What’s on the iPod: Two Coins by Dispatch
More snow. Friday we had about four inches. Today, close to three more, they say. I did say I love snow, so I should be thrilled. To some extent, I am. It’s coming down this morning, but then the rains arrive this afternoon and the temperatures go up. By Friday, it will be in the 60s. Oddly, I’ll miss it when it melts.
But it’s time to move on. That’s true of our writing careers, too.
So you’re sitting there, mid-February, feeling stagnant. The phone isn’t ringing, the emails aren’t getting answered, and you can just see over the rim of that rut you’re in. Time to kick it up a notch. Here are some ways to improve on what you’re doing now:
Plan it out. I love a good plan. Whether it’s jotted down on paper, plotted out in detail in Excel, or just in your head, a plan can help you grab hold of lost time, lost opportunities, and lost momentum. Want to finish that novel? Schedule that time into your day. Want to capture clients at a higher level than where you are currently? Build a marketing strategy around that goal.
Delve deeper into your subject or your project. Suppose you’ve been writing what your clients call white papers for two years now — two- to four-page advertorials that aren’t based on any real research. Why not learn what it takes to produce an actual white paper that’s based on research findings and includes lots of data to support the claims? These pay infinitely better for these, and you can’t help but improve your own writing background as a result. The same goes for what you’re writing about. Any topic can be made more in-depth with just a little brainstorming. These new ideas can be sold to higher paying magazines or pitched to other clients.
Add a new skill. Years ago, I added resume writing to my skill set. I know another writer who added press release writing. Look into new ways to bring in a steady revenue stream. Be smart about it — the reason I left resume writing was that some companies demanded too much work for too little pay. Always keep an eye on the time compared to the compensation.
Study something new. If marketing scares you, pick up a book or join a marketing course (or read a marketing blog, for that matter—you can learn nearly anything for free). If your sentence structure is a bit weak, commit to studying a grammar guide, maybe reading one section a week. There are infinite ways in which you can improve your business through learning. And you’re never too old, or too experienced, to do so.
Become proactive. If your marketing consists mostly of cruising job boards, try spending one day a week of that cruising time with locating potential clients. Send them direct emails telling them who you are, what you do, and how you can make their jobs easier. For how to write a letter of introduction, see this guest post by Paula Hendrickson.
Drop useless time sinks. When I switched from having Yahoo! as a home page to Google’s clean, news-free site, I saved countless hours. Look at those things that draw your attention — like new email notifications or Facebook updates — and find ways to eliminate the distractions.
Network. That doesn’t mean go out to a business event and pester the hell out of everyone who has ears and can’t run fast enough. It means create a conversation with other business people. Get to know them. Smile. Relax. Forget about selling to them. Just make friends and acquaintances. Then keep in touch regularly.
Be seen where clients are. For me, that’s at trade shows. For you, it could be on LinkedIn forums or on Twitter or in other publications. Hang out where your clients hang out. It’s the best way to build face and name recognition.
How do you breathe new life into your writing career?
Have you added any new skills to your resume?