Working in the Trenches Pays Off (Or At Least A Little More…)


I’m apparently in feast-or-famine mode when it comes to blogging.  I’ll have ideas for half a dozen posts and then just stare at the site for a couple of weeks.  Anyhoo…

It can be hard to do smaller jobs that seem “beneath” us.  But sometimes when we are in debt or (and?) trying to build up a professional reputation, we get in our own way if we don’t make these small and tedious efforts.

I try to impress this on my students.  They are annoyingly optimistic millennials, so they assume they’ll graduate college and walk into a job automatically making about $75,000.  The reality is often much lower.  I try to tell them one of the biggest mistakes they can make is being “too good” for that get-your-foot-in-the-door job.  Sometimes we are victims of an unfortunate series of events that keep us broke and in debt; but in many cases, hard work does pay off for those willing to put in what it takes to get there.

As a small example, back in the summer I started taking on some copywork to make ends meet.  It wasn’t a lot of money.  My first job was actually probably a negative wage, given how badly I screwed it up and the time it took to redo it.  But once I figured out how the work best got done, my writing-time-to-compensation value started to rise.  After all, if someone gives you, say, $7 for 400 words and it takes you an hour to bang them out — yuck.  But if you can do it effectively in 30  minutes, your wage is essentially $14/hour.  It’s a matter of getting fast at it.  This work paid a few bills for me, bought a few groceries and a few treats.  It was not reliable income and it still isn’t.  But it was something I could do when I had time off anyway.  I can sit on my ass for nothing, or I can sit on my ass for 30 minutes and make a little cash.

I took jobs that did not pay well and that were not very interesting.  I wrote about industrial sunscreen and window tinting in Arizona or personal injury lawyers for bicycling accidents in California or even bed bug exterminators in Missouri.  I wrote articles about a prominent diet product.  I did these things because I wanted to establish a work ethic with my copywriting bosses.  And it worked.

I just found out that one of this firm’s big clients wants me as their exclusive copywriter for their ‘net content.  This is especially fortunate since other boring and lesser paid work has all but dried up over the past six weeks.  In exchange, this client will pay me nearly 90% more than what I normally make to bang out a blog post or article.  It’s not yet money with which you can plan your Bermuda retirement.  And it probably will never be.  But it’s definitely money you can stick in the bank and watch it grow 90% faster than your previous wage!

Sometimes money just happens and you get an unexpected windfall.  Many times, though, money happens because you make it happen through diligence and elbow grease.


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