I’m a writer for hire, and the fact that I’m a writer is fairly well established in my network of contacts (my referral pipeline). While I do want people to think of me as a writer when they have a project, having writing skills is not enough of a distinction.
In the world of marketing and communications where I’ve spent my career, most of my colleagues have writing skills. Many entered their fields with journalism or communications degrees. Plus, the designers I work with often write their own copy – and are pretty clear about how they want their messages crafted.
If I proclaim to the universe “I’m a writer,” I can almost hear an echo from everyone in my network: “So am I.”
Therefore, there must be something different about me. And this is it: In my client work, I make things easier for others to get their work done. These “others” are the ones under pressure to fill their member magazines, produce their newsletters, retool their websites, prepare their press releases, publish their books. They’ve got bosses, members or clients to please, and they’ve only got so much time to get their work done. When they’re overwhelmed, I make it easier for them to move forward.
This sense of ease isn’t an end product, however. It needs to run through everything I do. It’s easy to get in touch with me. I am easy to talk to about projects. The other side is that I’m not going to create hardships by missing a deadline or doing shoddy work or in any way embarrassing my contact related to his/her decision to hire me.
I didn’t know any of this when I started out. I thought (and believed) people would hire me because I’m a writer. I was wrong – not about my writing skills but about the reasons people hire others. I have never once convinced someone to hire me because I’m a writer. I have only been able to persuade those who have a problem to solve that I am an easy solution to the pressure they are under. Thus, understanding my unique selling position came from better understanding my clients.
So, what’s different about you? What is your identity as an entrepreneur that goes beyond your skill sets? What is the sweet spot, the secret ingredient, the illuminating benefit that separates you from your competitors and solves a client’s problem? Or what if this “competitor” is not another provider of the same service but the client’s reluctance? As I mentioned, my clients could do their own writing projects. Often my competitor is not another writer sneaking into my territory – but a client saying “I’ll just do it myself.”
Minnie Lamberth is a copywriter, content creator and creativity coach.