The fall of 2014 seems like such a long time ago.
It had only been a few months since we made the move to the Dallas area, and for the life of me I could not find my place in the land ‘o heat. Aside from my in-laws, I knew no one. I was looking for a job, something that would allow me to stay home and be available to our 3 boys, but finding something with that kind of flexibility was difficult.
And then I ran across a blog titled “Stay-at-Home-Moms: Could Freelance Writing Be the Income You Need?” from Red and Honey. The blogger gave a short blurb about Express Writers, one of her recommendations that she described as “very active…with lots of work.”
Take a writing test? I thought. Easy. They assign jobs to you? I can handle that.
So I leapt. I filled out the application, took the writing assessment, and lo and behold—I was a writer!
Well, kind of.
Over the next 7 months or so, I spent my days churning out blog posts, web content, and trying to hone my skills as a creative copywriter. Let me tell you, it was a rough beginning—and I’m not talking about the workload.
Thankfully, they have been patient with me.
A Day in the Life of a Creative Copywriter
I have always wanted to be a writer. From the days of third grade, when I won a Young Author’s award for my story about the fisherman who kept his catch as a friend rather than as food, all the way through my days of journal-keeping in college, something in me has always wanted to put pen to paper and create.
After getting married and having 3 kids in 3½ years, not to mention a decade’s work with my husband as a non-profit administrator, writing took a backseat. I was faced with the task of a regular speaking schedule, which meant I put together manuscripts for delivery, but it was not the creative copywriting I knew could be developed in myself.
And then our move to Texas changed everything.
I went on to write for EW until the summer of 2015, when I began working for a local non-profit. While I loved serving the impoverished and homeless, a leadership change in the organization was my cue to exit that position.
So there I was again, earlier this year, without a job and once again unable to find my place in the land ‘o heat (funny how things come back around). So I sent an email to Express Writers, asking if they had any open positions.
What is a Creative Copywriter?
After I meet someone new, the next question is usually, “And what do you do?”, and after I answer, they usually come back with, “So, you have a blog?”.
Although a creative copywriter’s job may sound simple and mundane, every day does not look the same. Here are some highlights of my workload in the past few weeks:
- Social media management: One of my favorite tasks!
- Blog posts: A couple of 1,000 word posts with a keyword emphasis that required research and finding authoritative voices to back it up.
- Video transcription: I summarized the key points made in a media presentation.
- Encyclopedia-like content articles: Rather than present content in a blog format, I took a third-person approach and wrote more encyclopedic content.
A creative copywriter takes on a variety of roles, depending on the needs of the client and their industry. The approach is always changing, and in order for the content to be effective, there must be thought and creativity behind the writing process during every step of the process.
What is a Creative Copywriter Made Of?
I have the advantage of working from home, which always includes a full pot of coffee and a variety of comfortable yoga pants (my husband is not convinced that these are considered a business expense).
When I first started with EW, I was looking to earn a supplemental income for my family and be available when they needed me. This second time around has been much different, and I think it’s because I’ve realized that a creative content writer can’t be as impactful if he or she sees the process as “just a job”.
While I do love the flexibility (and the work attire), I have also seen growth in myself as a writer. I have learned that to be effective in this industry, there a few characteristics that must be present:
No content creator comes up with authoritative content on a whim. Even the experts have sources on whom they rely for accurate information and statistics. Content without research holds little power for the audience.
To the non-writer, coming up with 500 words may sound like an easy task. In reality, it depends on the topic at hand. If I am creating content for a long-term client for whom I have written in the past, it probably won’t take long to develop a post or article. However, if it’s a brand new client in an unfamiliar industry, the research will be more in-depth.
Every week, I sit down and picture myself as one of the followers of the social media pages I manage and think about what I would like to see in my newsfeed. I create images, find interesting articles and posts, and present them to specific audiences for their sharing and retweeting pleasure.
Creativity means getting outside of yourself and into the mind of the reader. It’s always about taking a unique approach and drawing others into the story.
Sometimes, the topics that our Content Manager sends me can feel drier than the Texas heat. I have to admit that there are times I have had to dig very deep in order to make an extraordinarily boring topic sound exciting.
Focusing on the topic at hand might mean an extra cup of coffee or a walk around the block in order to reset your mind. This is especially true if the words start to jumble together and you find yourself running out of something meaningful to say.
If I’m being honest, there are times that I couldn’t care less about the subject I am working on. And there are times I don’t always give my best (hello, revisions) and I know my work isn’t as good as it could be. That is where a team of editors and directors, aka accountability, becomes invaluable.
The willingness to change and accept critique makes up a big part of being on a team of writers. One of the reasons I love EW is because I know I will receive honest feedback, which helps me develop as a content creator.
A Journey of Discovery and Meta Tags
I have no idea how many thousands of words I’ve written in my lifetime. Between school and work and raising a family, there has been little time to reflect on just how far I’ve come.
Through these past two years, the countless hours spent writing, rereading, revising, and analyzing have taught me so much about myself and my ability to put thoughts down on paper. I confess that I still don’t quite understand all of the lingo that goes along with being a content developer, and I wish someone would make a Meta Tags for Dummies cheat sheet.
Remember That Life’s a Great Balancing Act
Dr. Seuss reminds us in his classic book, Oh, The Places You’ll Go that “it’s opener out there, in the wide, open air.”
The journey of a writer is just that—a journey. There are obstacles and open doors, as well as times of defeat and times of victory.
No one stops learning, and no one has ever “arrived”, especially in the ever-changing world of content development.
And with the right tools and the right team, we are made that much better while we travel.