Freelancer Lesson #4: There are approximately 587 million dull topics in the world. You will have to write about some of them. With love. Or pretend love, at least.
Sometimes the jobs with the steadiest pay and the best rates are the ones that bore you into a coma. That doesn’t mean you should quit, and it definitely doesn’t mean you should lower your standards. In the world of on-line work, your reputation is your lifeline. That means that even an 800-word treatise on the merits of lawn mower maintenance deserves your best writing.
But how do you write your most engaging content, when you don’t even care about the subject? Well…
- Pretend. That’s what writers do, right? Put yourself in the shoes of the poor, misguided person who went googling after lawn mower maintenance articles. That person needs to hear what you have to say. They need it to be clear, relevant, well-researched, and most of all, interesting. That way they click right through to that whatchamawhozit your employer is selling. Google rankings go up. And now you’re the content writer he recommends to his hiring friends. Booyah. Hopefully the next buyer wants you to write about something magical, like tap shoes.
- Play. Challenge yourself to a little game. It’s called, “Bet I Can Make This Awesome.” Then do it. Fair warning: sometimes this leads to extra research, because it can be difficult to find an awesome angle on a topic you know next to nothing about. But it’s way more fulfilling than BS-ing your way through an article. And if you win, you end up with something awesome for your portfolio. Nothing impresses potential clients more than when they see you make dust into diamonds.
- Bank it. Like it or not, this is valuable experience. You will cash it in later, when you’re working on that future best-seller, and your characters are trudging through a desert wasteland, about to fall down dead, and you’re wishing you could join them. All those hours spent trudging through law office blogs will have trained you to follow through and reach the end. Your characters will find the hidden river on the other side and rejoice! And you will be glad you learned to persevere.
- Say NO. Some topics are not for you. Plain and simple. For example, let’s say somebody offered me good money to write about something like… oh, I don’t know… the effect of corporate banking policies on the stock market and the global economy. Let’s say they even threw in free research papers for me to peruse and learn and glean from, and let’s say I said, “Heck no.” That would be the right decision, for someone like me, who not only has no interest in such things, but would need approximately six months and a degree in corporate accounting to understand what the heck was happening. Rather than staking my reputation (my lifeline) on an article I have little hope of writing with panache and wit and insight, I would just say, “Thanks for thinking of me,” and walk away. And write about killer tap shoes.