Go Beyond Writing Skills to Succeed

I'm warning you now: you might not like my topic this week.

In fact, it might make you angry.

If you thought all you had to do to enjoy the writer's life was to become a really good writer, well, it's not quite that simple.

That’s why, this week, we're going to take a slight detour from writing. But don’t worry … everything I'm going to talk about is a complementary skill to writing.

"I'm a writer," I can hear you saying. "Why do I need to develop complementary skills? And what are these skills anyway?"

Your talent for writing is very important.

But what I've experienced over the past three years has shown that communicating effectively with prospects and clients is just as important.

You have to make a good first impression to get someone interested in your services. You need good listening and probing skills for client meetings. You must position yourself correctly in the proposal to land the project. And you need to be bold in following up in order to retain more projects.

Develop these skills and you will put yourself head and shoulders above the average copywriter.

Now, don't worry. My series this week isn't about "selling yourself."

These aren't theories or untested ideas.

They're real-life examples that I've had and descriptions of my experiences.

It all started with what you might call a "baptism by fire" …

It was a week after Bootcamp 2008, and I had an appointment to meet with a friend who had a growing sales training business.

I expected a one-on-one meeting in his office. Instead, I was the featured speaker that day at their monthly company meeting.

They wanted to know my ideas on email marketing, direct response copywriting, and maximizing their website for SEO.

I thought quickly on my feet, came up with some good ideas, and ended up working with them on a number of projects over the next six months. They even referred other business my way, helping me jumpstart my business.

There are four takeaways here:

  • First impressions count. A lot.
  • You have to take control of a client interview even when you're not completely sure about what you're doing.
  • Your ability to communicate what you do and how it fits their needs is a crucial learned skill.
  • Your non-writing skills can have a bigger effect on your business than your writing skills.

This week, I'm going to show you how to communicate better with your clients. You'll find out what a prospect looks for the first time they meet you … how to conduct a good client interview … and what to include in a proposal to land the project.

I'll also show you how to get more work and glowing testimonials when you're done.

You can make a good living as a freelance writer with good writing skills. However, you will elevate yourself into six-figure territory faster if you also build up these complementary skills.

I would also like to invite you to weigh in this week with your own experiences or questions.

Are there any client situations you find intimidating? Anything you wish you would have known getting started? Any advice you would give to aspiring writers? You can let me know in the comments below.

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Published: July 2, 2012

7 Responses to “Go Beyond Writing Skills to Succeed”

  1. Steve Roller has done it again! Real world examples of what it takes to make this thing called "The Writer's Life" work. Can't wait to read the other installments! Thanks for sharing your wisdom and insight Steve!

    Guest (Bob Sands)

  2. I've been getting these news letters for about two months, and now I'm starting to read them. The biggest confusion I am experiencing is specifically what skills I need to know to do this job, and how to get started. Cold calls?

    Guest (Brandon)

  3. Thank you for writing this article, Steve. As always, I appreciate your contribution here.

    A long time ago, universities came to the conclusion that mere technical knowledge was not enough: you also needed a well-rounded education.

    For example, you may have excellent communication skills, but taking electives in liberal arts/humanities enables a student to gain a better appreciating for and understanding for our world.

    Same logic applies in copywriting, where you need to broaden your horizons. You avoid doing so at your own peril or risk.

    Archan Mehta

  4. I think this is very apropos, Steve. I have confidence in my writing. But when it comes to facing a client? I simply shrivel! I read posts on the jobs board last night, and felt myself sinking into the old "How am I ever going to be able to talk to these people? Who am I kidding?" I know it's all in my head, of course, but I definitely need to work on the communication with client skills set! I'm hoping the Advanced course helps give me the wherewithal to know how to 'fake it till I make it'.


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