At the time, I viewed working at the movie theatre as just a job. It was a way to fund my post-secondary education and to earn some play money. Looking back now, I’m starting to recognize that those experiences really did help prepare me to run my own freelance writing business.

What could popping popcorn and writing product reviews possibly have in common? Let’s see.

Learn to Do Everything

Since it was a smaller, single screen movie theatre, they couldn’t afford to hire dedicated staff for each position. Instead, each employee would take on different roles at different times. I was trained as a box office cashier, ticket taker, concession worker, barista, concession cashier, cleanup crew, washroom attendant… with the exception of managerial duties, I really had to do it all.

Today, as a freelance writer, I similarly wear many hats. Yes, I write content, but I’m also the customer service agent, the marketing agent, the social media expert, the accountant, the legal department, the human resources representative… everything that has to do with running the business falls under my jurisdiction. Working at the theatre taught me to be adaptable and versatile.

Upselling and Suggestive Selling

We had a “membership” program at the theatre that we were supposed to promote. There were occasional rewards for achieving sales targets, so working the box office not only meant selling tickets, but it also meant selling our “guests” on the benefits of the membership program. Similarly, upselling and suggestive selling were highly encouraged for the concession. “It’s only 50 cents more to get a large soda. Would you like a chocolate bar to go with your popcorn?”

For better or for worse, an integral part of professional writing is selling your services. Someone may approach me for blog writing, but I may notice that they could use a press release too. Perhaps the client needs help with social media or maybe some copywriting is required for other parts of the site.

Stretch My Boundaries

As with most other people, I’m not completely comfortable speaking in front of an audience. Even so, I would oftentimes be tasked with the “Front of House” announcements at the theatre. I’d remind the moviegoers of the locations of the emergency exits and I’d tell them to turn off their cell phones. Perhaps I’d have a prize to give away.

In my freelancing, I constantly step outside my comfort zone. It was because of this mentality that I chose to be a featured speaker at Freelance Camp, for instance. By stretching my boundaries, I expand my opportunities.

Enjoy the Perks

Work is work. It can be fun sometimes, but it can also be quite trying, stressful and exhausting. And that’s why it’s important to enjoy the parts that make it worthwhile. As an employee of the movie theatre, I got to watch a lot of free movies. As a freelance writer, I get to work on my own schedule and choose my projects.

Every job has its perks and every job can offer its lessons. The onus is on you to discover both.