I had a green smoothie for breakfast this morning. Hold me.
I was coming straight off the back of an all night writing binge, during which I’d conjured up a freelance piece for a skin care company about the benefits of green smoothies. (NB. Spirulina has more calcium than milk and more protein than eggs, in case you didn’t already know.)
No surprise then that this ‘natural energy booster’ (as I deftly described it) was top of my breakfast list as I whizzed through the morning routine. My defences were low and my blood pressure high as I threw hastily hacked veg in the blender. It tasted as good as it looked (not very) but I had convinced myself of its worth by believing my own copywriting. Damn, I’m good!
This is one of those ‘things no one ever tells you’ about becoming a freelance writer. Unless you happen to have a solid niche specialization, you tend to become a Jack (or Jill) of all trades. You must be happy to research green smoothie recipes one day and real estate trends the next. You must dig deep and find an amicable, professional or quirky ‘voice’ as required, whether you’re interviewing a dentist or sinking your teeth into the stock market.
Every month I take on a wide range of projects for different clients, from book reviews, to press releases, to articles about hardware, hire cars or home loans. Sometimes it’s fascinating stuff and I love the learning process. Sometimes it’s tedious, but it pays the bills.
The biggest problem, though, is an insidious melange of FOMO, consumerism and paranoia. I can’t help but compare my real life to the life I’m selling when I write some of these commercial pieces!
If everyone else is drinking green smoothies (because I’ve just told them to) then why aren’t I?
Thanks to articles I’ve written or researched this week, I now have the Fire Service locked in to inspect my smoke alarms, an appointment with an advisor to discuss superannuation, a holiday booked that I probably can’t afford and total paranoia about my son being poorly prepared for starting school next year.
My colleagues tell horror stories of dreaming about their current writing projects. This is nice if you’ve just written about holidaying in Hawaii; not so great if you’ve spent days researching cockroach infestations.
Every now and then you’ll get a highly appreciative client who offers you a discount on whatever it is they sell. You buy, of course, because you’ve spent days convincing readers (and yourself) of the client’s greatness. It’s like a supermarket 2-for-1 deal on a product you never needed in the first place. Step away from the Paypal button!
It reminds me of my student days (or my breastfeeding days) when ab crunchers and nutribullets and sets of steak knives started to sound appealing because I’d heard them mentioned so many times, night after night, as I stared bleary-eyed at late night TV.
I think I may have uncovered a ‘dirty secret’ about becoming a freelance writer. All the controversy about being paid what we’re worth is born of a myth. Maybe we are all paid quite handsomely, it just doesn’t feel like it because we SPEND IT ALL on our clients’ products and services?!
Thank goodness I haven’t had a job from Tiffany or Ferrari lately.