Thanks to social media and our love of sharing inspirational quotes on it, Carrie Bradshaw may be gone from our TV screens, but her memory won’t be forgotten.
As the muse of many a professional lady (and indeed, teenage girl) of the late nineties, the fictional Sex And The City lead character became the poster child for the young, independent and very successful modern women.
Carrie’s “job” in the hit series (aside from looking fashionable and trying to find a husband) was initially that of New York Star columnist, later freelance writer for Vogue and eventual published author.
The influx of content creation jobs for freelance writers across the PR, Marketing and Digital industries has led to many writers being likened to Contemporary Carrie’s.
Naturally good writers remain hard to find.
Big brands and their marketing agencies will happily outsource such a time-intensive but essential task for the modern online business.
Yet the technological advances that brought more writing opportunities – and the ability to make a real living from writing – are the same inventions that have moved it very far from the walk-in-wardrobe world of Sarah Jessica Parker’s character…
The internet age brought with it a plethora of online media, hungry for content minute-by-minute, not just news on the hour. No longer were thousands of wannabes fighting it out for a few key columns across the world’s best known newspapers and magazines. There were literally thousands of writing gigs.
However the internet also enabled millions of freelancers and bloggers to offer their writing services for free, for the back links or sheer kudos of being associated with some of the new big players in modern media.
That drove the cost down. So today, it would be very rare to find a writer making a good living from just one gig, like Ms Bradshaw.
Instead, most content creators will juggle numerous jobs, perhaps by the hour, from email marketing to blog writing, white paper research to infographic design.
They could be an interior designer in the morning and a financial services expert by the afternoon.
Carrie Conundrum: The key to making it work is to know your strengths; there may only be a handful of jobs that come easily to you in style, tone and research-to-writing time ratio. Anything outside these tasks will keep you busy but vastly reduce your actual hourly rate. Choose the work wisely.
Today’s writers aren’t just multitasking wordsmiths, they’re data scientists.
They can’t sit at a desk pondering their latest love life disaster and merely write from the heart like Carrie. Bored media consumers have plenty of other options. And it takes a lot to catch their attention in a scrolling social news feed.
From competitive content audits to SEO keyword research and meta descriptions, modern content creators must know the science behind why the words work so that they can ensure success with each piece they craft.
Compare this to SJP’s portrayal of tech-clueless Carrie who, in one episode loses her computer, and proclaims that she didn’t know you had to back up your work. In another episode (ironically named “Baby, Talk is Cheap”) she asks if the man she’s chatting to online can see her through the screen.
Carrie Conundrum: A content producer with a lack of digital knowledge won’t last five minutes in the current word-economy. Your digital marketing skills will need to be on par with your natural flair for the written word.
Thanks to media representations like SATC, friends of modern writers often imagine it involves sitting at home in designer dresses, smoking Marlboro Lights and concocting the odd article in between daily brunches with girlfriends and cocktail bar dates with city bankers at night.
On the contrary, most of us can be found in our pyjamas at a laptop during the day. And that’s just for the part of the work involving the writing.
In actual fact a huge part of developing a freelance business to ensure more writing work comes through the door requires a lot of meetings, telephone calls, emails, taking up guest speaking or training jobs and time spent networking online.
Carrie Conundrum: It’s important to weigh up the benefit of all of the above extra work because most of it will be unpaid. Time investment should be evaluated for return in the same way you would evaluate the benefit of a new industry book or qualification.
According to fellow character Miranda in the show, Carrie’s love of high-end designer shoes mean that she averaged a cost of $400 a pair. Carrie herself jokes in one episode to a mailman that she used to buy Vogue magazine instead of dinner.
Like Ms Bradshaw, Content Carries may struggle to get rich writing, but the bills they will definitely pay when funds are tight are more likely to be their trade tools – the internet subscription or smartphone contract – rather than a fashion magazine.
Arguably, modern day writers are a lot more impressive than Ms Bradshaw in terms of their business acumen, their technical skills and their ability to write across a plethora of industries and brand voice tones.
Unfortunately, modern day writers usually own a lot less designer shoes, too.
Award-winning Communicator Leanne Ross (www.aCupOfLee.com) has worked with some of Ireland’s leading agencies and spent years teaching SMEs and eCommerce retailers how to content market their brands. Her book “Talk Is Cheap – The Digital PR Your Startup Needs (But Can’t Afford)” is available on Kindle and paperback from Amazon now.