Commercial writing is a world apart from creative writing. While authors will often wait nervously for reviews to start appearing, a commercial writer will know his or her fate pretty much immediately. Submit a substandard piece of work and, not only will you be barracked for it, you’ll also end up not getting paid.
It’s not for everyone – writing to order. A client wants their articles, blog posts, press release, leaflet text by a given date and that’s what they must have. Claiming writer’s block and a need to lie down in a dark place will not cut it and the job you sweated blood to get will simply be passed on to a keener and more amenable freelancer. All writing takes discipline, of course, but commercial writers need it in spades.
Another key difference is that, in most cases, the freelance commercial writer will be told what to write. While, in many ways, this makes it easier – you’ve not got to fret about plot-holes, character development etc – in other ways, it’s more difficult. The client has a fixed idea of what you should be delivering and they may not have communicated it to you in the clearest of manners. The fact that they were a bit muddle-headed in their briefing is still going to end up being your problem – you should have clarified it.
Language is also different. Elisions, abbreviations, slang, colloquialisms etc are not welcome in formal writing and there is a convention to be learnt when writing commercial pieces.
We’ll look at bid preparation, syntax and freelancing sites in future blogs.