Over the years, I’ve met a lot of people who know they want to be web writers. But instead of taking action, they become “watchful waiters.”
Can you relate?
It’s where you read blogs and books about copywriting. You start following web-writing trends. You even join forums and Facebook groups about freelancing.
And then you wait.
Maybe you’re waiting till the timing feels right, or till you finish one more program, or till you feel 100% ready.
Or maybe you’re just hoping someone will drop out of the cyber-sky and say, “Hey, I’d like to hire you!”
But nothing like that happens, so you feel torn between waiting a little longer and giving up all together.
If this sounds familiar, don’t sweat it. We all go through the watchful-waiting stage. But it’s important to push past it and actually get started — in a way that’s comfortable and enjoyable.
That’s why I’ve written this guide to getting started FAST (in a week!) — and getting over the hump of waiting for something to happen.
Day 1: Create Your Safety Net
I can’t emphasize this enough: You HAVE to have a support network of some kind. Whether it’s a professional organization, a chummy group of fellow entrepreneurs, or a laid-back book club, it’s important to network regularly with people who understand your goals.
And there’s another benefit. Web writing is a continual education process. Linking up with others in this industry means you’ll learn from their experiences, which are bound to be different from your own.
Here’s how I recommend you connect:
- Subscribe to the Twitter feeds of key players in web writing, including Rebecca Matter, Heather Lloyd-Martin, Nick Usborne, Wealthy Web Writer, and AWAI
- Join Facebook groups related to web writing, including Wealthy Web Writer
- And of course, become a Platinum member of the Wealthy Web Writer
And then, actively network. Read posts and blogs, comment, and review feedback. It’s the quickest way to make connections.
Why is this so important? For the simple reason that what you’re about to do is a BIG change from the status quo. And when you decide to buck the trend of a normal, humdrum life, it’s nice (okay, essential) to know people who’ve done it and who will help you get to where you want to be.
Day 2: Create Your LinkedIn Profile
Whenever I talk to ultra-successful copywriters, I like to ask about their favorite way to “get noticed” as web writers. The vast majority tell me LinkedIn is the top way to go. Sure, Twitter and Facebook and even Google+ all have their places, but LinkedIn is the watering hole for professionals willing to pay a good web writer what he or she is worth.
The great thing about LinkedIn is that it’s free to create a profile, and it’s easy to do. You literally just fill in the blanks.
But, if that has you scratching your head, just look at the profiles of successful writers. Pam Foster’s profile is a favorite example of mine. She’s absolutely a high-dollar writer, and she’s been quoted saying that LinkedIn is her #1 lead-generation tool. I’d say her profile speaks for itself.
For you, the best thing about LinkedIn is that it puts you out there. It serves as your virtual business card, and it gives you a way to start connecting immediately with others.
Plus, it gets you online immediately. At some point, it will be important to establish a professional website. But for now, put yourself online using this simple, reputable tool.
Day 3: Learn to Talk the Talk
There’s nothing worse than being asked to do a project and not understanding what that project is (I’ve been there).
Save yourself the stress of making things up as you go by getting familiar with industry jargon. Read it, learn it, and understand it.
The first place to go is Wealthy Web Writer’s Web Copywriting Glossary.
After that, besides reading the content on the Wealthy Web Writer and subscribing to AWAI e-letters, I recommend reading the following:
The Copywriter’s Handbook, by Bob Bly
The Architecture of Persuasion, by Michael Masterson
Assuming you’re a member of the Wealthy Web Writer, search the site for articles related to writing web content, autoresponders, e-letters, or the specialty of your choice.
I know what you’re thinking: “But I can’t read all that in one day!” That’s fine. At least skim the Glossary, sign up for the e-letters, and order the two books online. You’ll lay the foundation for continuous learning, and the more you read and review this content, the more capable you’ll feel.
As for articles on the Wealthy Web Writer site, you’ll find a lot of them. Use Day 3 to make a list of the ones you most want to read, and then work your way through them, little by little.
Day 4: Set a Goal
By Day 4, you should be well on your way to establishing your network of support. You should have a public presence on the Internet though LinkedIn. And you should be roughly familiar with industry terms, armed with a list of “continuing education” materials to work through over the next few weeks.
Your next step, then, is setting a goal.
I recommend a three-pronged approach.
- Decide what specialty and niche you’d like to work in — e.g., autoresponders for the self-help industry, or web content for small businesses.
- Set an income goal. Make sure it aligns with your chosen niche — e.g., the B2B niche offers higher income potential than, say, the fundraising niche, although the fundraising niche may offer more personal satisfaction.
- Lay out a timeline — something like this: “Six months from today, I’ll have earned $30,000 as an SEO specialist for education-based websites.”
Once your goal is set, go back to the connections you made on Day 1. Ask your connections if any of them are part of the education industry, or if they can introduce you to someone who is. Update your LinkedIn profile to reflect your specialty. Research if there are any targeted LinkedIn groups you should join. Read up on all SEO-related articles on the Wealthy Web Writer site, including articles about setting fees. And, check out the new Pricing Guide available to Platinum members, How to Price and Land the Top 7 Web Copy Projects.
Day 5: Reach Out
This is usually the scary part for a lot of new writers, but it doesn’t have to be — as long as you have a plan of action. Create your plan by following these steps:
- Decide how you’ll approach potential clients about writing projects. (Are you comfortable making direct calls? Do you want to send emails? Would you rather surf job boards?)
- Based on your answer above, write up your approach. So if you’re comfortable calling potential clients, write up a short script. If you’d rather send emails, write up a template.
- Direct all potential clients to your LinkedIn profile to establish a connection. If you speak with someone directly, just ask — “Can I connect with you on LinkedIn?” and then do it. If you email them, request a connection. And so forth. That way, even if they don’t have projects available right away, you’ll have established a link that could translate to future projects.
What do you do if you don’t hit it big this first week? Simply repeat the process. Continue to grow your support network. Work toward setting up your professional website. Regularly educate yourself. Build more connections on LinkedIn. Assess your progress toward your goals. And consistently reach out, week after week.
Keep that up, and you WILL succeed as a working web writer.