Why Being a Sellout Will Help You Write What You Love

Are you fed up with having to write about stuff you don’t care about in order to pay the bills?

We had a big chat about this going on recently in Freelance Writers Den.

One member wrote that he was sick of having to write copy to pay the bills:

“I discovered the business-style, droll prose I’d been doing killed my creative writing ability. The work I’d been doing for pharmaceutical companies turned my writing into a pile of crap, and I don’t like that – writing is a passion first, job second. I write to create something beautiful, not to meet a client’s needs. I’m a novelist before I am a copywriter.

So it disillusioned me. I don’t really want to freelance in that same way any longer – the cold-calling, the endless queries…it’s all discouraging when I see no results.

I want to write WHAT I WANT and be paid for it.

I want to write creative, inspiring travel pieces and earn a living, not write boring pieces detailing the newest development in the world of pharmaceuticals.

It’s sometimes just too discouraging to keep going, and I’ve hit a low point.”

So. Here it is.

The old “writing purely for the joy of it” vs. “sell out to pay the bills” debate.

My opinion on this has changed over the years. Here’s the story of when I wouldn’t sell out…and then why I did.

Also how it helped me get to the place I’m at in my writing career now, where the vast majority of my writing is on topics I love.

And why you should sell out, too.

My teenage quest to avoid selling out

Back when I was a teenage songwriter, I sneered at sellouts — hack musicians and songwriters who were playing Top 40 on cruise ships or in divey bars five nights a week to pay the bills.

I wasn’t going to do that. It would drain my creative juices, playing that crap all the time.

I would stay true to my vision of what I wanted to express with my songs, and only play my own music.

To pay the bills, I was a legal secretary. I saw this as a good arrangement that would keep my songwriting “pure.”

But it wasn’t. It sucked.

My typing speed improved, and I learned a lot about lawsuit filings. I didn’t have a lot of opportunity to improve my composition, singing, or keyboard skills.

What with the day job, I didn’t have much time to arrange gigs, so it was hard to line up very many. We didn’t get to practice or play all that much.

No surprise that I didn’t improve very rapidly, or gain a big following.

Next thing I knew I was pushing 30, and my singing career had gone nowhere.

Fortunately, around this time I discovered the type of writing they pay you good money for…nonfiction articles.

Round two: I try selling out

This time around, I had a whole ‘nother attitude.

I was a bold-faced sellout from the start.

I would write anything that anybody would pay me to scribble.

Now, I got it: The most important thing was for me to practice writing. So I looked for chances to write a lot.

Among my hot gigs were five glamorous years writing about nothing but home improvement retailers — lumber yards and hardware stores.

I’ve blogged about surety bonds.

Covered town hall meetings about zoning laws.

Obviously, this was not what I dreamed about when I was scribbling song lyrics in my room as a kid.

I wanted to write stuff that moved people. I wanted my words to make a difference.

But first and foremost, I wanted to not have a boss and to be able to keep my own hours and still pay my bills.

I figured if I took care of that first and my whole job was writing, it would allow me to practice and get better. In the end, I thought, that would help cut me the time I needed to develop the chops to write the topics I wanted.

When the chance came around to write big, important stuff, I’d be ready.

The secret to becoming a successful sellout

How have I tolerated all of the weirdo dork stuff I’ve had to write to pay my bills over the years?

Here’s my secret: I fell in love with the challenge of writing for clients.

Some of this stuff was really hard to pull off! When I did it, I felt a real sense of accomplishment.

When you can come up with three or four story ideas all about lumberyards each and every week and get those written up so that people want to read them, you build a lot of confidence in your writing skills. I can testify.

I didn’t have to love the subject, though I had to have some level of curiosity and interest in it.

I think the mistake the writer above is making is he’s got his sell-out writing in an area where he’s lost the curiosity and love of challenge.

Then, you start to feel this pay-the-bills writing is dragging you down.

Since this writer likes travel topics, maybe writing copy for a cruise-ship company, state tourism alliance, or travel agency would suit him better.

Another secret no one tells you about selling out

As a freelance writer, I also stumbled onto a discovery: Almost nobody out there is writing just what they love.

To pay the bills, we all have bread-and-butter clients — gigs we take mostly to make money.

I first learned about this when I asked a fellow Seattle Times freelancer who else she wrote for.

“Oh, Ford Motor,” she replied.

I’ve since learned that some of the great novelists had writing day jobs. Mark Twain was a longtime newspaper reporter, and Salman Rushdie wrote copy for Ogilvie & Mather, for just two quick examples.

Did it ruin their creativity? Kill their chances for greatness? Hardly.

Writing a lot, and tackling many writing challenges for clients, made them better writers and helped them be successful writing what they really wanted.

I think it works that way more often than it happens that someone who isn’t writing regularly comes out of the blue and writes a hit novel.

Writing for clients builds your sensibility as a writer. You learn how to write for an audience, and to choose your words so you speak to that audience’s hopes and fears. That’s going to come in handy later.

The reality of freelancing

When you start out, you’re not going to get to write what you want as much. Or at least not for pay.

It takes a while to get to that point.

The question you have to ask yourself is this: “Would I rather pump gas, work as a bar back, or a secretary…or do this writing gig?”

As long as the answer is write, you should be a freelancer.

If the answer is pump gas, maybe you want to go live in a garret and be a starving artist working on your novel.

Otherwise, I recommend learning to write for businesses. They pay better than publications.

Every high-earning freelance writer I know does at least some business writing.

The trick is to find the great-paying business clients. That way you make enough fast enough that you have time to work on your personal-passion writing projects.

Then when you get a chance to write a book, or create a blog that helps people, or whatever your writing passion is, you’ll be ready to deliver the goods. It’ll all come together.

Or that’s how it worked for me.

Whatever you do, remember to sell out for good money. If you do this right, you’ll be highly paid to hone your craft for when your dream project comes along.

 

  1. Thanks for this post Carol! I have had this debate internally as well and come to the same conclusion, albeit with less success than you’ve had (so far!). Aspiring writers can learn a lot from the biographies of other writers. One fact that will jump off the page when you read enough of these writers’ stories is that almost all of them had a ‘day job’ and still found time for the writing they were passionate about. (Three that come quickly to mind are Benjamin Franklin, Elmore Leonard, and Dr. Suess.) If you truly have a passion for writing then NO job or so-called sellout writing can take that away from you. In my case it only makes me more focused on my end goal.

  2. Thomas says:

    I don’t know, I’m not sure what the quandary is here. If you’re getting paid-that’s PAID to write-rejoice.

    If we don’t like the subject matter[s] we’re getting paid to write, okay, but then why can’t we write what we do love simultaneously?

    That way we still get paid to write the stuff we don’t like, and we also get to write about or what we love, and eventually we may turn that into a paying endeavor.

    Always be Writing! Regardless of what it amounts to: Always be Writing. That way we continue to master our craft.

    Cheers,

    Thomas
    Thomas recently posted..Another Hiatus Update: Hey, you were warned

    • Carol Tice says:

      Well that’s how I feel — so many writers can’t even figure out how to find a decent-paying gig. But as you can tell from this writer’s POV (and I think they’re not alone), many chafe at having to just take a bill-paying writing gig if it doesn’t hit their personal passion topics.

      I feel lucky to have a wide variety of interests…I find almost anything interesting enough to look into and write on. Except technology. Especially apps. PR people are always putting “app” in the subject line of an email to me, and I delete without reading. Just not a very tech-savvy person, so I stay away from it. Everything else is fair game in my view!

  3. Chris says:

    This is great advice. Writing for clients should be regarded as a fun challenge and a chance to hone your writing skills. It does help when you write about a topic you have some interest or passion in writing about. As a travel writer, I often write copy for hotel chains and airlines….some of it very interesting stuff about destinations and other not-so-interesting stuff about amenities but I have a lot of freedom and flexibility and can pay my bills.
    Chris recently posted..Venice Part III: Floating among Palazzos

    • Carol Tice says:

      Sounds like you have a great balance of clients there, Chris. And I’m with you — after 12 years as a staff writer, maybe I particularly appreciate not having to file 3-4 stories every week, and having charge of my own time.

  4. Steve says:

    Hi, Carol!

    What a timely article for moi!

    Personally, my latest struggle has been with finding a niche for my copywriting. After 26+ years in a particular industry, I really didn’t want to write about it at first. Frankly, I was getting bored with the area.

    However, after reading your article, I find myself realizing that this particular industry might be a good place to start nicheing (is that a word?) because the topics could be easier to write. I can seek other niches after establishing a presence in this one.

    Thanks again,
    Seve
    Steve recently posted..What Your Writer Needs to Know

    • Carol Tice says:

      You totally get it, Steve!

      I get writers all the time who have been working in, say, banking. Or healthcare, or technology. But what they WANT to write about is parenting or pets or gardening or something.

      Instead of just taking the low-hanging fruit of easy, good-paying jobs in the industry where they can claim inside knowledge, they get frustrated trying to nail their passion first. It’s so much easier to get some clients where you have knowledge, and then bridge over into new topics from there.

  5. Liz says:

    When I started out as a freelance writer, I wrote about dry as toast topics that didn’t do a thing for my creative satisfaction; but it filled my purse nicely. I also got to hone my craft and be disciplined. I could wax lyrical in my own time, but when I wrote for money I was the genie with all the power in the world but constrained by my client’s topics and specifications. Thanks for sharing your experience, Carol. It’s really inspiring.
    Liz recently posted..How to Meet Deadlines in Your Freelance Writing Career

  6. I’m in the Jeff Goins/Chris Brogan camp who think that having to write copy for “boring … pharmaceuticals” etc. actually makes your writing much more direct and compelling.
    Damien Elsing recently posted..How to Write a Case Study That Wins Hearts and Minds

  7. Neil says:

    Carol, great message!

    When I got into freelance work, I thought for sure I was going to hit the mark with my passion. reality set-in quickly and helped ground me to the fact that writing has to be about “paying your dues”. I see the light in a different focus, and boy is it brighter.

    I struggle with finding the writing work, but I have found some and I know it can only improve as I stay faithful doing it.

    Thanks again.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I hate that phrase, paying your dues.

      One of the things I like about writing is that it doesn’t necessarily proceed like most careers — you can go from writing for a small startup straight to a $1 billion global company, if your writing sells you to better clients (I did). There isn’t the usual requirement that you slog along writing for low pay for ages. There are people who sold their first article to a major national magazine, as well.

      But you’re right that often it’s hard to just presto! start getting big money for your favorite topic. Some topics may never be well-paying. Writing fiction will always be a moonshot try. But if you’re writing all the time, I think you put better booster rockets on that moonshot attempt.

  8. Charley says:

    Great advice, Carol. I can sense the frustration of the Den member, but I’ve traveled the “other” route you’ve mentioned. I had every intention of being a great American novelist, but life, bills, and six great kids got in the way. I’ve spent a lifetime becoming a machinist, a quality inspector, and an electrician–all after graduating with a degree in English (including an undergraduate semester in the famous Iowa Writers Workshop). The bottom line is this: would you rather spend time working where you don’t want to work, in order to write what you want when you can, or spend time writing what you don’t want to write, in order to write what you want when you can? At least, if you choose the writing route, you are still practicing your craft. In either case, however, you STILL have to MAKE time for your PASSION.

  9. Julia says:

    Love this post Carol! I’ve been dealing with a bit of that over the last year, as I had the day job to pay the bills and I freelanced on the side. But I realized I needed to be back into full time writing, whatever that looked like. So this summer I took the plunge into a contract writing job, that while not ‘exactly’ where I want to be, is a significant step closer.

    It is a hard thing to deal with, writing to get paid, or writing to fuel the creative spirit. I’ve used your idea of the writing challenge to fuel me for a while now, and it’s helped a great deal. As you said, in the end, if you want to be a paid freelance writer, then you need to write. :-D

    Thanks!
    Julia recently posted..13 Tweetable Twitter Tips for Software Marketers

  10. Marisa says:

    I’ve read a lot of motivational books and blogs (like this one) about unlocking your creative potential and getting to that place you dream about and one thing remains true: They all say that at some point you have your passion projects and the projects you get to pay the bills. This is true for EVERYONE, even movie stars. I just read a quote from John Malkovich who said that he makes his living acting, he loses it producing.

    I agree with Carol about trying to move into the travel industry in a higher paid bracket, like copywriting for travel agencies. Also, there are SO many travel magazines out there. I edit for a quarterly travel/lifestyle magazine in the Caribbean, and some of our writers pitch stories to us based on being invited, gratis, on press tours for resorts and hotels. My point is — travel writing can pay well, and provide free vacations and travel, but like anything, it takes time little by little.

    I work as an editor and a writer in the culture/lifestyle/fashion/beauty field. It certainly doesn’t pay what, say, being a financial writer might. And though I have a degree in economics, my passion subjects are what I write about. My main client right now while I finish my portfolio site is an Australian online cosmetics retailer. Beauty + Copywriting. I like it, but don’t LOVE it. And figure liking it is a lot better than what I used to do: edit court cases for Reuters as a very low paid editorial assistant. Not to mention, like Carol said, I have time to hone my skills, work on building my business, like I never would have been able to working a salaried, full time job.

    Finally, sometimes what you love to do, or getting there takes sacrifices. Bottom line. I left the very expensive New York City and moved back to MI, to build my business in a quiet environment that was more affordable. But it was so worth it b/c now my resume is bursting with great clips that will give me a choice of where I move next.

    • Carol Tice says:

      I love your story Marisa. I think that’s a typical trajectory…we find what pays well, and then gradually move our career in the direction we want it as we figure out where the good pay is in our passion topics. For some that transition goes faster, some slower.

      I also love the move you made to cut your expenses. I think not enough writers look at that side of the equation and how they could free up writing time and take fewer clients if they lowered their nut.

  11. Kathy Kramer says:

    I find that I have to have both types of writing in my writing life and that if I don’t, I get bored. I also think that having both types makes you a better writer, period. Creative writing makes you a better copywriter and vice versa. That’s why on my writer’s site blog, I cover both types of writing.
    Kathy Kramer recently posted..Five Writing Websites Writers of Every Stripe Should Bookmark

  12. Mark Sherbin says:

    Both sides of this argument are legit. I try to sit down to write creatively at the end of the day and find that my juices are zapped.

    But I’ve also found one of the biggest positives: writing professionally has helped me understand how to really structure my creative writing. I used to think that if you adhered to form in fiction, you were limiting yourself. Boy, was I wrong.

    When you’re making your own schedule, you can always schedule a full day for creative endeavors. The best advice I have for those struggling mentally to balance both is to read a hell of a lot. I find lively fiction helps break me out of the business mindset.
    Mark Sherbin recently posted..The Hopeless Irony Behind This Tragedy

  13. Janey Goude says:

    Interesting perspective.
    Has me wondering: From a standpoint of “selling out”, is there really a difference between working a day job that isn’t your passion and writing copy that isn’t your passion?
    Janey Goude recently posted..PT Aide/Tech Certificate Program

  14. Lou Wasser says:

    Hi Carol:

    What a valuable and inspiring post you’ve offered today!

    Good point about Mark Twain and Salman Rushdie. The list of literary luminaries who did copywriting to bring home the bacon is actually longer than most writers would imagine. For starters, try: Sherwood Anderson, Kurt Vonnegut (in-house writer for GE), Joseph Heller, Amy Tan (had her own freelance business before striking gold with her first novel), William Gaddis (did speechwriting), Don Delillo, and the incomparable Joan Didion, to name just a few. Didion, in fact, attributes some of her inimitable tense and concise style to her job having to come up with pithy photograph captions for Vogue Magazine.

    And need we add the list of otherwise “literary” writers who reluctantly made filthy lucre in Hollywood?

    http://highbrowmagazine.com/1469-why-faulkner-fitzgerald-and-other-literary-luminaries-hated-hollywood

    We do what we have to, and refine our skills along the way.

    Thanks again for a useful posting this morning.

    All the best,

    Lou Wasser

  15. Viki says:

    Being a freelancer writer is something like selling out yourself as well, although it doesn’t affect as directly as in the other case. A great and interesting article, I really like your point of view how you tell the pros and cons about selling out.
    Viki recently posted..Miért drágább a nők számára az élet?

  16. Terr says:

    I was JUST thinking about this yesterday. I inspired myself, by thinking of those who pay the bills outside of their passion projects. As Marisa mentioned, there are actors who do other things, in order to pay the bills. Carrie Fisher comes to mind. As many now know, she’s a very accomplished ghostwriter, and she’s published books under her name as well. Why does she do this? Because she needs to maintain her lifestyle! She has name recognition and writing talents. Therefore, she writes.

    Barry Manilow in his early career paid the bills by writing and singing jingles for commercials. Many of the most legendary jingles and slogans that we STILL use 40 years later were written by Barry. As a matter of fact, thanks to his jingles work, he never really has to work again! Mind you, we’re not even talking about his song publishing catalog, his music production work, or his live performance work!

    The fact is, anyone who has a career in the arts WILL need to diversify. I think it’s a beautiful thing for artists who are multi-talented, or who are great business people. In today’s economy, even the most celebrated entertainers and artists MUST diversify. That’s why even A-list singers and actors are licensing perfume deals, making reality show deals, performing for private parties, etc.

    I am learning how to develop a full-fledged freelance writing business, but I’m also currently working on my first non-fiction book. BTW, my first book is a relationship/dating book. My ultimate goal is to write about specific non-fiction topics, but I also love to write marketing copy. I’ll keep doing both for a while, and I’ll always be glad that I can diversify in many directions.

    As someone mentioned, NO ONE can take our talent away from us. Therefore, we can always guide our own ship financially. We’ll never be too young, too old, too WHATEVER, to make money using our talent and skills. What a blessing that is!

  17. Lucy Smith says:

    I sometimes feel that there’s a level of snobbishness and elitism with writers, but they miss the point. (And very often, the sneery ones are the young hipsters who haven’t learned about the real world yet! I think we all go through that phase, until we get mortgages and vet bills.) The people who are working on their Great Novel may sneer at copywriters, but heck – they read the backs of cereal boxes, they get information on the internet, they read product descriptions of things they buy. And the people who write those things are putting food on their tables.

    That said, obviously some copy jobs get my juices flowing more than others. But you can develop the skill of finding at least something in there you’re interested in. Take a thing I’m working on at the moment: it’s copy for a website that sells drainage systems. Whoopie-doo, I thought when I took the job. But some of the companies they work with make some very cool products that let you recycle greywater into the garden, and even black water. The environmentalist in me appreciates that, and it’s something I get to learn more about.

    For the record, copywriting is my main love anyway. I’m probably unusual in that I have no real interest in writing a novel – I remember Salman Rushdie saying in an interview that most of the copywriters he worked with at Ogilvy were working on some novel or other.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Great example of how to find the nugget of personal interest in a copywriting gig, Lucy!

      You never want to write for a company where you think they’re sleazy or something. Or where you just can’t relate in any way to their audience or offerings.

      But to me that leaves plenty of interesting stuff.

      I was very fortunate in that business was my big reporting beat as a staffer. I talked to so many business owners…and what happened was, I fell in love with the drama. The stories. The successes and failures, the innovative ideas and the flops.

      I think of business as the ultimate soap opera. It’s where all the money and power really come from.

      It’s fun to write about it, once you get in the right frame of mind ;-)

      Which isn’t to say I don’t have other writing projects I’ve love to do as well. But in the meanwhile, I do have 3 kids to feed and put through college.

  18. Good tips. This applies to any business you run with a passion. I suppose when it comes to paying the bills you gotta do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.

    I’m currently writing a memoir, have a draft of a screenplay completed and have done some research on a biography. Three projects I love doing. But first things first – I gotta pay the bills so these writing projects have to fit around other activities that provide an income.

    Of course when these writing projects take off and I make heaps of money I can then sit on my verandah, sip green tea and just write. That’s the dream. :)

    Regards
    Chris Bennett
    Chris Bennett recently posted..Our New Event Calendar

    • Terr says:

      I’m with you, Chris. I wish I were in a financial place of doing nothing but focusing upon my passion projects. However, working on my projects will be a waste of time if I’m evicted from my apartment, if the lights or the water gets cut off, etc. So, it’s all about balance, dreaming, and planning.

      Having said all this, I learn from blogs like this, to make time for my dreams. Even if I can only carve out a couple of hours a week, I’m still taking steps. Frankly, I know of people who make more money than me right now, but they are miserable! They’re holding on to j.o.bs that promise them some sort of retirement plan, good benefits, etc. But these employees are bitter, worn-out, and lacking in dreams. Or, they have no talents or special skills outside of their j.o.b description.

      What keeps me going, is knowing that I have marketable talents and skills. I’ll take the lean times for now, if it means that I can direct my finances and my life now, and in the future. Even now, I love working from home and so many people WISH they could work from home.

      • Carol Tice says:

        I know more than one fiction author who has written their books on the ferry we take into Seattle, 30 minutes each way, day after day. Or who write 1 hour on their fiction each morning before the kids get up.

        That discipline and using tiny scraps of time can add up to big accomplishments over time, for sure.

  19. Amanda socci says:

    Carol:
    Another fantastic, inspirational post. I like how you talked about the bread and butter clients and how it is necessary to practice the craft of writing on a continuous basis until having the opportunity to write that dream writing project. I also liked the evolution of your thought, going from what a teenager expects and believes and what adults actually go through. I agree with you, to be successful in our passion writing, we must work hard and find passion in business writing or other writing that pays our bills. Well done.
    Amanda socci recently posted..Permission to be Selfish

  20. So I’m a young writer (23) trying to get started out, and while I agree with the gist of this piece, I feel like I don’t have enough expertise in anything that is likely to be of value to a “corporate” client. I have written a little bit about a lot of things – marketing, women’s issues, travel, craft and DIY culture, music — but I can’t boast 10+ or even 5+ years in any subject, and that’s likely what businesses are looking for. Any recommendations as to what I should do?

    • Carol Tice says:

      You’re so wrong, Claire!

      Look at any brand that sells to a young audience, and they’d love to have you blogging for them, or managing their social media presence. Look at everything your peers wear, watch, read, eat, listen to, places they go, perfumes they like…all those companies need writers who can speak the language of today’s youth, full of texting-jargon and slang.

      Don’t make assumptions about what businesses are looking for. Target companies where you have an affinity for what they’re doing — youth brands, especially ones where you ARE their customer — and I think you’ll be surprised.

  21. Carol,
    I guess I’m coming to my writing life a little later than most. I’m nearly 57 (next month) and I’ve been writing about 15 years part time. I started out with so little self confidence that it took me years to believe in myself. I worked multiple jobs for years while raising my kids as a single parent and taking care of my elderly mom that I never considered that writing could ever be full time.
    Now that I have an empty nest I am seriously figuring out how that can happen. If that young man at the beginning doesn’t like writing for business I’ll trade with him anyday since my weekeday job is working a split shift in a customer service call center. It sort of pays the necessities but it will never do more and the stress drains me.
    I have promised myself that I will learn what is needed to make writing my full time career now. Then, whenever I need to travel to visit my 4 grandchildren I can take my laptop, wireless internet and cell phone and just go.
    I wish this young man the best in finding his balance.
    Mina

    • Carol Tice says:

      I’m with you, Mina — the worst copywriting job is a darn sight better than most day jobs in my view. And it helps to keep that perspective!

    • Neil says:

      Mina, hit it right on the nail’s head. I am 51 and started into this career direction after losing my day job last year. Even though for some of us it is later in life, it is not LATE in life. Life experience and the things we learn gives us a reservoir of topics to write about.
      The balance for the young gentleman will occur as he realizes that we each one shot at life and we need to focus on what truly is important.
      I am more than willing to write about the topics in life that naturally would not interest me in the least, so that I can gain an appreciation for learning it. To be paid for learning something new is just added icing. Thank you Mina for sharing this little considered truth with us older folks.

      • Carol Tice says:

        That’s my sweet spot exactly, Neil — at this point, I try to enveigle ways to get paid to learn things I’d like to know. They might be on anything that touches any aspect of my life.

        For instance, I got business insurance for my freelance writing business after writing an article about the topic for Entreprener, which helped me figure out what sort of policy I needed.

        And right now I’m writing about how to catch up your retirement savings after the downturn slump, for Alaska Air. I LOVE it when I can line up these kind of situations…then even though it might not be your favorite main topic to write on, you can take a natural interest in it and it’s fun to do, in its own dorky way. ;-)

  22. Hi Carol,

    I love this post. There’s a part of every writer that just wants to write for himself, but then there’s the part that knows writing for others is the way to pay the bills. It’s not always easy, but the key is to realize that art is a hobby and writing for others is a job. Unfortunately, jobs pay the bills.

    With this said, one of the ways I’ve found to compromise is to write for the clients I want to write for and not to take on every job. Since I’m not the health writer type, I’ll turn down writing posts for health companies. Then I’ll use the time I’ve saved to approach companies I do want to write for. It still ends up being commercial writing, but it’s much better than writing on topics I’m completely not interested in.
    Joseph Putnam recently posted..Why Everyone Is Talking about Platform Building and Why You Probably Should Be Too

    • Carol Tice says:

      Great point, Joseph — I’m the same. I turn down gigs that aren’t a fit for me all the time (people seem to think I can do anything at this point)! Write tech landing copy? I don’t think so.

      Keeping some control over what you do kind of puts the ‘free’ in freelancing…

  23. Mysia Haight says:

    Wow, Carol, you took the words right out of my mouth! As a former publicist for the publishing industry (and layoff casualty), I’ve leveraged my experience into a freelance career as a writer of press releases (and other marketing and promotional materials) for books and authors. I never get credit for my work and the books I get assigned span a range of topics from project management to vegan cooking, from mysteries to memoirs. But, as you point out, getting paid to write sure beats pumping gas. And my work is always challenging and never, ever boring!
    Mysia Haight recently posted..Why I Like Every Book I Write About (Really)

    • Carol Tice says:

      I think you’ve got the right attitude, Mysia!

      Doing promotional work like that also gives you another angle to feel productive as a writer, in that what you write might help another writer to earn. To me, that’s highly gratifying…that’s what I’ve learned giving advice in Freelance Writer’s Den!

      Writing sales copy for businesses, you can have the satisfaction of feeling you are helping that business owner feed his family. As long as you think it’s an ethical company, for me that’s something to feel good about.

  24. Doug Toft says:

    Many blessings to you, Carol. It took a lot of courage to write this post, and I admire you very much.
    Doug Toft recently posted..Define Your Values in a Way That Makes a Difference

  25. Mitch says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Carol. A fresh perspective to keep me going strong and going forward.

  1. [...] Why Being a Sellout Will Help You Write What You Love-A bloggy pep talk from Carol Tice.  Writing about such unglamorous topics such as business or computer networks is not selling out.  You can still write what you love and write on those topics that aren’t so glamorous.  For me personally, I need both types of writing in my life. [...]

  2. [...] Why Being a Sellout Will Help You Write What You Love [...]

  3. [...] Make a Living Writing, why you need to be a sellout in order to write what you want to write. This was definitely reinforced for me last week upon chatting to a couple of long-term freelancers [...]

  4. [...] blogging for pay, news writing, web content writing, freelance editing. I’ve tried to sell out so this writing life isn’t so tough. I even thought about getting a day job when we landed in [...]

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