Become a T-Shaped Writer to Boost Your Income and Opportunities
We’re living in one of the GREATEST times to be a writer!
Not only are there more projects and more prospective clients than ever before …
… but you also have so many unique and fulfilling ways to create the writer’s life YOU want.
Just “pick and choose” the projects and paths that fit your goals, your personality, and your current lifestyle.
If you’re the kind of person who loves it all … who has a hard time picking just one niche or specialty … 🙋
… and if you’re the kind of person who loves learning … who wants ultimate freedom over their lifestyle and control over their time, become sought-after, and have their pick of the “cream of the crop” clients … 🙋
… then perhaps the BIGGEST opportunity out there today for you — and any aspiring writer is to become “T-Shaped.”
Let me explain …
The reason there’s so much opportunity in today’s digital marketing landscape for you as a writer is because your clients have lots of ways to reach their prospects and customers.
They have social media, paid ads, videos, email, organic search (search engine optimization), and more.
It’s a LOT to stay on top of and know what’s working, what’s not, etc. in each of these marketing channels.
This creates a wide and massive opportunity for YOU.
It’s what I referred to earlier as The “T-Shaped” Writer.
Simply put, a T-shaped writer is capable in many areas of digital marketing AND an expert in at least ONE of them.
So, that might mean that you’ve got expertise in something specific … say writing direct-response copy …
… but you’re ALSO competent at other writing projects such as content, SEO, or even User Experience (UX).
Here’s a simple way to visualize it:
Take a look at the image below and notice how the horizontal line of the “T” represents a broad knowledge of many different-but-related subjects and skills.
You can see that horizontally, this particular “T-Shaped” writer has got broad skills and knowledge on writing for UX, Content, Direct-Response, Social Media, and SEO.
But their CORE skillset — the vertical column that makes up the “T” shape — is their deep expertise.
In this case, it’s direct-response.
This writer is familiar with all aspects of direct-response marketing, including Paid Ads, Landing Pages, Emails, and Sales Copy.
Now, compare that to most other writers not actively taking advantage of this opportunity of becoming T-shaped. They look like this:
They’re missing ALL that knowledge in those other areas …
That also means they’re missing out on so many more opportunities available to writers that are T-Shaped.
T-Shaped writers REALLY stand out to clients …
As a T-Shaped writer you can communicate better with your clients … your wide knowledge base means you can come up with tons of creative new ideas to test …
… you understand how your copy fits into the overall marketing picture and more.
As someone who hires writers all the time, I can tell you firsthand this is the kind of writer I keep around!
When a marketer has a writer who understands how the other pieces of copy and content work … and can even tackle some of them, even at a basic level … the marketer will usually take as much time as you’re willing to give.
Just ask any of my go-to writers!
These writers can usually communicate better with the marketing team … the design team … the web team …
They can make sure their copy is perfectly matched for each stage of the buyer’s journey …
And as a byproduct, everything moves along without a hitch and their copy ends up generating better results.
This is why T-Shaped copywriters often get paid higher fees.
It’s why they are often the ones with retainers (because they bring so much value clients don’t want to let them go!)
And it’s why they have a lot more freedom — they don’t have to work harder or longer hours … because their broad knowledge base and skills are a big part of the value they bring to the table.
Now, I could write a whole article on how to acquire all these skills.
But this article is already getting pretty long. 😉
So that said, here are my top 3 tips for getting started immediately to become an in-demand T-Shaped writer …
1) Be curious. This is where it all starts. You need to LOVE learning and be curious about the world around you. So don’t just focus on learning copywriting. Make it a point to learn other disciplines, like UX, direct-response methods of testing, paid advertising, and more. The more you do this, the more you’ll start to see and understand HOW your copy intersects with each of these disciplines … and like Neo in The Matrix, you’ll instantly see how to make your copy better because of it.
2) Learn by doing. One of the best ways to become a T-Shaped writer is to experience first-hand what your client has to go through (although it’s not for the faint of heart!).
You can do this by starting your own email list (to promote your writing services or to promote other people’s products and services you believe in). You’ll experience what it takes to get someone to “opt-in” to your list … you’ll see what it takes to engage your email list and get them to respond … you’ll see how to handle feedback … how to craft a great offer … how to make sure your emails get delivered in the first place … and read.
3) Read about other industries and topics outside of marketing. One of the hallmarks of successful T-shaped writers is their creativity.
At its core, creativity is connecting two things that others haven’t thought about bringing together. Like Steve Jobs combining the personal computer and the phone to create the world’s first Smartphone.
You can be just as creative.
Start by reading plentifully — biographies, history, even books on topics like gardening or about industries like manufacturing … things that are outside your wheelhouse.
The more widely “read” you are, the more material your brain has to make those unlikely connections that make you look like a genius to your clients when you offer them an idea that’s actionable and can instantly boost their results.
So, start learning. Start reading. Do what you can to increase your knowledge. Go WIDE. And soon enough, you’ll be the kind of writer clients never want to let go!
The AWAI Method™ for Becoming a Skilled, In-Demand Copywriter
The AWAI Method™ combines the most up-to-date strategies, insights, and teaching methods with the tried-and-true copywriting fundamentals so you can take on ANY project — not just sales letters. Learn More »
This is an excellent message, and one that supports advice given by mentors and coaches. Being a curious and well-read individual helps one become a prolific writer.
Thank you, Rebecca, for all you want for us, do for us, and for all of the possibilities you,Katie, and everyone at AWAI provide for us.
Marian Moore Smith –
A T-Shaped writer. What a brilliant idea, it really makes sense. As someone who reads a lot across a wide range or genres and formats, and is really curious, this is definitely for me. Thank you for the idea. I guess I know where I'm going now.
Rebecca, how would you articulate your T-shaped skills to a prospective client? For example, I'm in the horticultural industry, I do B2B, Direct Response, Content, Emails, Case Studies, White Papers, Landing Pages, Sales Copy, Web Audits, Branding, SEO, UX, Lead Gen, etc. So, how do I describe myself? Thanks so much for your input!!!
Cyndi Weiss Reed –
@Marian Moore Smith - thank you for the lovely comment! Being curious is an ideal trait for writers. - Rebecca
@SuBG - excellent! You are in the exact right place. - Rebecca
Rebecca Matter –
@Cyndi Weiss Reed - that's a LOT! :) I would probably say that you cover the full customer journey - from attracting buyers with content, to closing them with sales copy. But it will be more important to demonstrate your knowledge in these areas (rather than present them up front) when talking to clients and determining what they need ... it's almost like those things are remedies, and your job is to "prescribe" what the client needs to reach their goals. Hope that makes sense - article coming soon on this idea as well. :) Rebecca
Rebecca Matter –