Coffee, cake, writing, networking, pitching and thinking about Robert de Niro. All in a day’s work as a freelance betting writer.
Cup of coffee – Part 1
“Patience is the time between drinking a cup of coffee and the motivation to begin your day”
It’s not that I’m addicted to coffee.
It’s more that it forms an important part of my routine. And if you’re going to make a living in the relatively obscure field of being a freelance betting writer, you’re certainly going to need some routine.
So I have my first cup just after nine. Despite the fact I could probably lie in most mornings if I really wanted to, you’re only going to get out of this job what you put into it.
My daily commute is from my bed to my living room desk. So right there is the first perk to this gig: a very civilized wake-up time. No commute: there’s your second.
I start the day by checking up on a few trivial matters on the computer: the stock market; the news, sports and business sections of the BBC website, the weather. Followed by a couple of the upmost importance, like what’s trending on Twitter or whether my Fantasy Football left-back Charlie Daniels of Bournemouth got injured in training ahead of their six-pointer against Huddersfield.
After all, it’s not like anyone who works in an office does anything productive for their first 20 minutes.
I give myself till the time I finish drinking my first cup of coffee to go through all of this personal stuff. It reminds me a bit of that scene in Taxi Driver where a very young Jodie Foster who’s ‘on the game’ tells Robert de Niro he’s ‘on the clock’ and that once her newly-lit cigarette goes out, he’s had his lot.
Just without the mohawks, ‘You talking to me?” mirror soliloquy and bloodbath at the end of it all.
Anyway, no more coffee, no more nonsense.
Coffee, pen and paper. What else does a freelance betting writer need? Well… an internet connection, a laptop, keyboard, clients who pay on time…
Cup of coffee- Part 2
“When life gives you lemons, trade them for coffee”
Now fully caffeinated and alert, it’s time to get to work. Once my second cup is at my side.
Going through work e-mails involves reading feedback about previous assignments, seeing what my next ones are and exchanging a few e-mails with Project/Content Managers and Editors regarding word count, tone of voice, fees or any other queries relating to the upcoming assignments.
My main client is a Malta-based content and translations agency specialising in the iGaming industry. I’ve been with them for about two and a half years and the good thing about that is that they know what I can do and what they can expect from me.
The even better thing is that the work comes to me rather than the other way round. There are a load of freelancing websites out there where you waste endless time writing covering letters, explaining why you’re the right freelance betting writer for a particular assignment rather than someone else or entering a price bidding war for work. Only to be undercut in price by a 20 year-old starting out who is willing to do the work for a third of your going rate.
So when in work terms, the mountain comes to Mohammad, it’s a Godsend. More time penning, less time pitching.
“If elevenses wasn’t an actual meal, there wouldn’t be a name for it.”
An old favourite for elevenses.
Writing could be anything from reviewing a Casino, a Sportsbook or a particular video slot. For the freelance betting writer, the long, wordy assignment of 800+ words is a huge fillip. You’re often paid by the word and that of course includes the time taken to research. Researching for a 500-word article probably takes as long as doing so for a 1500 word one so you might as well get paid on the far longer piece.
Other written work could be writing Marketing e-mails for operators, an explanation on how to play a particular casino game like Blackjack or Roulette or writing SEO content that helps a site rank better on Google. Whatever the client needs.
I also do some proofreading, editing and translating of Portuguese to English texts for them. It’s less fun and less creative of course but you’ve got to take whatever paid work comes your way. If you think freelance writing is all existential musings, Bukowski-like short sentences and quirky pop culture references, you’ve got another think coming.
You’ll quickly find your next assignment might be done using the free Wi-Fi at your local McDonald’s because you’ve failed to make the rent for the month.
And that’s even less fun.
My other main client is a well-known betting company I used to work at. They give me one or two football or cricket betting previews a week to do. Sometimes more if there’s a big tournament going on.
Just a case of going through the team news, analysing some stats, predicting how the game might unfold and recommending a couple of bets. It all becomes second-nature to you after a while and has the added advantage of being published on a highly popular site with your name on it so it’s a good way of people getting to know about you.
I also have a couple of other ad-hoc clients who occasionally need some writing work but those requests are few and far between.
“A good lawyer knows the law; a clever one takes the judge to lunch.”
Never underestimate the importance of eating lunch at home. It’s the single biggest perk of the job.
When living office life in London I had years of the depressing experience of eating sandwiches and crisps at my desk. And in Malta it was heavy, doughy slices of pizza or pies that made my waistline wider and my wallet thinner.
The alternative is to bring in your own left-overs from the previous night’s dinner effort, although it surely can’t be healthy to eat that much microwaved food. The other option is to be ‘that guy’ who puts his ingredients in the fridge of the communal kitchen first thing in the morning in order to make his own salad at lunchtime while monopolising all the work space in the process. ‘That guy’ ends up never getting invited to anything.
The chance to prepare fresh and healthy food in the comfort of your own kitchen is therefore priceless. Some days I go down to the shops to get some fresh air and stretch my legs, other days I’ll grab something to eat while I’m out just to mix things up.
Coffee and cake
“A party without cake is really just a meeting.”
On a busy day the whole of the afternoon will be taken up researching and writing as well. Most of the time it’s pretty random as to when you’ve got the most on, although I have noted over the years that the middle of the week is generally the busiest period and as regards the time of year, August is by far the quietest. You almost might as well take the whole month off, go off somewhere with laptop in hand for the odd piece of work and recharge your batteries. Or just go to Vegas for four nights.
Now here’s the bit that no-one tells you about when it comes to being a freelance betting writer. If you can’t sell yourself and your work, then you’re not cut out for this job. Ok, if you’re so good, so well-known and so well-paid that you never have to pitch an idea for the rest of your life or acquire a new client, then good on you. You’ve made it.
But that certainly doesn’t apply to me so spare time in the afternoon is normally spent looking for new opportunities. Over coffee and cake, of course.
The writing is a piece of cake. It’s getting the business that’s the hard part.
I said I didn’t believe in freelancing websites for getting work but there are other ways. For my betting company client, I use spare time to pitch ideas for interesting articles. “Mourinho’s results have been poor and his press conferences are more and more bizarre- fancy a piece on him?” That sort of thing.
I continuously make new connections on Linkedin and search for new opportunities there by looking for new freelance jobs. I approach the Editor of betting sites I enjoy reading.
Or ones that I think leave something to be desired. After all, they’re probably going to need my writing more than The Guardian does. I inquire with friends and former colleagues if they’re in need of some good content from an experienced hand.
And once I’ve done all that, I can dedicate some time to working on my newest and most exciting project: a betting affiliate site going by the name of Betting Maestro.
If you’re interested in requesting written work by the author of this article please send an e-mail to [email protected].