If you’re new around these parts, you may not know that I’m a fiction writer. Aureole, my first novel, came out in 2012, and I’ve been working on my second novel (TLM) off and on for several years. It has taken me so long to finish TLM because of school and work, but since it has been a years-long process, my writing has changed over writing it as I’ve worked to improve the quality of my writing. If you’re anything like me, you’re on the lookout for ways to be a better fiction writer, and one way that I’ve improved my fiction is through website copywriting.
What website copywriting is: Essentially, copywriting is the act of writing copy, which is text “especially used for advertisement” (x). More colloquially, it’s the act of writing material that is used in some way to advertise something, but this might not be in a traditional advertisement format. For example, there are some people who write the material (aka copy) for advertisements, such as in Mad Men. Additionally, the way that the world works now means that all text for a company’s website is advertisement in some way. Usually, writing website copy means writing text for a website or social media account(s), and I mostly wrote content for a company’s blog based on information they provided me.
Why I started copywriting: Back in 2014, I had to quit my job as a teacher to move home to New England because of my poor health. I couldn’t really start a new job (even part-time) until after knee surgery since we didn’t really know how long recovery would take or what it would look like. I wanted to make money, but I couldn’t commit to a job for several months, so I wanted to do some freelance work on top of this blog. Between my blogging experience and my writing work, I figured that website copywriting would be a good start.
Website Copywriting Made Me a Better Fiction Writer Because I Learned:
– How to get my message across with only the necessary words – If you’re a writer, you’ve probably heard Stephen King’s advice to “kill your darlings.” Basically, it’s about getting rid of unnecessary words or aspects of the book and using better ones to get your message across. In fiction, that’s about a scene, a dialogue, a character. In copywriting, often you don’t want to take too long to discuss your point because your audience will stop reading. Whether that’s a social media post or your business’ about page, you need to convince readers of something and you can’t take hundreds of words to do it. Doing this made me focus on writing with the best words when I work on my fiction.
– That practicing different writing styles can improve your primary/preferred genre – I’ve mentioned several times that I’ve been writing pretty much my entire life, but since that has largely been either academic work or fiction, I had gotten into a bit of a writing rut. Flexing my writing muscles by getting outside my comfort zone gave me new ways to look at fiction (as has my MA in literature program, but that’s a tale for another post).
– How to write from someone else’s point of view – While this is something that I’ve tried before in various writing exercises and projects, copywriting is a whole other ballgame. By writing website content for other companies, I needed to take on their viewpoint and expertise as if it was my own. This is something that all writers need to do when they write about characters who are different from them, but copywriting forced me to take another step in that direction, which has made me better at writing characters.
How To Start Website Copywriting
There are a whole bunch of sites that you can do work for their clients and get paid. I wrote blog posts for different websites through BlogMutt, ProBlogger, and others. When you’re first getting started (and especially if you’re not positive this is for you), I suggest working through sites like BlogMutt or Fiverr because they pay $5-8 per job and there isn’t much at stake. Once you get more confident in your abilities or you have some jobs under your belt, it makes more sense to go for jobs that pay more and maybe involve more work because you’ll know that you can do it and you’ll have some proof that ability.
Other resources: Build a Freelance Copywriting Career, Freelance Writing Jobs for Beginners, Online Jobs that Pay Writers, A Complete Guide To Getting Freelance Writing Work, How To Find Freelance Writing Jobs for Beginners.
What unexpected work made you a better fiction writer?