I haven’t been writing here much lately, because I decided to try to become a “professional writer” during lockdown. I wasn’t writing for anything reputable or anything, mind you. I had started a listing on Fiverr advertising myself as a film review writer. Surprisingly, I got a lot of hits right away! Unsurprisingly, most of them were spam. But over time, I did collect a nice little pool of clickbait article pushers and YouTube “TOP 10” accounts. I chugged along for a little over a year, and I actually made a few thousand bucks! It helped me cover some unexpected costs over the course of the pandemic, and allowed me to make some healthy investments and help out a few friends and family who were hurting financially because of various pandemic-related issues.
Sounds like I was making out pretty alright, yeah?
Here’s the thing though.
I hated it.
Holy shit, does writing become less fun when you’re doing it for WORK. Especially when you have absolutely no creative control. Every client would say they accepted pitches, and I’d pitch something that seemed to fit their site, and they’d veto it pretty much immediately. Which, hey, fine, but like – don’t pretend you’re giving me a say! Just give me my assignment, pay me my meager fee, and move on!
And most of the commissions I got were dreadfully devoid of any sort of actual analysis. I naively thought that if I put up a listing for film reviews, I’d get people who wrote for, you know, film websites. People who cared about film and wanted interesting takes! But nah, it was a lot of “rank the aliens from [franchise I don’t care about here]” or “explain the ending to [Marvel movie I don’t care about here]”.
Explainer pieces were my LEAST favorite to write. They’re devoid of any real criticism OR creativity, so they weren’t fun to write. I felt like I was just grabbing information from the fandom wikia page. Generally speaking, I am not big on Easter Egg filled movies. You know, things that are just designed to make you do the Leo DiCaprio point for the entire running time. I hate shit like that! I don’t watch movies to play franchise Where’s Waldo!!
I’m not one to overanalyze endings or a specific plot point, either. That just isn’t my viewership style. I don’t really concern myself much with continuity or lore, I just want consistent characters and themes, you know? Besides, how do you objectively explain the ending of something like The End of Evangelion? Or Twin Peaks? The beauty of stuff like that is that it’s open-ended and you can pull anything you want from them.
Anyways. Point is, it was very hard for me to pretend to be engaged in some of these prompts. I managed, which means I’m good at writing copy, I guess. But what’s the use in that if I hate it and it makes me hate my hobbies?
It also didn’t help that I spread myself waaaay too thin. I was lucky enough to keep my full-time job throughout the pandemic – luckily the company I work for is kinda recession proof. But it was like, I finished my normal work day and then I had to sit around looking up the synopsis of ten casino movies for a TOP 10 CASINO MOVIE LIST or watch some new Netflix movie that I didn’t give a shit about so I could write some half-baked article for $40. I wasn’t doing anything for me anymore – the only movies I watched were for work, and writing especially felt like a chore.
It wasn’t all bad, though. Like I said, I did make a decent amount of extra money – though it did screw up my taxes a little bit. That was more my bad, though, teehee. Note to aspiring freelance sidegiggers – keep track of your expenses!!!
And I think it did improve my writing skills overall. Sure, a lot of the stuff I was writing was super reductive. It’s not exactly hard to write out those “TOP TEN BULLYING MOVIES” YouTube scripts. But it did help me learn to write faster and more efficiently and made it easier for me to plan out pieces. I do want to make some more YouTube videos for fun in the future, so those skills should definitely be transferrable.
What’s the lesson here, then? I guess just don’t force yourself into monetizing your hobby. It really turned me off of writing for fun for a long time there. Now, I’m struggling to get back into the flow of things and to enjoy doing what I do. I had this idea that I would eventually build up my client base and write full-time, and like…I probably could have done that, but damn, I would’ve hated it.
If you want to give it a shot as a short-term thing, go for it! If you’re strapped for cash and you have a marketable skill like writing, you might as well utilize it. But if you like blogging about your interests for fun, you’re better off trying to start your own niche and build it up than try to make it a full-time job. That’s just how I feel about it, anyways. Your mileage may vary.
I just wanna write for myself again and be able to post whatever I want. No clients can hold me back! I’m gonna cuss and write about horny manga and anime character’s eyebrows!!!!!!! Yeah!!!!! Fuck!!! lol