A note before I start this post. Last Wednesday was supposed to be Words of Wisdom Wednesday. And while I did record a video, I’m totally inept and apparently deleted it when I was trying to upload it. Oops. So we’ll give it another go this Wednesday. 🙂
On to today.
Many freelance writers want to grow or expand their business and ask for advice on how to do so. Sometimes the advice is followed. Sometimes it isn’t. I can’t help but wonder why someone who receives advice that seems like it would be beneficial to their career would ignore it or not follow it. For instance, cold calling, which I’ve talked about here and will likely continue to, is a valuable method of finding new clients. For anything. Particularly for freelance writing.
Yet for some reason, people refuse to pick up the phone.
Another piece of advice that is often provided to freelance writers is to network. Go to events, carry your business card (you have a business card, right?) with your website on it (you do have one of those, too, right?) and chat people up. For instance, I am starting to delve more deeply into political writing. My degree is in politics. I like to write about politics. So I intend to start going to some mixers for the political part with which I am affiliated in my area. Why not, right?
Yet writers will randomly be busy, or have another excuse for not going.
I started thinking about this odd truth lately and began to wonder just how it is that freelance writers who want to succeed do not take some of the most critical steps to gain that success. And then I started thinking about why I didn’t take those steps to start out with.
Cold calling is scary on the face of it. A lot of people believe that cold calling is the most nausea-invoking thing you can do during business hours. (I know a couple of sushi restaurants that would rival that statement, but I digress.) But in reality, what are you really afraid of?
I think, just maybe, we’re afraid of success.
Bear with me. Just think about it for a second.
Let’s say you pick up the phone, you call a business you’ve deemed to be worthwhile, you give your pitch, and let’s say they say no. What do you do? Well, you hang up, of course. No harm done. It’s slightly disappointing. But who really freaks out when they get a “no”? Trust me, I used to do telemarketing for a living, if I got paid per time I heard some variation of “no”, I’d be rich. It’s expected.
But let’s say you call a business, give them your intro or ask your question, and they say “Yes, what do you have to offer, we’re looking for a blogger.”
What kind of horror and panic would overcome you then? In a flurry of paper you would likely fumble over everything on your desk, knock over your coffee, and probably forget every word you’ve learned since about second grade and sound like an idiot, right?
I am firmly convinced that it’s not the “no” we’re afraid of, it’s the “yes”.
What happens if we get a yes? What do we say? How do we go from there? What do we really offer? Do you know your pricing?
The same goes at any network event, social gathering, or any type of action that might gain you an instant yes.
Nobody is concerned about emailing. If you get an email back, you simply take the time to compose a response and send it off. Great. But in person, it’s likely that you’ll fumble when you land a client.
Why? We don’t prepare for success. We don’t get our script out for what to say in a successful sales call. We assume that we will get a no.
If we’re assuming that we will get a no, why should anyone say yes?
I think success is a huge responsibility. I’m not some hugely successful writer yet. I’ll admit it. And what I’ll also admit is that the thought of being widely successful and popular scares the you know what out of me. It’s a lot of responsibility. If you have no reputation, you can’t ruin it. If nobody knows you, they can’t judge you. If you’re not published, nobody can reject your theory. And on it goes.
Success is putting our work on the big screen. Success is people knowing who we are. Success is being able to say yes, I’m a freelance writer for a living. And the more we have of it, the more we have to lose. The farther we can fall. The more people will see us fall if things go amiss.
I know this is a little deep, even for me, but I also think it’s really true. I believe if all writers spent time every day envisioning success and what it would look like, we would start planning for success. My workspace is not set up for major success. The way I structure my day is not set up for major success. How I dress every day is not how I would dress if I thought I could get called up to go to a client meeting at any moment. Why not?
Here’s a little exercise I’m going to do this coming week, and I think you should, too.
As a writing exercise (which we could always use, right?) I’m going to write down, in no conservative terms, what super duper success looks like for me. In detail. Then I’m going to write up how I would set up my day, like a business plan of sorts, but less formal, if this fantasy life were my own. Take some time and really visualize my wildly successful life. Make notes about how I go about my business in this life.
Then I’m going to compare these notes to what I’m currently doing.
I think that undergoing this simple exercise will be wildly beneficial.
There’s an old phrase out there that says “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
I think an implication can be taken from that to freelance writers or any solopro.
Conduct your business for the level of success you want. And watch things change.
Don’t be afraid of success. And don’t be afraid of failure. Be afraid of never realizing your potential because you were so afraid.
Until next time, happy writing!