Many times, people have questioned how beneficial a writing skill is. They have questioned if the writing skill can be monetized or if it is a professional job.
In the personal essay beneath, Samuel Ephriam shares his personal experience and how he made a huge discovery in writing during the world wide pandemic that rendered many, jobless.
How I monetized my writing skill
The pandemic had made me a victim of circumstance when I had least expected. Everything grounded to a halt as the succeeding lockdown policy intensified. Although the epicenter of the pandemic wasn’t in Africa, Nigeria to be precise, the precautionary measures taken by the government to prevent the spread of the virus meant I was out of business longer than I had ever imagined. Till I woke up from my slumber.
I had been working in the hospitality industry as an event manager for well over five years. Nigerians like elaborate celebrations be it during childbirth, naming ceremony, marriage, coronation and the likes. Events were always made colourful and glamourous. That was what triggered my going into event management.
It was a rewarding experience and I made fortunes out of it. I had employed every workable strategy to ensure I deserved my clients’ patronage and recommendations. Within a short time, I had become a household name when it came to organizing top notch events. But all these changed for the worse with the outbreak of the coronavirus. At the time, I had already reached some advanced level of arrangements with about five different clients whose events I was hoping to manage when the lockdown was announced after cases of infections continued to spike.
With physical contacts banned and outdoor events with many people in attendance outlawed according to the prevailing realities, events were completely discontinued forthwith. Consequently, I became jobless and bitter. Staying home all day without my usual work engagements was an ugly new normal. Just like other people lost their jobs during these tough times, I went into depression countless times. I sometimes had to drink some alcohol to escape my surreal world. After about six weeks of redundancy and unproductiveness, I woke up to another reality. One that opened the course for limitless exploits and I realized that gold definitely has to go through fire in order to be purified.
Reactivating My Writing Skill
I have creative writing and storytelling as part of my fortes. Prior to to this time, I had been writing just for leisure. I wrote mostly from the things and people I came across in the different events I had managed just to make memories of them. Memories not money! I believed writing was just too homespun to be a deal breaker as long as my financial wellness was concerned. But all those baseless assumptions of mine changed as I resorted to something I could do perfectly and almost effortlessly – something that didn’t require me to leave my house most especially as staying indoors became the drill. This was born out of austerity and not necessity.
I had had numerous incompleted stories I had written during my free periods from work. With nothing else to engage in, I began writing again and got most of them completed with new exciting inputs. I started a blog for those short stories which were mostly science fiction and creative nonfiction with some elements of speculative fiction to make things thick. I’m a versatile writer and a poet as well. Prior to this time, I wouldn’t introduce myself as a writer. If it wasn’t about events then for sure, it wasn’t about me.
The Growth of The Blog
Traffic to the blog was awesome as I had referred most of my friends and associates to it from the different social networking sites. They formed the core of my audience and they told me how great my content was. With those reviews coming in even from some hard literary critics I had in my circle, I decided to give my craft a new sense of direction by going into freelance writing. I began submitting to online literary journals that we’re still making calls for submissions at the time. One thing I really loved about the difficulties occasioned by the pandemic is that, it made reading one of the noblest thing to do. Either to reconnect with the good old times or to keep boredom away.
I had equally taken up a couple of abridged courses on freelance writing and had also taken out quality time to read ebooks on freelance writing in order to perfect my writing skills. In all of these, my finances was not getting amazingly better although a few gigs ensured I still had food on my table. My reserves from my different projects in the past also meant I still had some money for online shopping as normal malls were shut. In the midst of this, I wasn’t despondent or desperate to make large sums because I understood I was building a relatively new career path.
One particularly striking lesson I have learnt from the pandemic is the emerging virtual nature of our world where almost everything is done online. I discovered that to remain relevant in the scheme of things, I needed to be in tune with what is going on in the electronic space. Freelance writing provided me that limitless platform where I could do just about anything with what I had – my laptop and internet connection.
To give my skill a more marketable approach, I incorporated copywriting into the picture. I knew I could as well utilize my storytelling abilities in that direction. I had downloaded tons of reading materials on copywriting and videos for my personal self development. All these are the fruits of the lockdown. I went into myself and invested heavily in me. I gained invaluable knowledge at no cost. All I really gave up was my comfort zone and replaced it with self-discipline.
Upon the phased reopening of the economy and gradual return to normalcy, I began writing sales and landing pages, video scripts and websites copies for companies who had successfully weathered the storm of the pandemic. Some of the jobs I did initially were free of charge. I did this in a bid to endear myself to my new clients and to break into a highly competitive industry such as copywriting.
Working now as a copywriter and a freelance writer feels great. I can take charge of my time even if I still have few events to handle. My new found career path also provides me with limitless possibilities as I can work from anywhere even during emergencies. It’s been a breath of fresh air as I continue to look forward to what more the future holds most especially in these unpredictable times.
About The Author
Samuel Ephraim Edward is a creative writer and a poet by birth and a diplomat by training. Some of his works are published in selected online literary journals. His recent poem titled The Viper’s juice was featured in the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council Project. He writes from his writing label ‘Siriacy Craft’.