The Business of Writing: Are You In?

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For many of us who write for a living—either on the side or as a full-time career—there have been times when we’ve wanted to stand on a rooftop and shout to the top of our lungs, “I’M IMPORTANT, TOO!” Unlike engineers or architects or surgeons or other professionals who are viewed as being able to do those amazing things that the rest of us can’t even begin to understand, writers are often viewed as a commodity. I mean, everyone can write—right? Uh—no. They can’t. But, you can. So, how do you command fees that reflect the value of what you do and the experience you have? And how to you gain the level of respect that other elite professionals seem to obtain so easily? You do it by rethinking what it means to be a freelance copywriter or business writer. Simple? Not necessarily. Possible? You better believe it.

I’ve started The Page-Turner Mission because I believe that—as copywriters and business writers—we have something unique to offer to our clients. We are the storytellers of the world. We tell the stories of businesses, of organizations, of causes, of people. And that’s an incredibly powerful skill—one that you can leverage both financially and professionally—when you start thinking like an entrepreneur rather than a struggling artist.

Not long ago, I was sitting in a breakout session of freelance writers at a conference. I went into it thinking I was going to hear about all of the interesting ways my fellow freelancers were marketing themselves, making a difference in the lives and businesses of their clients, and finding new revenue streams in our ever-expanding digital world. But—it didn’t take long for my expectations to be dashed, stomped on and swept out the door. Most of what I heard from this talented group of folks included comments like these:

“I love what I do, but I really don’t think I’ll ever be able to make a decent living chasing down freelance gigs.”

“There are SO many writers out there. I’m just one more—so why should anyone choose me over the others?”

“No matter what I do, I just can’t seem to find clients who really appreciate what I do. Instead, they’re always trying to get me to go lower on my fees.”

For me, it felt like a great big therapy session full of people who would rather whine about how everything sucks rather than taking an honest look at what they were doing and searching for solutions that would lead them to a better place. Instead of leaving that session feeling like I had made a whole bunch of new connections—I left feeling like I had heard a secret that they hadn’t. And that “secret” is that freelance writers can make a damn good living if they’re talented AND if they:

• Promote themselves based on the benefits they provide their clients rather than the commoditized product (writing) they’re selling.

• Look for projects in markets that are used to paying (and are willing to pay) higher feeds.

• Consistently, diligently and strategically market themselves through a variety of channels and platforms.

• Developing a strong lead generation program and process.

• Remain open to new ways of using their writing skills to create revenue streams.

• Shift their mindset from one of “I’m just a struggling writer” to one where they know it’s possible to make a great living (think six figures) with their words.

• Find ways to provide value to clients beyond just writing.

Here at The Page-Turner Mission, we’re going to be exploring these areas (as well as others) and finding ways to get really good at each of them. One of the really great things about being a writer is that you’re always learning something new. There’s a lot of “new” for us to test drive out there. New strategies. New tactics. New ideas. Different things will work for different people when it comes to building your business. And, together, we’ll find out what those things are and how we can help each other create the Page-Turner careers and lives we’re meant to have.

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