I have a confession. For a while now, I’ve been working for an online company that supplies copywriting jobs. That’s not the confession; I have no need to be ashamed of this fact, having registered for tax and everything, although that’s more in hope than in expectation. I’m on target to have earned enough to pay for one school uniform by the end of the tax year – not necessarily THIS tax year, but certainly A tax year. I won’t name the company who provide me with these jobs, since I have no proof that they aren’t secretly MI5, testing my capacity to keep my mouth shut and form grammatically correct sentences, ready for the day they need somebody to infiltrate Rupert Murdoch’s empire. On second thoughts, the grammar thing wouldn’t be an issue, so that’s probably not the job they have in mind.
It’s not like a ‘PROPER JOB’. There is no guarantee of work, I’m definitely earning less than the minimum wage and I don’t see a friendly face for days on end. Actually, it’s quite like some ‘PROPER JOBS’ I’ve had in the past.
It works like this –
- I log on to a website (MI5 – Shhh!)
- I check my messages – invariably, there are none!
- I open a separate browser and post a comment on Twitter
- An hour later, I remember I was supposed to be working, but I’ve had three retweets and five favourites; it’s a personal best.
- I look in the different categories – these change frequently but there are some regulars, e.g. animals, science, product descriptions – I look at them all. (Once, in ‘Science’ I found a job writing about the symbolism of Chinese food items. Richard Dawkins would have been livid!)
- I try to find something I can write, either because I have some specialist knowledge (Pies, Columbo and the film career of Cary Grant) or because I can research it (Anything that is not pies, Columbo or the film career of Cary Grant)
- I select a job and work on it
- I submit the job and – BANG – three days later, they probably accept it, although I have had to rewrite things before now. For example, in an article in which I had specifically mentioned Goth fashions, they returned it to me because they wanted me to mention Goth fashions. On another occasion, I linked to the BBC and they asked me to link to a reputable website, ‘like Wikipedia’. The client is always right. The client is always right. The client is always right.
The pay varies from ‘terrible’ to ‘okay’, but I have a limited skill set. I’m not Liam Neeson, so my skill set won’t ever help me if members of my family are captured by sinister men, but if they want me to write them an advert for stolen arms or microfilms as some kind of ransom fee, I can do that. I do this work because I’m fairly good at it and it allows me to carry on with my real job as a taxi-driver to my children.
But this is the thing: I write fashion blogs. There! I’ve done it. I’ve confessed!
If you’re wondering why I feel the need to get this off my chest, you have obviously never met me or seen a full length photo of me, apart from the tiny one on my WordPress profile, in which you may not have realised I’m wearing a Nylon jacket, fleece tracksuit bottoms, battered boots and a liberal coating of mud. The idea of me writing a fashion blog, or even being allowed to discuss fashion in company, is frankly absurd! To illustrate the point, I’ll have to let you know that I am currently wearing a Betty Boop nightie, grey pyjama pants, a pink fluffy dressing gown and socks adorned with pictures of foxes.
However, my daytime clothes are picked using the same basic criteria as my night-time clothes. I want to be comfortable, warm/cool depending on the weather and I like my clothes to be reasonably priced. I firmly believe in the three Rs – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – so I get most of my clothes from charity shops. I’m not fashionable. I have never been fashionable. If I ever become fashionable, you can rest assured that it will have been by accident and won’t last more than a season, since fashions change a lot more quickly than my wardrobe. I still have clothes I wore when I was expecting my first son and he just turned 24.
In short, if my employers, clients or anybody who has read my fashion blogs saw me, it would be akin to discovering that Giles Coren sits at home eating Pot Noodle with a wooden fork from the chippy as he writes about the merits of the organic rack of lamb at the Hix Oyster and Chop House. They would have no confidence in my assurances of the likely prevalence of faux punk this winter or my conviction that oversized, colourful coats are going to be EVERYWHERE by the end of the year.
The sad thing is, if anybody saw me in my raggedy black cotton trousers, black, hopelessly stretched jumpers and endless parade of novelty socks, they might just think that you can’t believe what you read on the internet. And I wouldn’t want them to think that!