Copywriting for bitcoin and the work for free

A few years ago, when I was starting out as a copywriter,  I was approached by a zany, exuberant, slightly menacing man—imagine Doc from Back to the Future—about a new venture. We met in a pub in Camden and he started talking about a new type of currency set to change the world. It was called bitcoin.

Doc was a bitcoin broker and contacted me to write all his company’s marketing materials in exchange for, you guessed it, bitcoin. At the time, bitcoin was a whisper, a concept, something you heard of but didn’t really understand. So I decided to pass on the offer.

I was reminded of this decision in an article in today’s Telegraph (08/11/17)

“It took 1,789 days for bitcoin to go from $0 to $1,000, 1,271 days for $1,000 to $2,000, and just 13 days between $6,000 and $7,000, its latest milestone.”

Do I regret my decision? 

Many copywriters work for free or peanuts when starting out.  However, I wasn’t at a stage in my copywriting career when I wanted to take risks. I had a portfolio to build and real, tangible, rent-paying money to earn.

If the same opportunity presented itself today, I’d be all over it. I recently worked for a company specialising in high-quality sound systems that offered to pay me in product: a short video script in exchange for a £300 sound bar. I gladly accepted and now enjoy lovely surround sound every evening. No regrets at all.

However, not everyone has a good experience. A designer pal of mine designed a logo and brand comms for an Australian nutrition company in exchange for equity in their company. Unfortunately for him, after six months of hard work, the company couldn’t get funding and went down under (pardon the pun)—leaving him equity in zilch.

The return should be more than financial

Is it an industry you want to work in, or a company you want to associate with? Will it highlight your creativity? What’s the time commitment versus reward? Unfortunately for my friend, he wasted six months that he’ll never get back. He didn’t particularly enjoy working on the job, and the financial stress took a toll on his emotional wellbeing. If I’d accepted the bitcoin job I’d be laughing now, but it would’ve taken a long time to see a return and caused a lot of stress.

But if I could speak to my younger self today, I’d say go for it! Life is about taking risks, especially when you’re young and have nothing to lose.





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