I wanted to write about something that’s been on my mind lately – as it pertains to freelance writing. When you start out in freelance writing – and even a few months or a year into your freelance writing career – you probably have started reviewing blogs full of tips and tricks on writing. (Obviously – you landed here.) 🙂 But you’ve probably noticed that I’m a little different in the advice I give out, and some people ask me about that from time to time. Seeking out advice and tips for your business is a great thing – learning from others is powerful. But I’ve noticed a few things about following traditional rules – sometimes it doesn’t work.
Let me explain.
I try to do some self development every week. I think that if you’re going to do anything, you need to continually hone your skills. You should always be reading industry updates, learning new techniques, finding new marketing strategies, and so on. There are some blogs I really love, some books I’ve found helpful, and so on. But what I’ve also found is that I can waste hours upon hours reading about what other people have done – without ever really doing anything for myself.
Furthermore, I think that when you start listening to too much outside advice, you can start to question everything you are and everything you love. For instance, when I started learning about business writing and how lucrative it is, I started thinking that maybe I should get into business writing – and only business writing. But the more I followed the money, the more I left who I really was and what I really loved to write about in the dust. And then I spent a week putting together a whole marketing plan without making a dime.
Perhaps you see where I’m going with this. If you love something and you know a lot about it – particularly if you have experience in it – write about it. Even if all you do is post articles to Constant Content in the catalog or write in Yahoo! Voices, it’s still writing that can earn you money. In all the time you can spend reading and learning about how other people do business, you could probably be writing for yourself and your own business, too.
There are certain rules you really should follow; have a website, market your business, etc. These things are no brainers that you absolutely must do in order to even exist online and as a writer to the people searching for what you have.
But I really take issue with the lecture that so many people give about what type of writing sells, what type of writing should be done, and so on. Some people would lead you to believe that the only market is for white papers, corporate landing pages, direct mailers, and annual reports.
But in all reality – any industry that has text associated with it needs what you have to offer. Personally, I love to write about home, family, health, handmade business, online business, writing, weddings, and travel. Not a list of items you might think would be extremely popular. Until you realize that every home improvement store, every family doctor’s office, every craft store and online business, every wedding planner, and every travel agent, hotel, and city needs content. I also love to write about wildlife – which I usually try to wrap up in travel so I can keep things streamlined.
Here’s my bottom line: if you are trying to be a type of writer that you don’t want to be, you won’t do well at it. Period. Sure, you can train yourself to write a great CSR report. But once your writing turns into something you dread, you’ll do it less and less, you’ll try to get projects over with quickly, and you’ll drown your tears in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
Okay a gallon.
The point is, you need to do what you love because that’s what you’ll do. As a writer you are only making money when you write. And you’re only going to be inspired to write about things that inspire you!
If you have a list of 20 ideas about craft writing – write it! If you want to write about travel – do it. Seek out the opportunities that exist for what you love to write about, because they’re there. Write an eBook (or several) about what you love and publish it to Amazon Kindle.
I write tips for people starting out (or well into) their freelance writing careers based on my own personal experience. But that doesn’t mean it’s the right advice for everyone, and I would challenge you to approach every piece of advice you get outside of having a website and marketing your business as something that’s optional. Marketing needs to be done, but how you do it is up to you. If you just loathe cold calling, then create an email campaign. If you think email is impersonal and horrible, send direct mail.
You did not quit your corporate job so you could hate life at home. Right? You quite your job for the freedom that comes with actually loving what you do. So love it.
Write a lot about what you love and get really good at it and really knowledgeable about it. And then seek out opportunities to sell it. A couple of hours a week learning new skills or picking up some tips is amazing, and you should do it. But don’t drown in the sea of “this is what I have to do” and spend so much time reading about how other people do business that you stop doing yours.
Main point: do what you love, write what you love, and find a way to sell what you love. You will be happy, your clients will love you for your passion, and you’ll excel.
Until next time – happy writing!