How to Lead a Fascinating Life but Make No Money: My Year in Writing

Lawless poster with Tom HardyThe more interesting the work, the less it pays – that’s the rule I uncovered in 2012. It’s the reason why technical writers are paid well (you want to write a help guide for Sharepoint?) while film reviewers are paid poorly (you get to see movies!).

However, it was a great learning experience to meet so many creative folks. Truly inspiring to meet people who had written books, made movies and created web sites.

The highlight of the year was the work I did for On Tap, the free monthly entertainment magazine in DC. There’s still a special thrill to see your name in print that no digital facsimile can replace. I wrote about Lawless, Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Dark Knight Rises, V/H/S, Mansome and The Sessions.

conference room at the Four Seasons
conference room at the Four Seasons

For many of these movies, I had the opportunity to meet the directors and find out what inspired them. Along the way, I got to experience the movie media junket. It’s a really interesting process. You meet a sexy PR rep in a swanky hotel lobby and then get brought up to a suite to interview the director. You have 15 minutes to talk to them before the next reporter arrives. Later, you go to an advance screening of the movie. After that, you write your article.

It was sort of an amusingly ironic – I have no money but I’m going to the Four Seasons to interview a filmmaker.

Suzie Robb
Suzie Robb

Also for On Tap, I did an interview with future celebrity Suzie Robb, founder of Boobs Bacon Bourbon, a web site devoted to excess.

I also did some writing for local blog The Pink Line Project. For them, I wrote about Artomatic, iPhone photo apps and Save the Date, a great piece of performance art at the Corcoran.

My day job now is in government communications. I think government can do 100 times better at communicating with the public. For the online community GovLoop, I wrote about plain language, among other topics.

Though it was written in 2011, my blog post on WordPress usability has gone on to have a life of its own. It’s the most popular thing I’ve ever written and has been republished and cited on several different sites. My other super-popular blog post was about lessons from the life of Steve Jobs. Seeing the traffic these two posts received showed me the possibility in well-written, well-researched, opinionated web content.

Don't Mess Up My Block book coverOn the fiction front, I published Don’t Mess Up My Block, my parody of self-help books. It promptly sank into obscurity. While the people who have read it have liked it, I literally can’t give the book away. Meanwhile, Murder in Ocean Hall continues to get good reviews. Genre fiction sells.

Copyblogger says 2013 is the Year of the Online Writer. I’d like to write more nonfiction this year. In addition to my arts and entertainment interests, I want to cover content marketing, i.e., how organizations use web content to connect with audiences.

We’ve all become very good at avoiding advertising. The future for companies and nonprofits is in storytelling, in having the best content. It’s about letting employees write, blog, tweet and communicate directly with the public. How communications and technology come together online is something that’s interested me ever since the web was born.

Let the blogging begin!

Author: Joe Flood

Joe Flood is a writer, photographer and web person from Washington, DC. The author of several novels, Joe won the City Paper Fiction Competition in 2020. In his free time, he enjoys wandering about the city taking photos.

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