Sunday, 18 January 2015

Can I Write Content For a Living?

I know - kind of a clunky headline. The alternative was 'Here's What I've Learned About Content in the Last Couple of Months at the Telegraph' which is even worse. I'm hungover so best I can do today.
The Telegraph news room.
In November I answered a request for male writers on a Facebook group and the commissioning editor gave me the gig. The first job was writing how beards are over. For the foreign readers, about 18 months ago Brits started thinking it was cool to wear a beard. Shoreditch in London was reckoned to be the birthplace, an old term 'hipster', (last heard in the sixties) was brought out of retirement to describe these new trendies and soon hairy faces were springing up everywhere, including mine. It was good through last winter, but felt a bit out of step come the spring. The Guardian published a feature claiming we had reached 'peak beard' and the fad faded fast. You can read what I wrote here and it lead to two further commissions.
I'd obviously heard of 'content' and I knew advertisers were desperate to keep people on websites that had their logo on it but in truth, I still don't really get it. Even if someone finds a feature about beards entertaining for two minutes, are they really likely to click through and buy a £100 shaver? The conversion rate must be tiny. Anyway, judging by the size of the creative teams involved, Braun must have handed over enough wedge for it to be a successful concern for all involved. The Telegraph has been really busy in ramping up it's online content. No brainer really; if people aren't buying newspapers because they can get their news free online, that's where the advertisers are going to concentrate their efforts. All the features options on the Telegraph Braun hub are certainly like to keep readers there for a while.
I always thought that writing for a brand was selling out. Maybe it is. The truth of it is that I always like a challenge. Give me a subject and I like figuring out how I can write it, keep it entertaining and most importantly, have the commissioning editor come back to me with more paid work. And if you want to make a living out of words, you have to go where the money is. It certainly helped pay for Christmas. 

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