Member Update: Handling Mistakes

Overworked businessman frustrated and stressed in his office with computer - overtime.

You’re going to make mistakes.

At some point, you’re going to miss a deadline… you’re going to send over the wrong draft of a document… you’re going to publish something to your blog that contains inaccurate information… you’re going to hit Send on an email and realize only afterward that the subject line was still a placeholder.

Knowing you’re going to make mistakes is what holds a lot of writers back.

It’s easy to feel like if you make a mistake, everyone is going to know about it. You’ll be a laughingstock. Blacklisted forever. You’ll be reaching out to a new client and they’ll say something like, “Wait, aren’t you that writer who sent out an email message with a broken link that one time. Yeah… I can’t work with you.”

Rather than face the prospect of making a mistake, you do nothing… an even bigger mistake than any you’ll ever make by accident or because of an oversight.

Trust me… as a professional writer who has been earning a full-time living at this since 2003, I’ve made a few mistakes (more than a few) and I’m still here.

There’s been an awkward conversation or two with clients where I wished the floor would swallow me whole. But I got through them… and didn’t even get fired.

What I’ve learned through the years is that there’s a formula for dealing with mistakes. And if you know it beforehand, it can remove a lot of fear about taking action. Mind you, it doesn’t remove the sting. But it helps to know you have a plan if something should go wrong. And that if you follow the plan, most of the time, things will be all right.

And even if they’re not all right in the moment, you’re not going to be shunned by every business out there. The internet is full of second chances. (And third chances… and fourth ones…)

My formula for handling mistakes work like this:

Step One: Recognize the mistake and own your part of it. Often mistakes are a group effort. Own what you specifically did wrong. Don’t own the parts that aren’t your doing. You don’t have to point fingers or cast blame. You just have to say, here’s what I did wrong.

Step Two: Take whatever action you can to fix it as soon as you can. This might be as simple as an apology — some mistakes you can’t reverse. It might mean writing a correction email or providing edits to a piece of work you considered done. It might mean getting on the phone and having a conversation with your client… or even one of their customers, depending on the situation.

Step Three: Figure out why it happened. The reason might be carelessness. It might be that you were in a rush. It might be complacency. Or that you missed a step. Or that there was a miscommunication. By figuring out what led to the mistake, you can find ways to avoid it in the future.

Step Four: Vent your frustrations to a friend or even just in a journal. Give yourself an appropriate amount of time to feel sorry for yourself… to rant… to beat up on a punching bag… to go out in a field and yell at the sky. Whatever you need to release all the un-fun emotions tied to the mistake.

Step Five: Revisit Step Three. Update your checklists or project procedures if needed. And then move on. Continuing to beat yourself up or doubt yourself doesn’t help anybody.

That’s my five-step process for handling mistakes. And I’ll tell you what — clients appreciate when you own your screw-ups. My clients trust me all the more because I don’t make excuses for mistakes. I own them. I fix them. I look for ways to prevent them going forward.

Having this step-by-step system of handling mistakes in your pocket can make it easier to move forward on anything… because you know what to do if things go wrong.

New on Wealthy Web Writer

Although the responsibility for a promotion’s layout ultimately falls to the graphic or web designer, you need to be aware of what works and what doesn’t work in terms of readability. John Torre shares five principles to keep in mind when preparing your work to hand off to a designer. Keep this in mind when you’re reviewing the final layout, too!

Podcasting is an effective way to get in front of your target audience. Best of all, there’s not just one single strategy to use. Tracy Wilson shares three ways you can use podcasts to grow your writing business.

In case you missed the live interview between our Reality Blogger, Andrew Murray, Nick Usborne, and myself, the recording is available. If you’re looking into doing a Money-Making Website — or you already have one — you’ll find lots of good stuff here.

Happening This Week

Friday: Your LinkedIn Profile is an important asset. With a well-written profile, you can attract the attention of your target prospects and make valuable connections with other writers. This week, I’ll be reviewing the profiles of a handful of your fellow Wealthy Web Writer members in a live webinar. Join us to learn about crafting the strongest LinkedIn Profile possible.

Coming Up

February 28: Wealthy Web Writer Platinum Member, Rebekah Mays, has set a big financial goal for herself this year. She’s gotten specific, figured out the tasks she needs to complete her goal, thought about her most likely obstacles, and planned to overcome them. Listen in when she quizzes Rebecca Matter (AWAI’s President) and myself to get our insights into her action plan.

Around the Web

This is an article about staying in touch with your scrappy side… in other words, making a deliberate choice to push yourself and have fun. I frankly love the idea of Hack Time. And even though this is from a coder’s perspective, I think writers could really benefit from their own version of these principles.

“Persistence trumps a new business idea every single time.” Jeff Bullas talks about why it’s not too late to start an online business, and that quote sums up one of the underlying keys to success.

Writers already know the secret to happiness.

One of the easiest ways to power-up your writing business is to land repeat customers. Michael Katz talks about the easiest way to do this.

That’s all for now. Make it a great week!


Heather Robson

Heather Robson

Managing editor of Wealthy Web Writer, Heather has over ten years of content marketing and development experience.

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