Monday, November 3, 2008

How to Write Business with Pleasure

Writing for businesses can profitable and pleasurable if you approach it correctly. Here's how you can put more zing into your writing life.

What is the single greatest reason for failure for a professional writer?

I don't think it's poor cashflow or changing market conditions ~ not when writing is your business ~ I think it's failing to realize that you ARE in business.

Writers are creative. We love to dream, to imagine, to present ideas. We may love writing books but not necessarily working on the financial books in our business.

I know, I'm no different.

But I realize that for me to remain a success in business, I need to continually remind myself why I am here, what I should be doing, and get on with it.

It's too easy to let the muse take over, and write when you feel like it, when the inspiration takes you or when the phone rings.

While you're waiting for that time, who's paying the bills? Who's planning, making contacts ~ ensuring you will have a business tomorrow?

To be an Enterprising Writer, you need to be proactive in business.

Whether you're new to business, an old hand, or ready to take it to a new level, here's one simple question you should ask to ensure you're on the right path and moving in the right direction. Think about it carefully, do a little soul-searching and you'll be that much closer to finding the niche in your writing life:

What field holds the key to your success?

There's a wealth of writing fields you can try or specialize in. Many writers are content to freelance for newspapers and magazines, and settle for poor rates. But have you tried the corporate sector?

Commercial writing is the most lucrative field I know, and it's an area I have invested the bulk of my time for the past 12 years. That is writing everything from media releases, direct mail and advertising copy to speeches, newsletters and brochures for small businesses and major organizations.

So if you are considering the commercial writing field (and I urge that you do), think about the various disciplines available.

You could focus on public relations and offer news releases, newsletters and speeches to clients. You could concentrate on mainstream advertising and provide copywriting services or maybe direct marketing and handle newsletters, brochures and sales programs.

Think about the certain types of writing you have done and like. If there's a natural reporter inside of you, maybe PR is the best place to start. If you have an off-beat imagination, maybe you could try your hand at ad copywriting. Or, if you're a born sales person, DM could be the best place to couple your marketing and literary skills.

While you're thinking about that, consider this . . .

If you have areas of interest or expertise, you could offer any or all of these writing services to specific industries.

I have, for example, been interested in computers since I got a Commodore 64 for my 21st birthday. Yes, it's a museum piece now, but it was good enough for me to write my first novel. I have come a long way since then, and so has technology, but I have maintained my interest in computers. So much so that since 1988, when I went full-time into commercial writing, I have always had one or more information technology accounts.

Today, many PR practitioners will tell you that IT is one of the best industries for PR ~ and they're right. But that's not the reason I targeted this market so long ago, and it's not the reason I have stuck with it ever since. I enjoy writing about new innovations. I like cutting through the jargon to present true business benefits to people.

The challenge with IT, like many industries, is that the technology changes so quickly, it's easy to fall behind. I certainly don't profess to be any kind of expert when it comes to using technology, but I have become an expert in writing about it. My true expertise lies in asking the right questions of industry marketers, commentators and technicians, and being able to write what people need to know.

Why am I telling you this?

I am showing you that you do not need to be an expert in any field to be a good commercial writer. It helps if you have a genuine interest, although I have found it easy to get enthusiastic about any and every client I handle. If you're not 'born' with this ability, you can develop it over time.

So, once you've answered that all-important question ~ what field holds the key to your success ~ you're on the right road to fulfilling your potential.

This is a little like setting goals.

First you need to identify the goal, then work out how you are going to achieve. Set the prize as the top rung of a ladder, with a number of steps below it. Those steps are smaller objectives you need to accomplish first.

The same applies when you begin working on your writing business. Put simply, you need to:

1. Identify which writing disciplines best suit you.

2. Determine which fields or industries you like.

3. Target suitable clients within these industries.

4. Sell yourself to them by using any or all of the writing disciplines we've just discussed.

That's the great irony about being a writer in business. Many have trouble making it because they think like a writer instead of as a business person. But, if you think like a business person and apply your writing skills, you will have a winning combination.

Unlike other business people, you don't need to hire a writer to produce news releases, draft prospecting letters or publish a newsletter. You can do it all yourself ~ saving time and money ~ and, best of all, who else knows your business and your abilities like you?

Now all you need to do is convince others.

Go to it ... I think I hear your phone ringing.

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