Last week at Web Intensive, I gave my first live presentation at an AWAI event. I was absolutely tickled to have the title “Speaker” on my nametag and more than a little intimidated to be following Brian Clark, Nick Usborne, and Ryan Deiss.
I had a major case of the butterflies in the half hour leading up to my speaking time. When I’m nervous, I don’t exhale, so I was worried that I’d be up there struggling for breath. I was also terrified my topic wasn’t lofty enough.
But in the end, things went great. Immediate feedback was that my content was good, that I was engaging, but that I talk a little fast (if you attend my monthly Member Update Webinar, that’s no surprise to you).
It helped that I knew everyone in the room and count them as friends. It’s much easier to talk to a group of friends than a group of strangers.
More than that though, I was prepared. I’ve been doing live presentations for years. I’d outlined my material. And I’d practiced it. A lot. In other words, despite being nervous, I could fall back on my training.
I took a class once and the instructor opened with one of my all-time favorite quotes: “You will not rise to the level of the occasion … you will default to the level of your training.”
That’s really the key to long-term success as a freelancer. The training makes all the difference. And the training never stops. You can’t assume that because you were doing great SEO copy two years ago that you can still do great SEO copy, unless your training is sharp. You can’t assume that if you haven’t written an autoresponder in three years, that you can sit down and knock out a great piece today in under an hour.
You may be able to, but it’s a gamble. (Just a quick aside, I’m not saying you should turn down projects you’re unfamiliar with — taking on a new kind of project is a great way to jump-start your training in that area.)
To deliver consistently great results — and to consistently improve your skills — you need to consistently tend to your training. Here are five ways you can do that:
- Read what’s working. Pay attention to what’s happening in your industry and carefully read promotions, e-letters, or campaigns that you know are successful.
- Copy the really good stuff. At least once a week, copy a piece of writing that you admire and would like to be able to emulate.
- Review often. Whatever your specialty, you’ve probably worked through a program to help you learn the skills in the first place. Review that program regularly.
- Solicit feedback. Find peers you admire and whose opinions you trust and periodically exchange work with them and provide each other with feedback.
- Become a mentor. Nothing — nothing — sharpens your skills like teaching them to someone else.
If you take the time to apply two or three of these suggestions, and make an ongoing commitment to your training, I can promise you that you’ll see a positive difference in your writing. And that’s good for you and your clients.
New This Week
When you’re setting big goals and making decisions about how you’re going to spend your time, it’s important to have a Why? behind the decisions you make. Christina Gillick does a great job of explaining this in her most recent Reality Blog.
When you’re writing sales copy, you know to focus on the benefits. The best benefits are the ones your prospect is already looking for. Find out how to figure out what those are in this great post from John Torre.
The right kind of confidence can turn you from a struggling freelancer into a successful, professional, well-paid writer. Try out these seven tips for boosting your business confidence.
Mark Your Calendars
Next week, on Wednesday, Jay White is joining Wealthy Web Writer live to explore the opportunity for freelancers in email marketing. From email promotions to autoresponders to e-letters, there’s a world of opportunity out there. Join us to find out if email writing is the right specialty for you.
Then on Friday the 28th, Reality Bloggers Christina Gillick, Marianne Foscarini, and Jim Wright are joining me for a live teleconference. The focus of this call will be building on the foundation you’ve already laid. It’s going to be fun, so join us.
Around the Web
She had me at, “Hello.” Or rather, she had me at “[marketing] that demands the prospect’s attention and rewards their engagement.” (The italics are mine.) Read this post on Smart Marketing Strategy for seven tips to improve your direct-response writing.
I like these four quick tips for streamlining social media without losing the “social” aspect of it. Check them out from Live Write Thrive.
With content marketing on a huge upswing, start getting a handle on how to test, track, and measure your content marketing results over at Marketing Land.
Happy writers write faster and better in my experience (although I’m sure there are plenty of angst-ridden writers like Hemingway who would disagree). If you’re looking for a way to get happy before you write, try exercise. This infographic shows you exactly how exercise can flip your happy switch.
That’s all for now. Make it a great week!