Many writers dream of making writing their sole jobs. There are some who genuinely enjoy their day jobs and are lucky enough to have the best of both worlds. Kudos to them. Still, several writers would prefer to paying the bills with their books, short stories, poems, or essays. Unfortunately, most of us won’t be as lucky as J.K. Rowling. That’s where commercial writing steps in.
You probably already know about many commercial writing opportunities: magazine/newspaper articles, guest blog posts, general website content, résumé writing, etc. Yet far more opportunities await freelance writers than the obvious choices.
The world is full of commercial writing prospects. You just have to know where to look. Fortunately, you don’t have to look hard but smart. Even the technology and medical sectors need writers from time to time.
What sorts of commercial writing opportunities are there?
- Slogans: Every service and product needs a slogan, and those catchy one-liners have to come from somewhere. While many of the larger companies have their own slogan writers, the smaller ones often have to outsource the project to freelancers who charge less. (Be careful not to undersell yourself.) I have two tips for this option: research the product/service before writing the slogan and provide your client multiple slogans from which to choose.
- Product Descriptions: It’s not glamorous but it’s necessary. From the specifics of a landscaping service on the business’s website to the Amazon description for nail clippers, every product and service must be described succinctly, accurately, and persuasively in order to sell. That’s where writers come in. Again, larger companies will most likely hire from within to write product descriptions. However, smaller companies and their owners do not have the time, money, and/or the skill necessary to write these descriptions themselves or hire a high-rate marketing professional. Freelancers once more shine.
- Brochures: From tourist traps to hospitals, almost every business uses brochures to get the word out about their service or product. The larger companies have built-in departments for that sort of thing and the owners or employees of small companies may design brochures themselves to save money; middle-of-the-road companies, those that aren’t quite big-time but aren’t necessarily new to the game, will probably look for cheap(er) freelance writers to write the text of brochures and designers to do the rest. The same goes with e-newsletters, e-mail campaigns, mailers, magazine inserts, etc.
- Book Reviews: You can be paid to write book reviews for magazines, websites, blogs, etc. Rates depend on the place you want to be published, the length and genre of the book, and so on, so research such services before looking for any openings. You also have to be careful with this commercial writing prospect. Mostly, you have to know where not to put your reviews. Namely, don’t advertise paid reviews for Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, or similar places. Most importantly, it’s often a violation of their terms and services. No use getting into trouble over one review. You can post reviews of books on these websites once you’ve finished reading them just because you want to, but I suggest avoiding advertising it as something authors, publishers, agents, or editors can pay for. Instead, make it a nice surprise out of your desire to let others know your opinion of the book.
- Book Blurbs: Indie writers and publishers can’t do everything themselves. They need to outsource many steps in the publishing process, from editing to book cover design. Sometimes they also need help with something as seemingly-mundane as the blurb at the back of the book or in the sleeve of the cover. Don’t be fooled; writing a blurb that both represents the book and makes it appealing to the potential reader isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Where can you find such jobs? To start out, I would suggest checking out freelancing websites. You can find information on these websites on my earlier post about side-jobs for struggling writers. However, my recommendation is to try Fiverr first. It’s easier, more freelancer-friendly, and the customers come to you.
I’m not going to lie, commercial writing isn’t the most glorious of freelancing jobs. Heck, it’s not always the most rewarding, either. I’ve jumped into commercial writing a lot the last few months. I’ve written book reviews, slogans, answers for quiz sites, and even hashtags.
I love writing book reviews; there’s nothing like being able to tell people that you have to read a science fiction book for work. I also like slogan writing and don’t mind the social media jobs. Still, it’s not what I thought I’d be doing at this point. I thought I’d be writing and selling books and short stories. Until I get my first book/story written and sold, commercial writing isn’t a bad way to go. I get to flex my writing and creativity muscles and earn some money to pay the bills, all while writing my stories and running this blog. Commercial writing may not be the most dignified option for “serious” writers, but no one really wants to be a starving artist, either.
What kinds of commercial writing opportunities have you encountered? Would you use commercial writing to supplement your other income, whether your main income be writing or a standard 9-to-5 job? What’s the one job, writing or not, that you absolutely refuse to do no matter how much you need the money? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
If you would like to hire me for book reviews, pun writing, slogans, editing, or something similar, check out my profile on Fiverr.