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How Writers Can Easily Up-Skill
What does this year hold in store for writers? Well, it’s mainly good news...
Writing for a living has never been this exciting and easy. From self-publishing to blogging, the online revolution has resulted in a multitude of ways for writers to develop their skills, make more money, and improve their career-life balance.
Whether you are new to writing, or are embarking on a second-phase career, here are some ways that you can make the most of your writing skills and develop as a wordsmith this year.
Diversify or Specialize
There are two distinct ways that you can re-invigorate your writing career:
- Niche way down and become a specialist in a specific industry, technique, or tactic
- Diversify and don’t become a one-trick pony — open the door to new ways of wielding your pen.
Both ways have their pros and cons — and which one you go for will depend on where you are with your career. Becoming a specialist is a wise move for early career writers who need to make their mark, whereas diversification can help steer a more established writing business into new territory.
Both specialization and diversification rely on you making the most of yourinnate talent and skills, but you’ll also need to invest in some marketing to make the most of what you’ve got. Embrace the challenge of making your writing services the best they can be and find new ways to tackle familiar subjects.
Find a Mentor
Mentors are an undervalued resource in the writing world, which is a real shame. Mentors help you develop both personally and professionally, and are often a great source of invaluable advice. As 2018 looms, there is a renewed push towards community and networking — so make the most of it and reach out to potential mentors NOW.
“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” — Oprah Winfrey (more quotes here).
The number one mentorship success factor? It’s your attitude! A mentor is someone who can help you stay accountable and develop your skills in a supportive manner, but they are not there to solve your problems for you. They can’t be held hostage or blamed for your errors. Engaging with a mentor is about accepting a need for development in a mature and open-minded way — it’s about going on a journey of self-discovery, as well as honing your writing skills.
Get More Technical
True technical writing comes down to mastering technical vocabulary and all its variables.
Technical writers are always in-demand, as it takes dedication and discipline to master a technical writing skill-set. If you are interested in the more technical aspects of your industry, and have the patience to spend some more time training and learning, it makes sense to go after more technically demanding briefs. (Especially as they tend to be well-paid).
Technical writers are often brought in as consultants and editors, which can be a lucrative career side-line for writers who want to get away from just producing content.
In today’s marketplace, technology is everywhere. Writers who can make the most of emerging technology will be able to harness its power, rather than be pushed to side and having to watch others benefit from it. Be proactive in your approach to technology.
Hone Your Business Skills
Creativity and business are a great match (no, really). Creative writers and authors can get a lot out of mastering core business disciplines like negotiating, relationship management, financial skills, leadership skills, and even financial forecasting!
Writers who approach their writing discipline in the same way that a talented business leader coaches and betters his team, are more likely to see success in 2018.
Does being a more business-oriented writer seem like a big challenge? Here are some simple ways to get started:
- Get super slick with your invoicing so you won’t ever have to have that awkward ‘chase’ chat with a client again (there are apps that can help you automate chasing)
- Refresh your brand to reflect current trends and aesthetic tastes (writers have the tendency to be a bit too ‘old school’ with their branding)
- Read some business management and leadership books — there are some powerful lessons in there for writers. Start with a classic like The Art of War.
Create a Brand
Rather than just your name and a photo, why not give prospective clients a whole brand to sink their teeth into? A clever pun, witty wordplay, or compelling character can help quickly and effortlessly communicate ‘what you’re all about’. For a writer, clever copy and credibility are a must — but don’t be afraid to be a bit more creative than that.
A brand will make your whole writing operation seem and feel much more professional, and can help you (and clients) get some much-needed critical distance.
A common branding mistake people make is to focus too much on themselves — but a brand should all be about how you want prospective clients and customers to see you.
Writers who are in the marketing or journalism space will know all about personal branding. It’s a no-brainer to have a good personal brand when you’re dealing with important people from around the world.
Launch Your Own Creative Side Hustles
Writers often make other people rich, without seeing much of the monetary success themselves. Don’t get side-lined — launch your own business endeavors to help you develop as a writer and a professional.
Blogging is a no-brainer for writers, and managing your own blog is a fun way to blow off creative steam. But for those who want more of a challenge in 2018, buying and running an ecommerce business is a fantastic way to really put yourself to the test. Writing scintillating product copy and creating a brilliant brand story should be easy for a copywriter — if you have the right words, you will have no problem making the sales!
Another great route to consider is launching your own podcast, or finally getting round to finishing that ebook. Making tangible content products that your audience rely on is a source of massive satisfaction and pride (not to mention recurring income).
Being a writer is a rewarding and challenging career path. From frequent deadlines and late nights, to tricky clients — I know a copywriter or two with gray hair! That’s why it’s important that you spend time developing yourself and embracing new skills and challenges. Let’s see what this year has in store for us all...
About the Author
Professional writer turned ecommerce entrepreneur, Vicky hails from the windy city. She loves nothing more than to chat about all things content and marketing on her blog Victoria ecommerce.