This-Is-A-Post

This Is A Post

Creatives can only succeed if they are consistent

Even if it is to serve yourself, to improve your thinking, take the time to share your voice. Your voice matters. Someone will eventually hear what you have to say and whether or not they agree with you—the creator’s mission is to have their work be read, heard, digested.

 

The ideal case is that through each post that you share, you gain one new follower. However, you can invest five years of your life to a craft only to have 30 committed fans. Depending on how fulfilling the work is (and if you’re planning to live off of your work) will determine whether or not you should continue pursuing success.

 

And success is a vague term. Depending on what your work is, what it entails, 30 fans (committed customers) can feed you for a year if you can get them to value your work at $1,000 a product (imagine a book or course costing that much).

 

Just remember that you can pursue a craft for years without anyone caring about it. You can commit to something and not make a cent. Yet, if you are happy in the struggle then you are still winning.

 

People are reading less and less. That doesn’t stop me from writing. I’m certain that the 30 people who read this blog (or at least click on a link to have the page load) gain something of value from my words. Those are the people I write for. In the event that they stop reading, then I suppose I’m writing for myself.

 

Things could be worse.

 


Image Credit: Unsplash

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job-search-2021

A New Transition: Preparing For My Job Search In 2021

Even if the event doesn’t come to pass, create action steps ahead of time

I’m afraid of my prospects when searching for a job in 2021. Just in March of 2020 alone, we saw a loss of over 700,00 jobs. Regardless of the industry, I’m certain that some of the people who were laid off were working in marketing.

 

Next year I will be competing with both new graduates, established professionals, and everyone who is just as (if not more) hungry as me for an opportunity to work for a team and to grow their brand. So the question is, “How do I position myself to stand out? How do I make myself more useful than my competition?”

 

I believe the first step in answering these two questions is to keep an abundance-mindset. Even though it seems as if there is little to go around and that jobs are and will be scarce, with enough creativity and content, I am sure I will have something to show. And that is what I need to focus on, what we should all focus on—showing our ideas, our thoughts and opinions.

 

We need to look past the resume

A resume will not be enough this year. And a resume won’t hold up against another 100 similar ones. A resume can’t hold up to an applicant tracking system that will mark it invalid if it is missing a certain number of “vital keywords.” What will hold up and stand the test of time is a personal brand that is both authentic and exciting. There’s no need to fake it till you make it, but we have to consider what is unique to us.

 

I’ll be focusing more and doubling down on my writing, since I consider it to be the skill I’m best at and best known for. Aside from other skills I have and new ones I’m adding to my tool belt, I’m also putting an emphasis on being as slow as possible. There is no need to rush my job search, rushing is how mistakes happen. If I don’t rush, I’m certain that jobs will come to me—making this process easier.

 

If I believe there is an abundance of opportunity out there, it will put my mind in a better place to find a solution to my problem. Let’s see what happens.

 


Image Credit: Unsplash

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Do You Want To Get Paid For Your Writing Services? Here’s What You Need To Know

Business owners still need writers for their marketing

The first step in getting paid for your writing services is understanding that people will pay you. There are clients out there who want to save time and hire a professional writer to create content and sales copy. Video creators, graphic designers, and other freelancers certainly have it easier when starting out because their work does require the use of more tools and seems more difficult than simply writing.

 

Some business owners do believe that they don’t need to hire a professional writer—that they can just do it themselves. Just remember that these business owners are never going to be your clients.

 

The clients you are searching for have already acknowledged that they need to hire a professional if they want their marketing to be optimized and effective. The real challenge that you will have is figuring out where to find them. Once you do that, then all you need to do is sell yourself.

 

I suggest using these places to find your first set of clients:

  • Facebook Groups
  • Craigslist
  • AngelList
  • LinkedIn job search (and hashtag search)
  • Monster
  • Ziprecruiter
  • And good ol’ Google

 

There are a ton of websites and platforms online that provide job postings for freelance writers. You may need to do some spec work in the beginning, either working for free or taking on writing gigs that pay $0.03 per word just to start building a portfolio. However, after four to five assignments you can definitely start charging by the project or by the hour.

 

What you don’t want to do is start searching in the wrong places. You definitely don’t want to focus your efforts on finding work through platforms like UpWork, Fiverr, or Guru. Although these platforms make the search for clients faster, they incentive that you price your services as low as possible. They also take a cut from what you make. The better approach is to do the hard work yourself and create a dedicated time in your schedule to manually search for clients.

“But what if I just can’t seem to get clients? I have no experience.”

 

The best way to showcase your writing style, even without a portfolio, is to create a blog. By creating a blog, and ideally an entire website, you are not only showcasing your ability to write clearly and persuasively—you are also showcasing your ability to promote your ideas. Clients want to see that you can provide more than copy or content writing, your competition definitely has more to offer than that.

 

It’s important to write as much as possible, as websites that publish 16 posts a month get more traffic than those that post weekly. Writing every day is a great strategy as it pushes you to explore more topics and creates a set schedule for you to practice your craft. Your prospective clients can use your blog as an alternative to a portfolio, especially if the client doesn’t need you to have years of writing experience.

There are ways to get exposure

What if you want your clients to come to you? The best way to start getting projects coming into your email inbox or LinkedIn messages is to collaborate. Guest posting is a sure-fire way to get people’s attention. If you have publications that you’ve written for on your website, it validates you as a professional and it makes you more attractive to clients.

 

It is difficult to start guest posting for websites like Forbes, FastCompany, Wired, or Mashable but, it is not impossible. I’m personally going through this stage of my freelance writing journey myself.

 

I have to note that it is best to start with guest posting on small publications that can be found on Medium. At the very least, even if you don’t immediately get incoming leads for your services by guest posting, it will increase the overall traffic that you get on your website.

Save yourself time by learning how to structure your business

As a freelancer, you run a business. You will have to be responsible for every aspect of that business, from how to get your clients to how you charge them. One thing I definitely recommend you do is to create a client questionnaire to ensure you understand the scope of work before taking on any project—especially your first project.

 

A client questionnaire can help you understand what is required of you and it can help you know if:

  1. You’re qualified to take on the work,
  2. How much time you’ll need to dedicate to the project,
  3. If this client is worth your time,
  4. And if you will benefit from the experience.

 

I put a list of questions I ask my prospective clients below. I don’t ask them all of these questions during the first interaction but, I make sure that all of them get answered before I begin tackling any project.

Questions to ask before submitting a bid or proposal

  • What are the specifications of this project and when do you want it to begin?
  • What is your preferred method of communication?
  • What is your payment method?
  • What are the hard deadlines for this project? Do you need me to set up the specific dates for each deliverable?
  • Have you worked with freelance copywriters before?

Questions to ask before the work begins

  • Can you describe your business in 50 words or less?
  • Who is your target customer (age, gender, location, job role, etc.)?
  • What do you want people to do when they visit your site? What is the #1 thing?
  • What are the key features of your product or service?
  • Describe your current process for making a sale?
  • What are your current content assets?
  • Do you have direct competitors?
  • Can you list any pieces of content, websites, or profiles that are similar to what you are hoping to achieve from this project?
  • How many people from your team will be involved in the feedback process for my copywriting?
  • If the copy/content is published online, may I get a live link to my site?
  • Will I be allowed to use this piece as a sample in my portfolio?

 

And let’s not forget the documents that you will need to make to make sure you get paid without any hassles. Most contracts, invoices, and other freelancer necessities can be found online as templates. You do not need to (nor should you) make anything from scratch. Just Google “Freelancer contract/Freelance invoice/Freelance proposal/etc. template” and there will be a ton of sites that provide them for free!

There will be a learning curve

If you feel like you aren’t confident enough to write content or create sales copy for a business, there are many resources available so that you can start learning. Youtube is my favorite resource, as there are hundreds of copywriting and content writing professionals who are promoting their expertise by teaching other writers.

 

There are obviously books that can also help you too, my favorite being On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King.

 

Whichever resource you use, just know that you shouldn’t use the fear of being too inexperienced as an excuse to not get started. I blogged for five years before ever getting paid for a word I wrote. Yet, those years of not getting paid taught me and I am certain your learning curve will be much faster than mine.

 

If there is anything that you take from this article just know that you can get paid for the words you write—you just have to use the tools and advice from other successful freelance writers and take action.

 

If you simply start by setting up a blog (you can start writing for free both on LinkedIn and Medium), you’ll be well on your way to becoming a professional writer.

 

To give you some extra help, here’s a list of resources I use to keep my skills up-to-date and to help me grow as a freelancer:

 


Image Credit: Unsplash

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Focus On Owning The Category: A Not-So-New Approach To Building Your Personal Brand

Promote A Category, Not Your Name

The purpose of a slogan is to promote a brand that your prospective customer can identify with. You want the slogan and eventually your brand’s name to become so synonymous with the product or service that you’re selling, that you become generic.

 

Band-Aid is a company that sells bandages. Scotch Tape is a company that sells tape. When you hear the phrase, “Just Do It,” Nike is the first thing that comes to mind. When you hear these brands’ names, they appear to be the most generic in their categories: bandages, tape, and shoes. They own these categories.

 

These companies don’t only focus on promoting their logos, they focus on promoting the utility of their product categories. That’s what we all need to do if we are seeking to expand the reach of our personal brands. Thinking of ourselves as large corporations, it is better for us to promote the category of services rather than our brands themselves.

 

To give an explicit example, Tim Ferriss explains in  Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, that he focused on selling the category of Lifestyle Design. He did this so successfully that after the launch of his book, The 4-Hour Workweek, many other copycats came out of the woodwork. Now there are thousands of people who promote themselves as lifestyle designers on Youtube and Instagram.

 

Now we may not be as lucky as Tim in both owning and creating a phrase that ends up becoming a whole category of service providers, but we can learn something from his approach. Your prospective customer is being sold to every minute of every day. They aren’t only being sold to by your direct competitors, hundreds of other brands outside of your industry are also trying to get their attention.

 

Instead of doing what everyone else does and promoting your services as, “Look what I can do for you,” the better approach is, “Look what this type of service can do for you.” You come off as more educational, rather than promotional.

 

How To Implement This Idea For Yourself

I’m currently trying to own the category of copywriter. I am not the first nor will I be the last copywriter. My main challenge right now is that I am working uphill, competing with every single copywriter in the world.

 

Even if I were to hone in on a niche, that currently being product review writing, I am still in fierce competition with other copywriters who write the same type of content. The only way to distinguish my personal brand to stand out more is by modifying the title of copywriter, promoting content on why businesses need copywriters, and showcasing my expertise — what I know.

 

People only remember the top three to seven brands in a given category. We have to aim for becoming, at the bare minimum, the number three person in our field if we are going to even have a chance at having a client consider hiring us.

 

Creating content for your personal brand is only the first step in this process. While you create your online footprint, you have to constantly keep in mind, “How am I creating or owning this category?” The older and bigger the category, the more difficult it will be to do this.

 

If you’re trying to build your personal brand as a newcomer in your industry, the most accessible option will be to promote the category you are in. For the more seasoned professional, Tim Ferriss approach might be the better option. Try creating a new category and have others copy you so that you become the leader in that category by default. This is certainly harder to do but, it beats trying to stand out in a sea of other professionals who have the exact same title as you do.

 


 

I just recently finished reading The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk! by Al Ries & Jack Trout. Taking the ideas proposed by the authors, I wanted to know how I could actually retain the information more. I want to make the book more useful. They cover a wide history of how several companies gained prominence (or lost it) within their industries.

 

I’m taking what I’ve learned from the book and applying it to my personal brand. If you’re interested in learning more about marketing in general, I highly recommend buying this book. It’s a fast read and it is certainly an enjoyable way to spend a weekend at home.

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Career Design: Searching For A Combination Of Skills That Make You Irreplaceable

For Every Job Replaced, A New One Will Be Created

I’m an optimist. Instead of expecting not to have a job in the future because automation, I expect that there will be more new jobs than ever before. With this emergence of new jobs however, I am worried about making sure that I am consistently learning new skills that can be transferable. Instead of searching for that dream job, I am more concerned with growing a large combination of skills.

 

In 2007, author and cartoonist Scott Adams published a career advice article on skills acquisition. In this article, he explains that we should not be aiming to be in the top 1% of one specific skill. Instead, we should be focusing on being in the top 25% in a combination of skills. Using this tactic will make us more successful in the long run. He gives an example of how this approach helped him in his own career, creating one of the most popular cartoon comic strips in the world, Dilbert. Thirteen years later and his advice still rings true.

 

Becoming So Useful That You Seem Irreplaceable

Job security may be a remnant of the past but, there should still be methods that we can use to ensure we at least seem as irreplaceable as possible, in the eyes of the people we work with. The last thing anyone ever wants to be is a replaceable cog in the system, waiting to be usurped by cheaper labor. This applies to any professional working in any industry. So how do we showcase our usefulness, how do we show our clients, teammates, and bosses that we are irreplaceable?

 

We can show others that we are irreplaceable by bringing a unique set of skills to the table. What represents a person more than their job title is the set of demonstrable skills that they have. Even though this idea may seem obvious, skills aren’t necessarily discussed in the typical college setting. Students who have not yet entered the workforce don’t seem to notice that their studies don’t lead to the acquisition of applicable skills.

 

Understanding theories and concepts are always vital to the learning process yet, to really be ready to work in an industry requires the acquisition of skills. Having studied marketing case studies doesn’t necessarily mean that you know how to create a marketing campaign from scratch. Taking four years to learn photography and doesn’t necessarily prepare you for dealing with a picky client. This goes to show that we have to take a different approach to growing as young professionals.

 

Key Skills Everyone Should Know, Regardless Of What Industry They’re In

There must certainly be universal skills that transfer over to multiple industries and positions. Take for example, the ability to communicate effectively in both one’s writing and in public speaking. No matter the job, there will come a time each day that you will have to either speak or write to communicate with your team and clients. The better you are at asking and answering questions, delegating tasks clearly, and communicating your ideas will increase the chances of you advancing in your career.

 

Another transferable skill that you may want to cultivate is the ability to give and receive feedback. This skill is essential because without feedback, you nor your team can improve. Being able to give feedback may be more critical a skill to learn, as people are emotional and the ability to help others without appearing mean will considerably affect your career. Additionally, not being sensitive whenever you’re told to redo an assignment will show that you are a good listener. And it will show that you care more about the task at hand, rather than your own ego.

 

I am certain that the ability to learn quickly will also be useful to any team you are in. If you can learn new skills and concepts quickly, you help your team save money on training costs. Having the initiative to educate yourself on topics that relate to your industry also indicates an ability to potentially teach others. Also, if you can create a system of self-education, you standout amongst other professionals who become complacent and comfortable in their positions.

 

Lastly, time management is an essential skill that you must get and cultivate at any stage of your career. Without good time management skills, you will become unreliable. People won’t be able to trust you when you say that you will submit an assignment by a certain time. If you have good time management skills, at a certain point you’ll be able to manage and delegate tasks to other people. The more you cultivate this skill, the faster the teams that you manage will grow.

 

I am certain that there are many other skills that are equally as important to the four mentioned above. Above all else, what will make you an attractive candidate in any future job application will be your ability to clearly showcase your list of skills. There will always be jobs that require certifications and a minimum educational requirement but, what will become more important over time is demonstrating what skills you have that others don’t.

 

If you can start considering what unique set of skills you have right now, which skills you’d like to add, and how you want to demonstrate them, you will be well on your way to becoming incredibly useful to others. The more useful you become, the more irreplaceable you will seem.

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