Bread-and-Butter Writing

© 2011 Leslie Rowe

Convert your skills to cash by writing for the marketplace

The electric bill spiked and your pantry looks paltry. When writing is your passion but eating is your priority, why not convert your skills to cash by writing for the marketplace?

There’s more to learn before you dive in. I recommendThe Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Copy That Sells by Robert W. Bly. Bly’s book offers foundational lessons to help launch your writing-for-cash endeavor.

What can I write?

As a freelance copywriter, requests that ring my phone include:

  • Resumes – Higher unemployment means you’re in demand.
  • Website content – Connect with website developers to find work.
  • Blogs – More businesses are blogging. Be bold and ask if you can write theirs!
  • Newsletters – Service providers reach clients with newsletters.
  • Brochures, sales sheets – Graphic designers make it beautiful, but copywriters write it best.
  • Editing – They need a pro to finish a project.
  • Ghost writing – Business professionals need articles for trade publications.

Features versus benefits

One basic writing-to-sell concept is features versus benefits. Say I’m selling a black dress. The features: it’s black, sleeveless, and silk. The benefits: It makes me look slim and beautiful. (I’ll take that one!)

When writing to sell, interview the business owner and discover the features. As a potential customer, ask:What’s in it for me? Does it save time or money? Make my life easier? Make me look better, feel better? Focus on benefits first and follow up writing about features.

How much do I charge?

First, remember that your income dollar is not your pocketed dollar. Self-employed individuals must contribute the employee and employer share of FICA, or 15.3%, plus your income tax percentage. Freelance rates vary, with $25/hour on the low side and $100/hour (and up!) on the high side. The busier you get, the more you can charge.

Where can I find clients?

Network! Tell everyone you know you’re open for business. Announce it on Facebook. Attend chamber of commerce mixers. Connect with website developers. Answer writing job ads with a freelance proposal. Create a website and pay for search engine optimization. Hang resume flyers at colleges. Earn repeat business with excellent writing and service.

A means to an end

Writing from your heart can be far more rewarding than writing to sell. But if you have to work, why not hone your writing skills while you are at it? Personally, I hope to transition to writing more about my faith. But meanwhile, I’m earning a living, and I work in my pajamas. Not bad for a day job, right?
Leslie J. Rowe is a freelance business and creative writer. Visit her tired-but-still-working business websiteand her neglected-but-now-resurrected blog. Leslie has been writing full-time in the business community for nearly ten years, and has gingerly stepped into the waters of inspirational writing. Married for 27 years, she and her husband have three grown children. When she’s not writing for business clients or creative pursuits, Leslie enjoys bike riding, Starbucks with friends, and walking on the beach in her hometown of Sarasota, Florida.



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