Monday, March 22, 2010

Blaze Your Own Trail

I’m not too proud to admit that when I was getting my freelancing business off the ground I didn’t really know what I was doing. I realized that I needed to do something; take some actual action steps; but I had no real direction or concept of where this whole writing thing would take me.

One of the worst mistakes I made early on was trying to emulate other writers who were having success. I’d look to them for ideas and direction on how to set up and run my own business, from my website to my marketing message.

Inspiration is one thing, but what works for one person is not necessarily the best thing for you. Even if you both offer similar services. In fact, it’s much more important that you learn how to stand out from the crowd and show potential clients the unique benefits of contracting your services.

They say “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Well, maybe there’s some truth to that, but it won’t do you a lot of good if you don’t know what makes you as a writer and the services you provide special. How will you effectively market that message to prospects if even you don’t know what you offer?

I’m fortunate to have many working writers to look toward when I need an inspiration or motivation boost. But I don’t want to come off as a carbon copy or poor imitation of someone else. I’d rather carve out my own success built on a steady foundation of my own hard work and individuality.


Jean said...

I agree, Kim, yet I think following the "masters" is a great way to get started. Follow their successes. See how they do it and try it yourself. Even artists learn how to paint by "copying" the greats.

Once you feel more comfortable you'll almost automatically start to differentiate yourself, depending on your skills and desires.

For example, I write SEO articles, etc. but I'm working on branching out to offering some online marketing services to local businesses in my area. E-mail marketing, for example. By going local, I'll differentiate my niche -- and I'll also get out of the house.....

This is something that appeals to my somewhat gregarious nature. A shy writer would totally balk.

But I never would have come this far if I hadn't looked at and somewhat followed the tactics and strategies of a few well-established, successful SEO writers as I started out.

Kimberly Ben said...

That's a good point, Jean, and I do agree that when you're first starting out, and part of the research process involves learning from those who are already living "the dream." But I think it's also important to recognize your own ability and not look for someone else to be your blueprint to success.

Lori said...

There were times I wished I could follow the successful ones around - just for a day - to see what they're doing that I'm not that could help. But it's all about consistency in whatever method we choose, isn't it?

Some ideas work, some don't. Oddly, what works today could stop working tomorrow. As long as you're sticking with ANY kind of method - scattered or not - you're one step ahead of those who don't even try.

Kimberly Ben said...

I totally agree with your comment about consistency, Lori. Very good advice!

Carson Brackney said...

Consistency is good when you're right. It's a killer when you're wrong. No use in consistently repeating anything that isn't generating an acceptable/optimal return.

Love the post, by the way. There are soooooooo many ways to make this writing thing work. Finding your own place and approach is the way to go.

You keep what works and try to improve it. You either fix or dump the stuff that doesn't. In the meantime, you keep looking at all of the other people out there who seem to have a clue for ideas about how to find new approaches and to make those decisions and improvements. That's my strategy, anyway!

Kimberly Ben said...

You're right, Carson - focus on what works and toss whatever methods don't. That's where tracking and measuring strategies come into play. Very important or you end up wasting lots of precious time.

There is certainly nothing wrong with keeping an eye on those who do what they do well and get results. It makes for a great learning and growing experience. But there is a line that's best not crossed.

Jamie said...

I just wanted to pop in and thank you for the great post, and blog. I'll be returning often!

As a new freelancer, I can say that it's so comforting to know that there are places and people you can turn to on the web that freely share their experiences. It can be quite overwhelming when you're starting out trying to figure out exactly how to make everything work.

One of my problems is patience, or a lack thereof rather. There's so much to learn, and I feel like I need to know it all now, but I try to listen to that tiny little voice in the back of my mind that continually reminds me that it just takes time. Time and more blogs like this one.

Once again, thanks and keep up the good work.

Kimberly Ben said...

Hi Jamie and than you for taking time to comment. I can totally relate with you about how overwhelming things can seem when you're just getting started. There's a learning curve, easier for some than others depending on prior experience, but a learning curve as you learn how to make a living as a freelance writer nonetheless.

Patience is important. I suspect impatience causes many to quit before they have a chance to see the fruits of their labor (I know I've even pondered it at one time). But I'm too stubborn to give up, lol.

Thanks again for sharing such a kind complement.

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