Article by Wendy McCance
While building my writing career, I have stumbled many times. I have also had some great success. Most importantly, I have learned some universal truths about building a business.
One of my biggest downfalls was questioning my feelings and thinking I was the only one who felt the way I did. A good example is my ability to procrastinate. Whenever I land an assignment, I always tell my client when they will have a draft emailed to them. The reason I do this is so that I put myself on a deadline. I tend to make the deadline shorter than I feel comfortable with specifically to get over the fear that plaques me each time I write.
The fear I experience comes in the form of questioning how I will begin the assignment or do I really have the background to write about a certain subject. I have found that by trusting my gut, I know when an assignment should be taken on and when it should be passed up. Even so, I will make unreasonable demands on myself and begin the doubting process.
It usually takes me a full day of procrastinating and then I get sick of holding myself back. By the next day (at the latest) I am in full swing and can type out something to be proud of.
Another writer I know, mentioned this exact problem on her Facebook page. I was dumbfounded. I had been terrorizing myself by questioning why, if I loved writing so much, would I put off what I loved? This writer friend, showed me that it is a common ailment amongst writers. Not only did I read about her experience torturing herself, but some of her writer friends verified that they go through it too.
This brings me to my first point. You aren’t special. I know that sounds harsh, but whatever problem you are facing is the same problem many others face as well. To be successful, you have to stomp out that negative voice and proceed on no matter how anxious you might feel. Other people have been there and gotten through it. You can get through it too.
Have you ever felt that you were making one mistake after another? Maybe you have felt like a fraud who didn’t know enough and should possibly pass on going after your dream. You can give in to that inner critic and take all of the stumbling to heart, or you can get creative and find ways to fix errors and learn whatever it is you feel you are lacking.
Success is really based on bravery. How brave do you feel? Can you fight the negative thoughts that pop up in your head and replace them with encouragement? That inner voice can do great things for you or tremendous damage. It’s up to you to decide what you are willing to take to heart.
Do you hold off on making that next move because you have too many reasons why you aren’t ready? If you follow this pattern, you should know, you will never be ready. There will always be a reason why you will feel safer waiting it out.
To be successful, you must take risks. It’s that old saying of fake it till you make it. The time to act is now. I am not saying pour money into something you can’t afford, I am suggesting that if a big deal is presented to you, grab it. Take those opportunities that come your way. Don’t pass on something because you feel you aren’t experienced enough or big enough. Unless an opportunity is seriously out of your league (and you do know in your heart when it is), don’t stop yourself from moving forward. You could be passing on a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Speaking of faking it until you make it, life is an illusion. Understand this fact and play it up. If you want to be successful you have to look successful. Buy one good outfit that you can use when meeting clients. Create a web presence that looks professional. Join groups and make those important connections. Be organized and do your homework before you sit down with someone. First impressions are everything. You must come to the table as prepared as possible in the way you dress, act, and in what you know. Make sure that all of your research is done and that you really understand, and can speak to their needs.
Speaking of meeting with a client, there is no need for lengthy discussions. People want fast and to the point answers. A straightforward approach that is explained in five minutes makes a bigger and better impression that a lengthy speech full of diagrams, a portfolio of work and the throwing out of big names.
Speak to the client’s specific issue and have a quick to the point answer. You will give the client a much better impression and you will also save yourself a lot of useless work. Ultimately, your goal is to get a discussion going without ever opening a briefcase and pulling out a single paper (although you should always carry every paper that might be requested). The key is to keep the client interested. The moment those papers come out, you have lost ground as the client’s focus is now on what you are showing them. From there, disinterest can set in and the client will grow bored quickly.
Finally, go for the things that seem out of your reach. It could be attempting to secure a meeting with someone you think is a big deal or maybe it is getting your name in the paper. Maybe it’s your desire to write for a particular magazine. Do your homework and think big. Surprisingly, if you have researched what you are going after and have tied up loose ends (like knowing the exact name of the person to send a magazine pitch to), amazing things will happen, and often too.
Don’t limit yourself, but don’t offer too much either. One of the reasons I have had a good amount of success is because I don’t just write. I realized after talking with several clients that there was a need for teaching people social media or creating and maintaining social media platforms for them.
Because I can write and also take care of my clients social media needs, I have doubled the amount of business I would have had if I only wrote. That being said, I know my limitations. I am not a person who can can write code or do graphics. I can write a sell sheet, but I can not add the graphics to it. It’s just out of my range of abilities.
It’s important to know how far you can push yourself and when you need to stop. Just because I could get more business if I could write computer code, doesn’t mean I have the capabilities to do it. I know my limitations and stop when I have reached them.
Below is a list of the important rules to follow. Your road map to your success. Basically, this is the information you should hold close and review often.
1. Fake it till you make it.
2. Always dress and act the part.
3. Be prepared and ready to answer any question.
4. Realize that those moments when you torture yourself have been experienced by many successful people. Those people just pushed through the negative moments and moved forward anyways.
5. Join groups, look for mentors and share what you have learned with others. Don’t just look to receive. Be willing to share as well.
6. Don’t wait until the time is right. It will never happen.
7. Go for the biggest, best accounts you want to work for. With enough research under your belt and a good sales pitch, amazing things do happen.
8. Be willing to fail. In some way and at some time you will face sort of failure. Realize it is just part of the climb, learn from your mistakes and keep focusing on the goal.
9. Don’t limit yourself, but don’t offer too much, either.
10. Above all else, handle yourself with honesty, integrity and the ability to treat others in the way you expect to be treated. Clients can perceive someone who cares about their business and is genuinely in it to help them. They can also sense a person who is only in it for themselves a mile away.
I hope these suggestions help you on your own personal path towards success. Please feel free to add a comment. Share your experiences and tell us what you feel is important to know as you go after your own success.
To contact Wendy McCance about a writing assignment, interview or speaking engagement, please email her at: [email protected]
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