What Do you Write About?

What Do you Write About?
It's a question you get regularly when you tell people you're a freelance writer. I always suspect most of them are hoping to find out I'm actually JK Rowling or George RR Martin in disguise. Eyes usually glaze over when I say technical writer... but you know, it's really a very good question. And one that we should ask ourselves regularly. What DO we write about?

“So, what do you write about?”It’s a question you get regularly when you tell people you’re a freelance writer. I always suspect most of them are hoping to find out I’m actually JK Rowling or George RR Martin in disguise. Eyes usually glaze over when I say technical writer… but you know, it’s really a very good question. And one that we should ask ourselves regularly. What DO we write about?

What Do you Like To Write About?

If you have been writing for a while, you probably have a pretty good idea of what you like to write about. And you’ve discovered that writing about things you enjoy is more productive, and therefore more profitable, than writing about things you don’t enjoy.

For me, those things I enjoy are software and needlework. At least that’s where I’ve landed. What I really like is helping end users use whatever my father generally called “the gizmo.” For me, any gizmo will do. What I enjoy is the end user part of it. I love the analysis and codifying of “how to use it.” So I love writing help files, tutorials, and procedures. Software and hand embroidery provide beautiful outlets for that.

In marketing, this is often called “niching down.” In the world of New Age Metaphysics, it’s part of “following your bliss.” I just call it logical.

Cost Benefit Example

Let’s use me as an example. Every so often I don’t have a paying gig on the table. It happens to everyone. Early on, when this happened, I’d panic. I don’t like cold calling. So I’d do my direct mail techniques and in the meantime fill in the time writing product descriptions and blog posts for a couple of medium to well-paying content farm sites.

I did pretty well at that financially. But the truth? I don’t like writing evergreen blog posts that aren’t mine. And there are only so many ways to describe ovens and stoves and even clothing before creating “unique content” becomes not only difficult but nigh impossible. (On the plus side, now that we’re ready to replace the stove I know more about my options than the salespeople!) Doing well financially in these circumstances meant forcing myself to the computer. I took long social media breaks which meant I was often up late finishing. I rarely saw my spouse. In general, I was miserable. And I didn’t want to write.

Knowing that, now making those cold calls doesn’t seem so bad! Calling people for an hour or so a day versus writing 300 versions of “4 electric coil burners with variable heat settings make cooking easy; and the porcelain enamel top means spills wipe right off.”

In the End?

You’ll probably have to take some jobs that aren’t your favorites. Especially when you are starting out. But taking the time to figure out what you enjoy is worthwhile. By aiming your focus in that direction from the start, those not so fun jobs will become fewer sooner.

Let me know in the comments what you like to write. Are you a sales page guru or a help desk maven?

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