Five Ways to be More Authentic as a Writer (and Attract More Clients as a Result!)

Mindy McHorse

Working in this industry as intensely as I do, I see a lot of copywriter websites. And, in recent years, I’ve come across a few that have caused me to stop and frown.

Websites stating the writer is the world’s smartest copywriter, world’s best copywriter, world’s most imaginative copywriter … I can’t believe some of the claims writers have made. Let’s face it, unless you’re Bob Bly, and truly “America’s Top Copywriter,” you probably haven’t achieved “best” status just yet.

Sadly, I see this kind of thing a lot. Maybe you’ve noticed it too — writers and freelancers in general claiming to be experts and top gurus in their fields, but with little proof. And too often, with little experience either.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a reasonable dose of self-confidence, but do you find the puffing up annoying … or essential?

Because on the flipside, posturing takes place all the time. You see it splashed all over the websites and social media profiles of a lot of writers and freelancers.

By posturing, I mean making yourself appear better, smarter, or more skilled than you really are.

(Not that you could put the cold, hard truth on your website headline, especially if it’s something like this: “Hi, I’m a brand-new writer and I really want clients and money even though I’m technically a novice and I’m not sure I’ll even know how to do your project if you give it to me.”)

So what’s the happy medium?

The antidote to baseless posturing is to be authentic. More importantly, to discover your authentic voice.

Whereas posturing can be described as trying to be clever and trumpeting your abilities before they’re hatched, authenticity is the act of finding your own voice. It’s that sweet spot where you contribute to a conversation or a dialogue without parroting something you read, but instead with genuine thought.

Here are five ways to be more authentic as a writer:

  1. Address the source. Most posturing stems from the fear of rejection or humiliation. If this is you, take the time to really learn your writing craft. Study resources like AWAI’s Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting or any other guides on writing better. Knowing your craft makes you a lot less likely to get rejected or embarrassed.
  2. Ask questions. If you’re working with a client and you’re not sure of something, or you have doubts about the direction of a project, say so. Ask questions. Of course, you’ll want to do it with tact, but clarification is a lot more useful if you get it while you’re writing as opposed to after you hand something in. It takes courage to let your guard down when you don’t know how others will respond. Assuming you’ve got it all figured out is neither courageous nor useful.
  3. Aim for candor and straight talk. Don’t feel like you have to position yourself with a fancy headline and smooth talk for your online presence. Write about your services and abilities honestly. Focus on the positive, sure, but avoid overblown, see-through claims.
  4. Do the work. If you take the time to put in the work, whether it’s in the form of spec assignments or client projects, then that work will speak volumes for you. Probably loads better than any claim you could have dreamed up.
  5. Gather testimonials. Testimonials are great — it’s a way to share compliments about yourself without being braggish. So, start gathering some. If you’re not writing for pay yet, then ask for character testimonials from people who know you best.

Above all, be honest. If you’re destined to go great places as a writer, honesty will get you there a lot faster than being the “world’s best” of anything. Please share thoughts and comments below.

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Published: March 31, 2016

11 Responses to “Five Ways to be More Authentic as a Writer (and Attract More Clients as a Result!)”

  1. In bidding on jobs, I used to oversell myself. I thought of it as the way to bid higher successfully. It worked, but only sometimes. In one assignment my lack of knowledge was blatantly displayed when I spoke of jumping a horse in a pleasure trail event (involves no jumping). I do know quite a bit, having owned a horse at one time. However, I was obviously not knowledgeable about all types of competition as I had insinuated.

    Guest (perowlifick)

  2. Hi Mindy, thanks for articulating what's been flashing thru my mind as I'm about to come out of the shute as a recent grad of the ACC companion course and wishing to avoid the serious mistakes you listed in the article.
    Enjoy your articles immensly, they are very helpful for a newbie.


  3. Thank you, Mindy, for a great article on authenticity. It inspires me to go in the right direction and just be honest about my experience and skills (without doing a confessional).

    Guest (Judith)

  4. Mindy, I love the christian based concept of honesty! Our words are powerful, so first impressions of honesty should be at the top of the list. I am currently working on my website and I too am stuck with what to write to promote. This has helped to give me a few more options: examples of testimonials, share abilities, etc. I can now refocus on some specifics. THANK YOU, Lisa O.

    Lisa Osborn

  5. I just began the Accelerated course a little over a week ago ... I am really trying to concentrate on the lessons and not "overdo" on extras (money is a little tight) to start out. My question is: Will the website webinar be offered again in the near future? It sounds like something that I would definitely benefit from, but I'm just not able to financially do it right now.

    Dianne Walsworth

  6. Mindy, thanks for your thoughts. Yes, I would prefer to understate my abilities a bit. That too takes some thought you will agree. In that way you will always be seen as someone who over-delivers, rather than being found out for what you wrongly claimed. Your honesty and integrity get a huge leg up too.

    Guest (Teejay)

  7. Hi Mindy. It's interesting that you brought up the issue of honesty since I have been giving this a lot of thought recently. I was listening to an AWAI webinar and the speaker suggested that our professional website needs to indicate our previous experience which, if you're a newbie, doesn't exist. So you make up a client and write some copy for this "client." In my mind, that's lying. What if a potential new client decides to check up on that "client" and discovers there is no such person/company? My reputation is fried. Thoughts anyone?

    Guest (Arlene Marquis)

  8. After reading the above article as well as the responses to it, I like them and agree with them wholeheartedly. I believe that words carry spirit, which can make or break the reader, but not only that words are the perspective of their user and illustrate to others how a person thinks and feels. Not only about what ever that person is involved in, but also how they perceive other people.

    Guest (Monixa)

  9. At this point, I struggle with what to say were I marketing myself. It doesn't serve any purpose edifying ourselves in an overated manner.I prefer write from my heart and while am still learning, and I get it copywriters fail forward.I hope to construct a very sober resource box that will nudge different businesses to allow me the opportunity to exercise my writing muscle in a professional manner, doing their copy. Please leave me your testimonials. I'll share them with prospective clients.

    Writer in Progress

  10. @ Arlene we've written many things in the past especially if we were involved in internet related work. That's what I would say, but once someone gets intrigued by what they read from us, even if we were providing odd jobs all along as what we did for work, we get a chance to shine by what we write and how we write it will land us jobs even if we do not have much experience. That's what I think.

    Writer in Progress

  11. Hi Mindy, I just signed up with AWAI and am feeling a little bit overwhelmed. I was very glad to find this article written by you, because it was your letter that finally convinced me to join. I really like your "voice" because it sounds a lot like my own. Thank you for this article, it helps a lot.

    Kim S

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