I have read many pieces of writing advice I don’t necessarily agree with. I am not saying that all the writing advice out there is bad, but when I began my own writing career, there was a lot of information I bought into that I just no longer agree with.
One of my top complaints is when it is stressed that you need to find a niche. Maybe that was what worked for some, but I found that if you narrow your choices of topics, you will only lose out on quite a few assignments.
No one can write about all topics. I wrote about struggling with my first ever assignment where I was supposed to write for a financial marketing firm. I didn’t know enough about the topic they wanted me to write about. Even after researching it, the topic was just too technical for me.
Since that initial assignment, I have written about Waterjet Systems, Real Estate, QR Codes, Landscaping, Construction, A Car Dealership Program, Retirement and more. I have a fairly diverse portfolio of topics. The majority of my clients are marketing and PR companies. Because of the wide range of clients they take on, they need someone who can write about all sorts of things.
To be able to write about so many topics, you need these three skills:
- You need to ask good questions. I send out questionnaires for clients to fill out. I ask questions like, what are you looking to accomplish in this article? Or I’ll ask, what are the most important points that you want mentioned?
- You need to be a good researcher. I look up the subject matter and read up on the basics of what the topic is really all about. You also need to be quick at getting your answers. No one will be too thrilled if you charge several hours of researching fees.
- You also need to know when a topic is seriously out of your element and pass on it. At that point, you aren’t helping yourself and don’t want to damage your reputation because of a poorly written article.
- Finally, I don’t think that having a “niche” is as important as understanding what types of tone you are able to take on. Maybe you are great at writing in a personal tone, but have difficulty writing in a very technical format. I would say that the tone you can give to a writing piece is much more important to know than worrying about having a niche to write about.
The other piece of advice that just drives me crazy is to, wait until you have a good size amount of savings before you jump into a career as a writer. Of course I am not suggesting that you and your family struggle and have no food on the table. Sure, have some money socked away. I will tell you this though, there will never be a “perfect” time to jump into a writing career. I believe the quicker you see success depends a lot on how badly you need that success.
When I went into writing full-time, I felt that I had to make it work. At the time, I was having difficulty maintaining a traditional job because of my fibromyalgia. I needed to find a job where I could sit, stand, walk around or sleep when I needed to. I felt that pursuing a writing career was my only option . I had no choice. I had to make it work. There was no savings, but my husband was working and we were managing (barely) on just his income.
When I started out, I was working seven days a week and 8 - 10 hours most days. I would work before my kids got up for school, all day while they were in school and even more after they went to bed. There were even days where my husband took over so that I could work in the evening while the kids were still awake.
My point is, if you really want a career as a writer, you just have to do it. It doesn’t matter what other people have to say about the pitfalls. Everyone will have their rough moments. No two people will have the same experiences either. As you pursue your dream, you will stumble and but you will also learn. It’s just part of the process of learning how to work for yourself.
If you are looking for some inspiration, you must check out this interview with Jon Morrow. This is one of the best interviews I have seen. Jon Morrow does an excellent job of explaining his thought pattern as he created the success you are all so familiar with.
I wish everyone who dreams of a writing career tons of success. There is room out there for all of us. Just take the leap and enjoy the thrill of going after your dream.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]
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