How to Become an Authority in 60 Days
No matter where you are in your copywriting career, you can establish yourself as an authority in your niche over the next 60 days.
Sound a little far-fetched? Can you really become recognized as an expert voice in that short of a time? And what's so special about 60 days?
First of all, I'm not talking about becoming world famous. It could happen. But this is more about setting yourself up as a respected professional within your specialty. It's definitely possible, and I'll show you how.
Sixty days is a random number I came up with, but it serves two purposes.
If you start implementing these ideas next Monday, it will take you through December 22. You'll have 10 days to enjoy the holiday season through New Year's Day and then start 2012 strong.
In addition, a short timeframe creates a sense of urgency. With only 60 days to complete this goal, you'll be more apt to get the ball rolling.
Start with self-analysis
If you haven't selected a niche yet, these questions might help you hone in on one. A niche, by the way, is a smaller subset of a bigger market. For example, instead of writing for the alternative health market, you could focus on alternative health products for men over age 55.
If you already have a niche, laser focus even further by answering:
- How do you differ from your competitors?
- What do you offer clients that no one else does quite like you?
- What do clients and peers think you do exceptionally well?
- Think of one unique thing in your background, personal or professional, that brings a unique angle or voice to the work you do. How do you weave this into your writing?
- Why should a business hire you over someone else who offers the same kind of services? (Sounds like a job interview question, doesn't it?)
Answer these questions, and you'll have a starting point for establishing your authority.
"Fast out of the gate"
I've talked to a lot of new writers who accept the idea that it's going to take years to make a name for themselves. The "starving writer" mentality may be true in the world of fiction, but copywriting isn't like that.
Our world is all about results and what clients believe you can do for them based on your reputation and track record. There's no reason that has to take years.
Here are five strategies you can put into action over the next 60 days to start crafting your new authoritative image:
- Write a lot. Don't wait until you're a "great writer" to start doing big things. Become a great writer, day by day, by becoming a prolific writer. Writing a lot, practicing your craft, is the only way to improve. And you’ll get your name out there and start getting recognized.
- Blog. If you have a steady flow of projects, great. You'll be building your portfolio – and your reputation – fast. If you don't, consider writing a blog post a day, either writing for your own blog or guest blogging (check out myblogguest.com for an easy way to get started with this). The benefits? A bigger audience, links back to your website, and networking opportunities. Plus, you'll build your brand.
Create content for niche publications. In addition to blogging, write as many articles as possible on your area of expertise to get your name out there. Who can you write for? Google "business publications", "trade associations", and "trade journals", along with your niche ("self help", "financial", "alternative health", etc.). You may need to narrow your focus even more depending on your niche ("financial" is a broad niche, so you could specialize in "international investments for baby boomers" or something like that).
These publications (websites, email newsletters, etc.) need fresh content constantly. You'll be getting your name in front of thousands of readers who will see you as an authority, many of whom will be good prospects.
Get testimonials now! Testimonials are golden. They're one of the best ways to establish your credibility, and you can leverage them into bigger and better projects. The mistake I've seen new writers make is not getting testimonials from everyone, starting with their first client.
The key to getting testimonials is simple: you have to ask for them. I don't have a formal process, but I'm always listening carefully when talking to clients. If a client says something good about my work, I'll immediately ask them, "Do you mind if I use what you just said as a testimonial?" I'll write it up, email it to them for their approval, and it's done. Then I'll use that on my website, on my LinkedIn profile, in proposals, and even sprinkled into conversations with prospects.
Don't have clients yet? You can still get testimonials. Ask previous employers or colleagues to write a testimonial for you. Ask them to comment on something you'd like to promote to copywriting clients – your creative skills, your ability to generate revenue, or your professionalism on always hitting deadlines.
Ask for introductions. Referrals are great and I've gotten a number of unsolicited ones. But when I ask directly for them, the most common response I get is, "Let me think about it. I'll let you know." Instead of asking someone who they know who might need my services, I ask them to introduce me to someone I'd like to work with.
For example, last year at Job Fair, I wanted to meet a particular marketer. I asked a friend of mine who already knew this person if she could personally introduce me. It was a much warmer situation and led to a connection I followed up with after Bootcamp. Determine whom you'd like to work with, then find a mutual acquaintance to introduce you (either in person, by email, or through social media).
You don't need connections or friends in the industry either. I certainly didn't two years ago when I started, but I told everyone I knew about my career change. My first website copywriting project came from a friend on Facebook who then introduced me to two other people who became clients.
The goal with all these strategies is to get your name out there as much as possible in as short a time as possible. While you're doing this, I'd recommend taking on whatever projects you can get. Check out "How to Land Your First Client Without Any Writing Samples or Previous Experience" for a simple way to do this.
Your expert status
Here's the thing. This is not a passive approach. It takes a certain level of assertiveness to contact bloggers or a niche publication and ask if you can write for them. It takes some gumption to ask for a testimonial or an introduction.
Along with your writing skills, you need an air of confidence, and that's something that can't be taught in a class or in a book. You have to believe in yourself enough that others notice.
Remember, this is about becoming an authority in 60 days by actively making a name for yourself. You’re going after this goal. Not passively waiting for someone to notice you.
I can hear the objections coming, though: "I'm not an expert in my niche yet. What do I write about? I'm not qualified." It seems like a Catch-22, doesn't it?
Not exactly. If you have a niche, you obviously have in-depth knowledge and a passion for it. That puts you head and shoulders above most people. You know enough to blog or write articles.
When you implement the five-step plan above, this will lead to copywriting projects if you don't already have them.
At that point, testimonials, which will tell potential new clients you're good, will start to come in. And colleagues and friends will be happy to introduce you to prospective clients.
It’s a process. But what I'm saying is this:
Don't wait for people to beat a path to your door just because you're a good writer.
That would take years.
I know because I launched my business two years ago. I've had steady business, but I could definitely handle more clients.
So I'm not just suggesting this "fast out of the gate" strategy to you. I'm implementing it myself after the recent re-launch of my business.
It's an attitude shift, a mindset that requires a healthy dose of self-confidence. My only suggestion is that if you're not quite feeling it because you don't have the experience, consider the words of the great author Jack London:
"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club."
Go after it now, and see where it takes you by the end of the year.
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