Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Freelance Learning

As many of you know, I've been working part-time as a freelance writer since last fall. It's kind of nice - I pick the jobs I want to do, work when it's convenient, and spend my life teetering on the edge of many, many deadlines. So ok, the deadlines aren't so nice... but it's actually a very fulfilling kind of work for me.

One of the perks is what I'm learning from all of this. See, one of my jobs is for a UK-based content generating site. Companies hire them to get written content for their websites. I get paid per short article but all of the work is anonymous. A little weird, yes, but it's exposing me to some pretty cool things. For example, I write many of these article using the UK English setting in Microsoft Word (per their work orders). I've been spelling 'colour' and 'favour' and I find myself using Brit-like expressions at times... and words like 'lovely.'

It's like writing with a British accent.

But more than that, I have to do a tremendous amount of research if I'm going to write 'spot-on' articles. I've learned about silver commodity exchange markets, questionable websites selling women's 'unmentionables' to gentlemen friends, cherry picker rentals, and the foreign exchange market. This week, I wrote 16 articles about bathrooms... specifically, shower stalls... or 'shower enclosures' as the Brits say. I did not know I could write 16 articles about shower stalls, but somehow, I made my deadline.

My other writing jobs span a wide range of topics. For Associated Content, I focus on Beauty articles. This week, I wrote about hair care. For Suite 101, I write about women's health and allergies. Sometimes I write about dogs, but the Pets Editor is a pain in the neck, so I try to avoid that section. At Demand Studios, I have to pick articles from a list. Sometimes I end up with weird ones like this week's Fish Tank Mold Allergy article. For Nifty Magazine, I write about beauty and skin care for models. I know. And then at ShopGala, I write about shopping and saving money, then sometimes I review products or stores.

I'm all over the place.

Sometimes, I also dabble in press releases (as a consultant) and "image management" blogging. But I'm not supposed to talk about that one. I signed a contract once.

Anyway, that's what I do. In case you were curious. It may seem a bit frantic at times, a little all over the place. But one day, this is going to let me stay home with my kids and work on my own schedule. Not bad. And I actually get paid what I'm worth -- I write something, I get a check. Pretty straightforward.

One day I'll breakaway from the madness of being pulled in all of these directions and just focus on my niche: beauty and skin care. But for the time being, I don't mind writing that article on Allergen Swab Tests. Cuz hey, it makes me a student every day of my life.

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