Freelance round-up: This month in writing

Copywriter taps into vanity Googling

Not everyone will admit to it but most business people Google themselves from time to time. Knowing this well, one copywriter decided to ingeniously tap into the trend to land himself some work.

Alec Brownstein found out the names of top people at the companies he would like to work for and then bid on their names as Google keywords. When these people Googled themselves, the top result was a message from Brownstein saying “Googling yourself is fun. Hiring me is fun too.”

The keywords were cheap, so for a total of $6, Brownstein got four interviews and landed a job at Y&R, a top creative agency.

Neat trick, don’t you think?

Why copywriting is like writing a Mills and Boon

Over on Copyblogger, Sonia Simone details how writing four romance novels taught her a lot about copywriting.

She says: “If you want to write effective copy, you must learn to engage readers emotionally. And if you want to study emotional writing, try reading a few highly successful romance novels. Get over being embarrassed – if you can buy Cosmo or The Enquirer to study headlines, you can buy Laura Kinsale to learn what writing skillfully about pain looks like.”

Time to go to the library?


As a freelancer, do you ever feel that your mind is being pulled in many different directions? The nature of the job means freelancers are often thinking about five different projects as well as working while they do other things. Emailing on the train and tapping away through lunch are commonplace.

It can, though, make you feel pretty stressed and out of control.

After reading research that multi-tasking is bad for you, one journalist decided to undergo an experiment – Operation Focus – to see what would happen if he only did one thing at a time for a month.

Find out how he got on – spoiler: it’s not easy but it’s good for you.

More about ‘free’lancing

We all know that, increasingly, freelance rates are often low or completely non-existent. A blog post on The Stage website by theatre critic Mark Shenton raises another interesting dimension to the issue – payment for expert commentary.

Mark recounts how he has regularly been asked to go on high profile TV or radio programmes for free to provide comment on topical issues related to his expertise in the area of theatre. The programmes argue they’re only local stations or that they can’t pay in case they seem to be promoting a particular opinion.

He refused one freebie slot from the BBC and was then offered a small fee. He is now calling on more people to take a stand against being asked to give away their expertise for free, but he adds: “It’s outrageous that one should have to make the point at all.”

Some argue that these comment slots offer journalists and experts valuable exposure. One commenter on the piece says: “Critics are used to being given free tickets/special treatment for shows etc. on the basis that the production will benefit from the publicity created by the review - here you are being asked to trade your service in return for the publicity you will gain from the media exposure. Whether or not you choose to make that trade in the hope that the benefits in the long run outweigh the loss of a small fee is entirely up to you.”

Others disagree. One says: “it's a simple matter of payment for services rendered. If you want an expert to offer an opinion on your broken boiler, you pay. If television or radio want an expert to come in and offer an opinion on something, they pay.”

What do you think?


Sarah Wray


2nd June 2010

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