The Reality Blog: Are You A Dabbler Or A Focuser?


Dear Web Writer,

This morning, after sitting down to examine my project workload, I stopped just short of opening any files.

Instead, I stopped by a forum. Checked on the news for the day. Visited my favorite tweeters.

Which is all classic behavior when I’m not sure what to do or where to start.

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When Busy Means Nonproductive

The contents of my current to-do list include projects I spent the past two years working toward. It includes things like:

  • Write 2 landing pages
  • Send 4 new Google ads
  • Edit special report
  • Finish website revision
  • Brainstorm new e-letter, write first draft

And, that’s just the tip of the iceberg, with the things due this week. I’ve got loads of other projects I should get a jump on in anticipation of upcoming deadlines.

My hang-up lies in my focus (or, lack thereof).

Which is exactly why Rachel Karl’s advice today hit home for me.

Don’t Dabble: Instead, F.O.C.U.S.

Rachel talks about the value of Following One Course Until Successful. It’s how she’s been able to launch herself so quickly on the path to six-figures. (You can read more about her success here.)

She’s one of the few web writers I know who didn’t get caught up in the slew of opportunities out there.

It’s kind of ironic, really. There’s so much variety in the types of available jobs for anybody with solid web-writing skills that a lot of us end up trying a little bit of everything. This, despite constantly hearing the message to specialize.

On one hand, I think there is value to getting your feet wet in a few different niches if you find they interest you. But, two things you should NOT do, are:

1)    Go after any and every possible job
2)    Continue in areas that hardly interest you simply because you can get a paycheck

I’ve certainly been guilty of this. In my first year, I took a job writing web copy for an audiovisual company. The pay was great and the experience taught me a lot, but the whole time I knew it was taking me four times longer to complete the project than it would have for anybody more tech-savvy.

That should have been my clue, but when the client came back with another big offer of pay for an even larger project, I bit. And, you know what? It was a terrible experience! I ended up passing the project off to a copywriter I knew with an engineering background; he spoke the right language.

I should have told the client “no thank you” from the start.

Write, Replenish, And Write Again

Now, I know better. I know where my strengths lie and I know how to align my interests in those areas.

I still keep a variety of projects going, as mentioned above, but the difference is they’re in a few specific niches – because no, I still don’t confine myself to one niche.

Specializing in one niche is an excellent way to build your expertise and fees, but I’m not comfortable with just one. Fortunately, six-figure copywriter Carline Anglade-Cole taught me it’s A-okay to work in a few areas. She’s a superstar in health copy, but she likes to write fundraising copy to “replenish her mind,” I think is how she put it.

I do the same. My two primary specialties are B2B and Health. I excel at B2B and have a passion for health writing. Writing for both markets works for me because it gives me a break from each industry without having to take a break from work.

And, to replenish, I write for cause campaigns.

How Do You Get Projects Going?

I could certainly still use a little more focus in my day, regardless. Even though I’m not at the point where I have to focus industry and project type, Rachel’s advice is excellent when it comes to getting started on existing projects instead of dabbling in finishing several.

Tackle one, stick with it, and once successful, move on.

How do you get started when you have several tasks staring you in the face? Let me know below, and thanks in advance!


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Mindy Tyson McHorse

Mindy Tyson McHorse

Executive Editor for The Barefoot Writer, Mindy McHorse writes for clients in the biz-opp, alternative medicine, and self-help world.


  • Hey Mindy,

    Thanks for another “on-target” read.

    I think we can all plead “guilty-as-charged” for pursuing multiple different tangents at the same time.

    That’s why your comments and Rachel’s article are so important to put into practice – for everyone.

    Have a great weekend..

    • Hey, thanks Mark! Good to hear from you.
      Yes, I sometimes feel like I could call myself a “tangent specialist.” And it goes beyond work tangents – I have scores of projects around my house that are all “in progress.” I wonder if learning to f.o.c.u.s. more on work projects will ripple over to home projects so I can see more things through … here’s hoping!
      Take care – hope you’re doing great!

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