Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Message for Those in Search of a Blueprint to Freelance Writing Success

There is no such thing. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s important that you realize that right away. Carson Brackney’s post goes into much more (and much better) detail than I’ll attempt to here because I’m not one to reinvent the wheel. If someone out there is doing it or saying it already, I’ll always point you in that direction. The intention of this blog, after all is to provide information that’s helpful as you build your writing business. I’m like you, working hard, building a business and sharing my personal experiences as I go.

One reason Carson’s post resonated so deeply is because I spent my first year as a freelance writer searching for that elusive blueprint – I hoped to find step-by-step instruction about how to put this thing together and make it work. I felt as if I kind of fell into it after getting my first couple of clients so quickly, and I worried my dumb luck could run out at any time.

Have you ever bought anything like oh, say a bunk bed from Ikea, and attempted to put it together with their sorry excuse for instructions? Well, that’s kind of how building a writing business was for me in the beginning. I had all the right parts and tools, but as far as instructions go I eventually came to realizeI'd have to put forth the effort to figure out how everything fit and operated.

I bought a lot of information products that were sold with big promises of unlocking the secrets of successful freelancing. Let me tell you, the Internet is completely saturated with “How to Earn a Living Freelance Writing” books and courses. Most of the information I got was very general information that’s constantly regurgitated on the Internet (although there were a couple of ebooks that I did actually find helpful when I was first starting out). I don't recommend that you go that route.

It's okay to keep right on listening to advice from the best writers out there – I recommend that you continue doing so because they do drop valuable nuggets of information. Apply the good stuff. Just keep in mind that they are not providing you with a blueprint that guarantees success.

Carson’s absolutely right when he says that at some point you have to shut out the virtual noise and figure out: 1) who YOU are as a writer; and I’ll add: 2) Know your customer. Know exactly who needs what you do and learn everything about that customer and the industry from the inside out. Find out what some of the issues are that they encounter and figure out how you can provide solutions. Make sure your message is intensely focused and speaks one-on-one with that customer – don’t try to be all things to everyone. (this is what I think Carson means when he talks about successful writers who “know the terrain”).

By all means, DON'T GIVE UP. Stick with it and when something fails to turn up the results you want, move on to another strategy. Build the business that works for YOU. You’ll find that doing things your way is much more satisfying.


Lori said...

It's a personal journey, which is tough to understand since it's a business. But everyone has unique skills, ways of learning, and access to markets. What works for me may not work for you. Frankly, I don't know too many people dying to write the stuff I write about anyway. :)

There is no tried-and-true blueprint. There are ways in which people have managed to become successful. What I will say is that I'd bet they understand how to run a business, which is probably the biggest skill we writers are lacking as a group. But that can be taught quite easily.

Kimberly Ben said...

YES, Lori - We MUST treat this as a business. I agree.

Carson Brackney said...

Wow. Thanks so much for your kind words about my post, Kimberly.

I really appreciate it.

Lori is right. You do need to figure out how to run things as a business. More specifically, you need to figure out how to run it as YOUR business. There are some basic principles that are fairly universal, but successful businesses can take a variety of forms. I believe the form most likely to work is the one that fits YOU.

Thanks again,
Carson Brackney

Kimberly Ben said...

I love it when you tell the truth, Carson. You do it so well. :)

Katrina said...

I agree, the rules change so quickly it can make your head spin. As with any new venture this too will sort the men from the boys (or women from girls - LOL)

Kimberly Ben said...

So true, Katrina!

Designed by Lena