Last spring, I was offered the opportunity to stop hustling for one-off assignments from this website or that magazine and instead take on a long-term copywriting project. The assignment was to write patient-focused content for NYU Langone Medical Center.
I resisted the idea at first. As a journalist, I feared the conflict of interest issues. But after providing full disclosure to all my relevant editors, I went for it. After all, a long-term project meant regular paychecks, and that is the holy grail of the freelance life. Plus, I was in a bit of a writing rut. To get out of it, I decided to adopt a new mantra: Just say yes. Whatever the opportunity, just try it. See where it takes you. And so I did.
For the revamp of the NYU Langone website, I was responsible for writing all of the patient and family support content. Nothing exciting or sexy, but pages such as “what to bring for your hospital stay” will get lots of traffic. As a writer, I’m not hard to please. If what I write helps anyone in anyway, I consider that a job well done.
The project had its challenges. Being a reporter requires that I sometimes be pushy. But when you’re working corporate, you can only push so much. You can’t insist that anyone talk to you, you can’t threaten them with a potentially embarrassing “no comment,” you can’t shame them with a “so-and-so talked with me already.” You just have to be really, really nice, and hope that your courtesy and professionalism get you what you need.
As with all new gigs, I had to learn how to adapt my writing style to the client’s voice. That’s a bit more of challenge with corporate writing, where yes, they want copy to be reader-friendly but not “girlfriend friendly,” as so many magazines and websites ask for these days. So I had to find a way to preserve my voice, while also adapting it to a more reserved audience. A challenge, but I enjoy challenges.
I learned quite a bit about the corporate world, and even considered rejoining it. Was it time for me to leave the insecurity of the freelance life for the stability of a steady paycheck? Was I ready to trade a flexible schedule for an employee handbook? I seriously considered it. On the one hand, I realized how much I enjoyed collaborating with a team. That’s not something you get to do very often when your desk is in your bedroom closet. But on the other hand, I need to be able to work my hours on my schedule, be that at 7 am or 10 pm, so the rigidity of 9-5 just isn’t for me. While the lure of a corporate job was strong, for now I’m going to keep working the freelance life, taking what I’ve learned from the corporate experience and using it to grow my business in new ways.
I’m not sure what is coming next for me, but I am glad that I decided to say yes when a new opportunity arose. I think that by continuing to do that, I will find a new path.