Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance
There is an opportunity right now for anyone who wants to work from home. This opportunity is also for anyone who wants to travel the world and get paid at the same time. Before I begin explaining how this can be done, I want to start off with what this post is not about.
This post is not about:
- Creating a popular travel vlog,
- Creating an e-commerce site,
- Being a remote coder,
- Doing graphic design as a side hustle,
- Or becoming an influencer
This post is about how to use a universal skill, the ability to write, to make a living. And yet, just because everyone can write, that doesn’t mean everyone is good at writing. I would also add that anyone can become a decent enough writer to get paid, given enough practice and time.
The First Step In Becoming A DECENT Writer: Defeating Writer’s Block
One of the most prolific writers in the world, Seth Godin, doesn’t believe in writer’s block. He explains that what writer’s block really is, is a fear the writer has of not being perfect. If you want to be a professional writer, you are going to eventually write bad work. This is why most writers, whether you’re a content writer or copywriter, have editors. It is the editor’s job to fix any bad work you make, it is your job to write. It is as simple as that.
Writer’s block is the most accessible excuse to use when you don’t want to fully commit to the craft of writing. What I have done to get rid of my own writer’s block is to write every single day. This is a practice that Seth Godin suggests to anyone struggling, whether they are an amateur or a seasoned veteran.
The famous author Ernest Hemingway purposefully stopped writing mid-sentence so that during the next day, he knows how to continue. I could badger you with a whole slew of techniques and practices on how to tackle writer’s block but, to keep things short and sweet: writer’s block goes away by writing. Don’t be afraid to write badly. Just plow through and write each sentence knowing fully well that you can always go back and edit them or have someone edit your work for you.
If you are considering how to start gaining experience, know that you can write about anything. The best way to start is by creating a blog. The easiest topics to write about tend to be your obsessions, so that’s where I suggest you begin. Once you get a handle on what your topic is, the next step will be figuring out whether or not you want to write for the sake of entertainment, to educate your audience, or to sell something.
Do You Want To Write Content Or Create Copy: Content Writers VS Copywriters
Content writers and copywriters serve two different needs. Content writers write for publications to drive traffic to a website and gather readers. Copywriters sell products or services in order to convert people — to have them spend their money. The best way to know which type of writer you want to be (and you can be both) is by trying each role out.
Try experimenting with writing articles and blog posts that try to entertain your audience, educate them, and sell them on an idea. You’ll get a feel for what you’re best at based on your audience’s responses. Even if you don’t an audience, the simple act of writing these pieces will give you a sign on what you like to write about.
You can also find inspiration by reading! The best writers are great readers and they read regularly. Make sure that throughout your writing journey, you always take the time to read. Read books, read blog posts, read the newsletters that are in your email inbox. See what you like and dislike, and why. This will also help you figure out what you want to write about and how you want to write.
Here’s a list of resources I’m currently using to help me become a better writer:
- The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! by Al Ries & Jack Trout
- Ogilvy On Advertising by David Ogilvy
- Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini
- On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King
- Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene M. Schwartz
- Malcolm Gladwell’s Masterclass On Writing
How To Get The Gig: Don’t Pitch, Ask Questions
After you have created a large body of work, showcasing your ability to write consistently with your own unique voice, the next step is getting hired. Finding remote work as a writer isn’t as hard as it may seem. It took me three months to find my first job. And in the grand scheme of things, three months isn’t a long period of time.
Note that before you even begin searching online for your remote content writer or copywriter job, know that you’ll be searching for clients — not a boss. It is important to make this shift in thinking if you’ve never worked as a remote worker before. You work for your boss. You work with your client. That is the key difference to consider when sending your CV/resume to businesses that are hiring.
I mention this key difference between bosses and clients because the interview process you’ll experience will be different from a typical in-person interview. In any remote job interview, especially ones for remote writing positions, you’ll stand out more if you don’t sell yourself and your skills. I’ve found that clients tend to hire writers who understand them: their expectations, their needs, their concerns, and the needs of their customers.
The only way to understand your potential client is if you don’t sell yourself and instead, focus on asking them questions. If you got the interview, the selling part is already over. Some jobs will require that you take a written-skills test or a writing assignment. This may be the hardest part of the interview process. However, if you write regularly you will have a higher chance of successfully passing these tests, as they usually are used to access your ability to write grammatically. They were sold on your skills when they saw your CV/resume. Now what they want to see is that you are professional and that you understand what is expected of you. The best way to do that is to show an earnest curiosity in their business and asking questions helps you with that.
Some example questions I have used include:
- Have you ever hired someone for this position before? Were they also working remotely?
- What communication problems have you had in the past with previous writers?
- Do you use a writing manual?
- Do you examples of past posts or copy that showcases the brand’s voice? What are the best examples?
- How often do you need to be on a call with me and what times work best for you?
- What are your monthly, quarterly, and annual goals for website traffic, sales, etc.?
- What calendar and task management tools do you use?
Where I Found My Remote Writing Jobs
I found all of my copywriting jobs on both AngelList and Craigslist.
AngelList is another great platform I’ve used to find writing jobs. I prefer to use AngelList over LinkedIn because remote writing jobs posted on LinkedIn require years of experience. AngelList is a platform where start-ups are posting open jobs, so the opportunity to find a gig where you don’t need actual professional experience is much higher! If you want a specific recommendation, I suggest searching for the unpaid internship positions first. Once you’ve done two to three of them successfully, you can then use your past experience to get paid positions and ask your previous clients for referrals.
Using Craigslist surprised me because I wasn’t expecting that much when I first started searching for opportunities. Then I realized that there are a bunch of businesses outside of the United States that need native English speakers to create content and sell for them. As of writing this, that is where the low-hanging fruit is, any country that doesn’t have English as its first language. If you’re looking for specific recommendations, search for writing jobs within Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong. I have had great luck with these three countries.
Becoming a remote copywriter or content writer is only difficult if you are searching for an easy way to start. The difficulty tends to go down the more you write and build your body of work. I have been blogging for five years so, even though I didn’t have any professional experience, I still stood out whenever I applied for a position.
Perhaps becoming a remote writer is something you want to do. If so, know that I am not the only resource out there. I learned from resources available on the internet and so can you. I hope this post becomes a starting point for your journey to becoming a remote writer.
“The key to preparation is to strike a balance between knowing what’s out there and being optimistically ignorant.” — Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts, Page 50
If you’ve read up to this point, I want to thank you for your time. Please share this article with someone you know who might like it too. If you have any questions, you can send me a tweet or a message on Instagram. I hope this article helped you in some way! Thanks again for your time and attention.
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