Writing Niches

The goal for me is to highlight my writing niches — the things I specialize in when I’m putting together articles, blog posts, marketing material and the like. There’s a bit of a Catch-22 here, where publications and potential clients want to see your writing in their niche, but you can’t produce writing until you get a gig from a client. You can write for free, but that defeats the purpose of a lot of writing. You’re writing to earn money from your talent, and there’s no shame in that.

You can't get a job without experience... and you can't get experience without a job.

The book that keeps on giving.

 

But I’m not starting from scratch. I have been writing for a while, and plenty of my work is here on my site. The next step is to increase the number of publications and clients available to me, and for that I’ll need to network, build those relationships. This also is not a good way to bring in cash quickly, as you need time to build up the relationships, you need to provide help to people without expecting anything in return. Networking meetings are one option, though I’m not sure how they’re supposed to work:

  1. The free ones are a get together over drinks, where you wander around and trade business cards. Everyone there wants a job, and everyone else knows it, but you can’t come right out and beg for a job. You’re there to “meet people.”
  2. The paid ones are extremely expensive, limited to one person per industry, and (at least based on the times I’ve been to those meetings as a guest), a time to socialize (aka “meet people”). There never seems to be people actually giving one another leads. I’m not sure what they’re paying for. It’s like a fraternity, with less hazing and more coffee.

Thanks to the internet there’s also passive networking via forum posting and podcasts (and blogs, as long as they’re regularly updated).  Time to concentrate on my niches, and “meet people.”

Buyer Personas: Values & Fears

What do my customers want and what are they worried about?

Values

A value isn’t the same thing as a goal for a client.  A value is what’s important in general, not a specific thing that the client wants to accomplish. Think of adjectives (dependable, open-minded, passionate). So what are my buyers looking for?

Reliability: They want a writer who can say something consistently. Having material to work with, like a document written by a client, is a great way to get even more material written (because you can spend less time preparing). At the same time, you want a client who is reliable, and offer works (and payment!) regularly.

Creativity: Some clients want you to rewrite their material, put in what they ask and nothing more. In that case you’re of a typist or transcriber than a writer (though sometimes a phrase is just not workable at all). A lot of times, though, you get to decide how to say what’s being said.

Communicative: I have worked in a grocery store as a clerk, and in a financial services business as an agent. Totally different tasks and activities. In each job, though, you have to talk to someone. A lot more people as a store clerk (all those customers and co-workers, managers) than as an agent associate (maybe the help desk, and the agent who assigns responsibilities).

Fears

“Fears” is an exaggeration. I don’t think people are necessarily afraid of anything in the business world (except not making any money), so it’s probably better to call it “hesitations.” That’s more realistic — it’s the things that keep them from trying new things in their business, hiring new people, launching new products. The big two are:

Hesitation of Loss: No one wants to lose money. Starting a new venture can be risky, and there’s no end to the research available about the best ways to offer a product or service, down to the best font to use on a blog post. The way to overcome that hesitation is by offering something, having a track record. If you have no track record, but people won’t try you without a track record… well, that Catch-22 is the eternal question.

Hesitation of Approval: It’s wise to consult different sources when getting ready to take action, like experts in the field, family and friends. The hesitation there is in whose opinion matters. Can a writer overcome this hesitation? Not directly, but finding research that supports the writer’s contributions to the project means the writer ends up with more contributions to the project.

 

Scheduling My Writing

I’m able to spend more time with my writing these days, even “writing ahead”  little bit as I work on pieces to be published this summer. Now that it’s April, I’ve already seen three articles in Kalamazoo Women’s Lifestyle, which I “marketed” to the people I wrote about. I’m also blogging about it and mentioning it on social media, though much more occasionally than I should.

Schedules that I’ve seen from other writers have a set time to write, a set time to research and a set time to query for more writing. The challenge is to find time for all of those things, and stick to it — there’s always other errands to do, and it’s my “curse” to enjoy hobbies I want to spend time on.

Selling My Words

Sales-type blog posts have so many guidelines: use sub-headlines (like “Selling My Words”), write to bullet points (aka “clickbait”), and make outbound links to other sites, to build up relationships. Personal blogs, diary-style blog posts (like this one here) are read, but not stumbled on as often, so they have to be promoted differently: as forum signatures, and in social media.

A lot of this information is already out there with a simple web search. Putting it into practice is what each person has to do for themselves. For me, that’s promoting myself. I’ve been interviewed a few times, for radio and in front of classrooms, and I’ve found it’s easier to do the interviewing. I wonder if celebrities ever ask themselves why someone cares about everything they do (answer: yes).

Well, look at it this way: I have things to say, lists of them, that I look at whenever I need an idea. I do want to be seen, because I have ideas that I want to contribute, plus, bloggers I read and podcasters I listen to say opportunities have opened up simply by putting their words out into the public world. That’s what I need to do… that, and the fact that I’ve already received emails and heard from people who have looked my work up online. I’m already out there. I just need to go farther.