What I learnt from writing about 561 toys

Posted on Feb 21st, 2014 | News and opinion

Freelancing was fairly new to me at the time, but I was finally making money as a writer after doing so many unpaid jobs before. While I wasn’t expecting copywriting to be as glamourous as portrayed on TV, I was slightly naive about the nature of it. I thought I would be discussing my creative ideas with businesses, talking about how my amazing copy would do them wonders. Unfortunately, you soon realise that freelance writing means a wide variety of different jobs and some of them are completely awful.

I managed to land a product description job, which was something I’d not really done before. It seemed like a pretty easy gig, you just have to describe what’s in front of you in a short paragraph. Of course, doing this 561 times about a subject you know very little about can end up being difficult and very time-consuming. This job was certainly that.

The first thing that hit me was the sheer numbers. I obviously knew 561 was a big number, but it’s not until you get started and realise how much you have ahead of you that it gets daunting. This is a really easy way to lose enthusiasm because you feel like you’re chiselling away at a mountain with a toothpick.

Perseverance and self-motivation soon became integral to meeting my deadline and, after a bit of practice, I got a lot better at it. I found using a tool like StayFocused came in very handy in stopping me from procrastinating. I would simply set myself strict chunks of time to work and then give myself a little break. I found an hour on and 15 minutes off worked pretty well. Splitting it up like that had me completing more in an hour than I would trying to sit and work for 4 hours in one go.

I also soon realised I was out of my comfort zone. Like most other people I spent a lot of time as a child playing with toys, but it’s not exactly the best preparation. I’d never written this amount of product descriptions or about toys in general, so I had to do some research. I looked up online toy sites, but I also looked at the user reviews too. This gave me a much better idea of what parents were looking for in a toy. This also helped me hone in on what was important and now, when I need to research, I try to find what the audience wants to know, not what I think they should know.

Going through this kind of job gave me a serious wake-up call in regards to freelancing. While I don’t think anyone truly believes a freelance career is a complete doss, there is still some sneaking suspicion the work will be interesting and more rewarding because you get to pick what you want. It’s when you’re frantically trying to think of new words to describe “fun for kids” so that you can get paid in time to get your rent in on time that you realise that isn’t the case. At least not at the beginning. Until you’re moving up the ladder, you’re going to have to take on terrible jobs from time to time and learn how to deal with it.

In the end, this job was tiring, boring, and a bit stressful. There were a few times where I considered chucking it, but I didn’t. When it was all finally done, I’d learnt a lot though. I found ways to keep myself focused, how to research and how to deal with the more negative side of freelancing. All in all, it was a terrible experience, but it turned out to be one of the most worthwhile jobs I ever took on.

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Written by Joshua Danton Boyd

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