a time when I couldn’t say it.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I know — can we drop the whole starving artiste thing and say — writers have kids who need to go to college, and therapy, and need a house to live in! And need parents at home, where we don’t also have a day job and are gone all the time. Now that I live in Seattle, I’m blown away by how few of my kids’ friends have parents at home after school.

      I feel like I sacrificed a lot, for many years, to rearrange our lives so that someone was home when they got here. Freelancing gives you that opportunity.

  34. Kristen says:

    I wouldn’t say I sold out, but business writing gives you something that you might not get with other types of writing- brutally honest feedback, and the skills to write- and fix, your stuff fast.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Right ON, Kristen. I know SO much more about effective, pithy communication now than I did when I left 12 years of journalism jobs, from writing for my business clients!

      You can certainly do it without being a sellout — to me, you’re only a sellout if you’re writing for a company you think is unethical in the substance of what they do, or in how they market it.