If there’s one thing I can’t bear, it’s writers who make excuses for why they can’t get work. You don’t have to be pretty, have good hygiene or wear the right shoes to get a job as a freelance copywriter, believe it or not. No one can smell your halitosis over a web cam. Thankfully.
So when I hear a story about a writer who has decided they can’t get work because they’re simply too old, I want to bitch slap someone. I realize out there in the real world, ageism can be a big deal, but here in the virtual one, your age is just a part of your AOL email address. You’re NEVER too old to be a freelance writer.
The Benefits of Aging
I’d argue hard against an older person who claimed ageism was a factor in being overlooked for work. In fact, I’d say that this is one field where workers just get better with age. I’ve got a number of reasons for believing this, including:
Increased Life Experience. I don’t know where you are in your copywriting journey, but for most of us being a copywriter means having certain specialties that we’ve cultivated through a lifetime of experiences. Whether those experiences were on the job at Lowe’s or came through being an avid hobbyist, the more you know about a subject, the easier you can handle it in the way a copywriter does.
More Time to Hone Skills. The English language, as I’ve attempted to demonstrate over and over again, is a complicated and uncomfortable mess that doesn’t really make sense. The more time you spend trying to untie this Gordian Knot, the more you learn, the better you get and the smoother your language use becomes.
A More Impressive Portfolio. If you want a job, having a portfolio full of impressive things is the way to go. The older you get, the more of that stuff you have to show — “Here’s the time I wrote an ad that was in the Rolling Stone,” “This is a little something I put together for Nat King Cole’s Christmas Special” and so forth. Times and writing styles change, but the really prestigious publications and corporations won’t give a half a look to anyone with less than a decade of experience, so shake that thing your grand kids gave you. Or something.
What I’m saying, I guess, is that if you can’t find work as a copywriter, you need to look inside to find the reasons. Stop counting your God damned wrinkles and work out where you’re fucking up. I don’t care if you’re 90 or 1000 years old, writing is writing and youth doesn’t play a part.
If You Want to Really Bitch About Age…
There is one group that I should pull out here before I get a billion zillion hate mails. Young writers do truly struggle to get work. There is no question about that. After all, they’re competing with you old pruney bastards. When they’ve got a year of experience working as a lifeguard at their municipal pool and you’ve got 40 years of a water safety background to draw on, these kids are always going to lose.
They have to take shit wages, work for shit clients and generally do the worst work in our industry to just get a chance to get a foothold. Kiddies, that’s not to say that you can’t do this — you totally can — but you have to realize that it’s not going to be a picnic until you’ve been at it a few decades. Start today, but know it won’t pay off for a while.
If there’s any sort of ageism going on in our industry, it’s definitely against younger writers. I know really talented kids who struggle to find work because they don’t have enough experience. And you know, you can’t get experience without working… so it’s one of those dirty fucking circular arguments.
So, I say today to you old fucks, cherish being an old fuck. It’s where it’s at. You’re what everybody wants, you’re in demand, you’re the heat of our industry. Just don’t fuck it up by bitching that your age is the problem — if I were to guess, I’d say it was your attitude.