Lessons learned from my first year in the writing business

Underneath my Facebook post celebrating my first year in business, I was asked the following question: “…so reflecting, what went better than you thought this year and what did not go to plan?” 

When I first considered this question, it was easy for me to think that everything had gone perfectly to plan, mainly because I didn’t really have one!  Yet during my week away from work the question kept coming back to bug me, and I realised that there are actually a lot of things I’ve learned from being a professional writer for a full year. 

Staying consistent has definitely helped me generate business – by that I mean blogging every week, and using social media on a regular basis.  If you work for yourself, all that can definitely feel soul destroying sometimes, with the impression that all you’re doing is shouting into a black hole. 

However, I’ve received enough enquiries from my postings and blogs to know that in fact people do notice, and that by staying consistent with your communications you’re not only reassuring them that things are going well, you’re also making it easy for them to find you when they need you.

Some people don’t like acknowledging that they’ve used a professional writer!  I never ask for reviews or recommendations, preferring people to let me know themselves if they like my work (thankfully, a lot of them do!). I’m also lucky to have received a lot of work via word of mouth referrals. 

I have had to accept, though, that this type of work can sometimes be incredibly thankless, and that some people are far less considerate of words than they are images, for example. 

There is a lot of very bad writing out there…  almost automatically, I’ve been paying a lot more attention to copy; what it says and how it gets its message across – even if it’s just the blurb on the back of a crisp packet!  It’s amazing how many spelling mistakes and misplaced apostrophes slip through the net, even on best-selling DVD covers and book jackets.

I’ve also researched a lot of self-published e-books, some of which are truly shockingly written.  I can’t be the only person who would be put off using a company by its bad writing, surely?  If you’re preparing anything intended to be read by a potential client my simple advice is: edit, send it out for independent feedback so you can check that your message says exactly what you intended, then edit again.

…but I never give unsolicited feedback! 

Well, I tried once.  It went down so badly that now I wait until I’m asked before I tell people what’s wrong with their leaflet, book, or web copy.  

Protecting your time is paramount; if you don’t respect it, nobody else will.  This means not going to every single meeting I’m invited to, or explaining to people who ask me to “just check over” fifteen pages of something they’ve written that there will be an invoice coming with it.

If you’re in business for yourself too, I’d love to know if any of this sounds familiar!  And of course, if I can put any of my experience into practice for you, please get in touch.