Monday, July 26, 2010

Learning Something New

A couple of weeks ago a prospective client contacted me to find out if I had experience doing a certain type of writing I’d never tried before. Most writers have had this experience (or will) at one time or another. Your confidence in your writing ability will usually determine whether or not you decide to take on such an assignment. Is it dishonest to allude to the fact that you can handle a project you’ve never done before?

If it weren’t for pushing myself beyond the limiting force field of my comfort zone I would never have had the pleasure of taking on many of the writing projects I’ve received. I can remember the first time I was asked to create web content for someone’s website, blog posts, magazine/newspaper articles, sales letters, brochures, whitepapers, email marketing campaigns, resumes, etc. In some cases it never even occurred to me that I couldn’t write what my client needed. The confidence in my ability to give them what they wanted was automatic. But there have also been times where I’ve felt something along the lines of stage fright when asked to take on something that was completely new to me.

For me honestly is the best policy. If a client asks me about a project outside of the realm of work I’ve normally produced, I carefully assess the situation before agreeing to move forward. I’m trying to learn all that I can as a writer and the best way for me to learn something is to jump in and just do it. If a client asks whether or not I can handle it, I tell them “yes” with confidence and do the necessary research required to deliver what they expect.

Now, If they ask me whether or not I have actual experience doing a specific type of writing, I keep it honest. Depending on other factors (i.e. how much work is piled up on my desk or my own confidence in my abilities) I admit my inexperience in that area, but explain how I plan to approach the project in question to deliver the desired result. This usually provides both the client and myself with enough confidence to allow me to confidently explore a new writing opportunity.

I’ve learned that being open to accepting different writing projects has given me a much better sense of what I like and what I don’t like as far as writing projects go. I can put more effort into finding the kinds of projects I enjoy. This type of exploration has also revealed my writing strengths and weaknesses, giving me an opportunity to make improvements where necessary.

Have you ever agreed to take on writing projects you’ve never done before? How did it work out for you and your client?


Lori said...

You bet I have! I keep it real, too. I'll say "Not yet" and then compare how what I've done already translates to that job. If they're unsure, that's fine. But I've not lied and I've shown them I'm capable.

Kimberly Ben said...

Exactly, Lori. If you can back up your ability with samples and previous client testimonials, more often than not a client will be willing to give you a chance to do the job well.

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