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Friday, May 30, 2014

Writers Worth: 5 Ways to Defy Limitations

One more day to enter: comment on any one of the Writers Worth posts, and you could win one of these prizes: An Amazon gift card worth $25 or a copy of my ebook Marketing 365! Just leave your comment to enter the random drawing. Winner to be announced June 2nd!

Hard to believe, but it's been an entire month of Writers Worth awareness! Thank you again to all the kind freelancers who shared their wisdom here, either in guest posts or in thoughtful commentary. I appreciate your camaraderie and your friendship as much as your knowledge.

On this last day of our celebration, I want to talk about our limitations -- hurdles, roadblocks, walls, whatever obstacle is slowing you down. We all have something that gets in the way, be it professional or personal. You don't have the skills to complete that job, or you've never worked with a corporation before, or you have to work four hours a day because you work a second job or the kids are home from school...there's plenty of stuff out there competing for our attention.

However, plenty of the limitations we face every day are self-inflicted. "I want to write for that magazine....sigh....I don't have enough experience." Women, I hate to be the bearer of such news, but it seems we're doing it to ourselves much more often than our male counterparts. An excellent article in The Atlantic this month by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay reveals what I'd suspected for years: we don't have enough confidence in ourselves. The article is a must-read for all women, in my opinion.

Whether real or perceived, we face the limits of our abilities or our time (or our interest or our confidence or....) every day. But what do we ever do to overcome those obstacles? When do we put ourselves in that situation to improve on our circumstances? Many times, we don't, and probably because we don't know where to start.

Try starting here:

Pretend it's a lower goal. Would you sweat it so much if you were scoring a gig that paid just 20 cents a word or $25 an hour? Well, you'd probably not take something that paid so little, but why not pretend the pay isn't an issue? What's at issue -- always -- is delivering your best work to a client who needs it most.

Perceive the need. Salespeople understand and live the notion that the products they sell are needed. Your product -- your skills -- are just as necessary to someone. Whenever you seek out new clients or go into negotiations for any project, understand that it's not them doing you a favor by hiring you. It's you meeting someone's need with your skills. They need a writer. You need a client. It's a two-way street.

Bring some humanity. If you've managed to score the gig with the magazine or the client, you've already impressed someone. If you're attempting to score the gig, treat them as someone you want to get to know personally. Humanize that high-level client, consider the editor a colleague. Now go write that introduction/query.

Give it your best what-the-hell approach. You've been circling that coveted company or magazine for too long. Dive in. Say "what the hell" and try. Hit them with your experience, your observations of their company, or your query that fits like a glove. They can always say no. However, they could just as easily say yes. And no, as you know, isn't the end of the world. I remember sending several children's book manuscripts to an editor over the course of two years. I didn't get any sales, but I had personal notes from the editor on a few occasions: "Getting closer with this one, Lori." I may not have succeeded in the original goal, but my persistence caught her attention and she remembered me. If that's the worst that comes from your attempts, you'd be doing great.

Always aim higher. It's nice to be working for clients who pay you okay and treat you somewhat okay if the trade-off is ongoing work. But for every client who's just okay, there are plenty more who value your skills and want someone just like you to work with them.

Writers, how did you defy your limitations? What pushed you to try?


Eileen said...

Good stuff, Lori. One thing I've learned over the years is to stop focusing on what I can't do, and focus on what I CAN do. I can't come up with a full blown self-marketing campaign right now, but I can carve out 30 minutes to work on a headline and concept for my self-marketing letter. I can't afford to spend much on client acquisition now, but I can afford $25 to put towards postage to mail out LOIs. I can't make 200 phone calls in a short time, but I can one follow-up phone call every day. I can't afford a course on white-paper writing, but I can find an hour to download white papers and study them. These things have a momentum of their own, and before you know it, you're doing more than you thought you would.

Cathy Miller said...

I always try to ask myself, what is the worse thing that can happen?

The client says No. We don't do as well as we thought but we learn from the experience. We move on.

Doesn't sound so bad.

P.S. Thank you, Lori, for your time and commitment to a stellar Writers Month!

Lori Widmer said...

Eileen, that's an excellent suggestion. Thirty minutes is much more effective than waiting for time to create that entire plan -- great stuff!

Cathy, exactly. Okay, one or two clients might get rude, but who wants to work with a client who would be insulting or rude anyway? When that happens, I consider it a bullet dodged. :)

Thank you, Cathy, for your post and your contributions toward getting this little rebellion of mine out there. :)

Anne Wayman said...

Sometimes I take a look at what I do well or have done well...

Georganna Hancock M.S. said...

Great advice I received from Donn Pearce (author of COOL HAND LUKE): never turn down an assignment. Worked for me!

Paula said...

Best Writers Worth Month ever!

Even if they say no, you can still thank them and remind them you're available when they need you. Then follow up every few months. I did that for a couple years before landing a new client last year. Sure, they don't have a huge demand for freelancers, but I'm now on their list.

The most important thing is not to take rejection personally. Usually it has more to do with budgets or timing that with you.

Lori Widmer said...

Georganna, I like Donn's advice. I wonder if he coupled that with his minimum rate or if he had a plan that moved the income upward?

Paul, that's an excellent suggestion. I've had clients hire me after years of no-thank-you. Stay in touch!

Lori Widmer said...

ACK! Paula. Damn keyboard.

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