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Is this the end of writing as a profession?

June 22nd, 2018 by Bob Bly

In a recent issue, I talked about whether freelance copywriting
is still a viable profession.

So subscriber TK then asked me, “Well, what about regular
freelance writing?”

By “regular” freelance writing, he was referring to a variety of
things writers commonly produce to make a living — and that are
not directly related to selling or marketing, but rather, are
written to inform or entertain.

These can include: magazine articles … newspaper articles …
nonfiction books … novels … short stories … plays … poetry …
essays … comic books … TV shows … movies.

TK wants to know: Is traditional freelance writing doomed?

My Facebook friend RK is of the opinion that yes, there’s no
future in freelancing.

RK writes:

“There is so much wonderful writing on the internet, which is
free. Eventually, writing will be like musical recordings.
Everyone will have access to everything.

“You can find the books of the greatest writers of all time for
free on the internet. The greater the writer, the more likely you
can find copies that can be read for free, because people upload
things in order to share these writings.

“The world is changing–has changed–considerably. Many excellent
writers give away 200-page books for free–really excellent.
Digitization is creating an entire new world.”

Some years ago, I interviewed writer Harlan Ellison for Writer’s
Digest magazine.

I asked him if the outlook for freelance writers looked gloomy.

He answered: “Bob, in terms of money, condition of work, and
approbation, things are worse today than they were when we first
met in 1979. Life is a lot harder for writers now.”

Then I asked Mr. Ellison, “Do you directly blame it on the

He gave a strong affirmative reply, criticizing the “slovenliness
of thinking” on the web as well as the “slacker-gen philosophy
and belief today that everything should be free.”

“These mooks don’t think of writing as craft or even an
occupation,” he said. “They think it’s some kind of dilettante
behavior. Much like their own lives.”

With all the sites publishing articles and short stories for
which authors are not paid, and which readers don’t pay to read —
well, what would you expect?”

Ellison again: “The amateurs ruin it for the professionals,
because they write for free just to get published.”

Just as free article and short story sites and blogs are
destroying the time-honored profession of writing articles for
pay, Kindle is destroying the traditional book publishing
industry brick by brick.

Back in the day, writing a book and actually getting it published
by McGraw-Hill, John Wiley, or another mainstream publisher was
something of an accomplishment.

But now, thanks to Kindle and Createspace, every Tom, Dick, and
Harry can instantly become a “book author.”

And when everyone is an author, there’s nothing special about you
being an author, right?

There are very few safe havens for freelance writers who, like
me, want to continue to be freelance writers and earn a decent
living at it.

One of these safe havens is direct response copywriting. Why?

Because the old adage that “everybody writes” — and can write —
is beginning to rear its ugly head again.

But those of in direct response know that in fact very few people
can write DR copy that makes millions for their clients and
produces clicks and conversions through the roof.

So areas where a piece of writing’s ROI can be measured down to
the penny still have high demand for writers … and limited
supply, because frankly very few people are good at writing
direct response copy that works.

Another way to survive and thrive in the downward spiral of the
freelance writing profession is to build a “platform” — a
combination of expert credentials plus a built-in audience for
your writings.

Example: Rachel Ray sells truckloads of her cookbooks. Not
because she is the world’s best cook, but because she has a
popular TV show.

Maybe you can’t get a network TV show right away, so start
building your platform on a smaller, more modest scale — anything
from a weekly column in your town newspaper to a 15-minute show
on a local radio station.

It’s not like being Dr. Phil. But it’s a start. And you’ve got to
start somewhere.

Plus, the more you build up your platform, the more likely you
are to be in demand as a freelance writer, have a loyal
readership, and have editors and publishers buy your work.


This entry was posted on Friday, June 22nd, 2018 at 1:38 pm and is filed under Writing. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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    The blog post is interesting. The article asks a question, that is, “Is this the end of writing as a profession?” You can come across plenty of people who are pursuing writing as a profession right. It is clear that there are many people who would like to become a professional writer in the future as well. Writing as a profession helps people to earn a lot of money along with acquiring plenty of knowledge. Hence, it can never say that this is the end of writing as a profession.

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