Every writer has to start somewhere, but in an industry that’s always looking for 3 to 5 years of related experience, how do you present yourself as a credible writer when you’re just starting out?
New writers are often overlooked in the hiring process. Companies don’t want to take a risk on a newbie. Are you unknowingly dropping subtle hints that reveal you’re an inexperienced writer?
Let’s look at seven ways you can establish yourself as a credible writer, whether you’re looking for a full-time W2 position or freelance work.
Here’s how it’s done.
Master Copywriting Terminology For Your Type Of Writing
Knowing the ins and outs of professional writing can be intimidating because of the vast array of terminology writers use. To add to that, different types of writing come with their own variations of terminology. Not knowing the difference between your meta title and H1 tag will set off alarms for the person interviewing you.
Conduct a Google search for copywriting terms you need to get familiar with for the type of writing you’re specializing in. Take notes and test yourself to make sure you know what they mean.
Using copywriting terminology accurately in client meetings and emails gives the impression that you’re a credible writer rather than a newbie.
What To Say and NOT To Say
If you’re a new writer, you should never reveal how green you are. Never divulge more information than is necessary. If you’re asked a question, answer it in a way that portrays you as a credible writer who knows what they are doing. Be confident in your answers. For example, saying “I’ve recently focused on writing press releases” sounds much more experienced than saying, “I’ve just started writing press releases.”
That isn’t to suggest you should lie if asked directly about your level of experience. Be honest yet confident. Just shift the conversation away from you and make it about them. What do they need help with and how can you help them achieve it? What makes you a good fit for their company? Employers don’t need a selfish employee, they need an employee who can provide solutions to their challenges.
It can feel uncomfortable saying you’re a writer when you’ve not really built up your portfolio yet. However, to attract clients or land a new job, you need to present yourself as a credible writer, be it in person, through email, or on social media. Now is not the time for modesty. You are not a “new writer” or a “beginner writer.” Don’t refer to this as your side hustle or hobby. Show potential employers you know your shit and own your space.
Decide What Writing Niche You’re Going To Dominate
Learn as much as you can about your niche. In the military, if they assigned us a mission or admin task for the next morning and we knew nothing about it, then we would ensure that by 8am the next day we were experts on that subject matter.
While you might expand what you offer in the future, start with one specific area of writing. Being as specialized as possible will make you much more attractive to potential clients and employers.
Read everything you can about your chosen field. Keep up to date with the news and latest thinking by following hashtags and groups on social media. Follow other people who write in your niche and become an expert worth hiring.
Build a Writing Portfolio That Brands You As An Expert
A common reason new writers struggle is because they have no evidence to show that they are a credible writer. Clients and Employers don’t want to take risks and a lack of published work shouts out that you’re new to the industry. You need relevant content that you can show potential employers on demand. You need to brand yourself as an expert in your niche.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to set up your own website. That website provides you with a consolidated pool of content you’ve created and written. Samples of this content could be your social media posts, links to guest posts you’ve written for blog sites, and content you’ve written specifically for your website.
When you reach out for job opportunities, add a link to your website for them to see all your content in one place. Every piece of writing must be as high quality as possible.
Never Stop Reading and Learning
Writing is a specialized craft. Even the most experienced writers are continually learning new skills and techniques. If you’re a new writer, there’s plenty to learn from. Read what industry leaders are saying, look for recently published books, and follow good-quality blogs in your niche.
Good writers are good readers. Make time to read widely, both fiction and non-fiction. Don’t just stick to your industry or books about the craft of writing. You’ll find inspiration and topic ideas outside your usual comfort zone.
Create a Swipe File For Topic Inspiration
As a new writer, you’ll come across a lot of content online that you’ll want to keep for future reference. These are great for helping you analyze why they work and how you can put your spin on them in your own words.
When you find a great social media post, published article or blog post, marketing emails, or other useful information, keep hold of it. A swipe file is a simple way of bookmarking all the great things you find to use when you need them.
Although I bookmark a lot of the online articles, I also keep a running list of links in a Google Doc for future reference. Nothing fancy. Keep your system simple and easy to use.
Handle Face-to-Face Meetings Like a Boss
In-person meetings are something newbie writers fear. The fear of the unknown. You worry about what you’ll be asked on the spot without the safety of a quick Google search before answering.
Before the meeting, prepare as much as possible with a thorough search of the company website. Get familiar with what they do and how you could help them. Prepare a set of questions to ask.
The key to a successful meeting is to present yourself confidently. Your potential client will tell if you are anxious and feel the same way. Sit up straight (confident posture), make eye contact, smile, and take notes of the key points during the meeting. Don’t guess what they want. Ask questions about what they’re looking for and really listen to what they say.
Wrapping It Up
Getting into professional writing is an exciting, exhilarating adventure, but it can feel terrifying too. Don’t worry about your lack of experience. Everyone starts at the bottom, and there are plenty of successful writers who have no formal qualifications at all. Sell yourself as a credible writer. Believing in your own abilities is key to your success.
Employers won’t care about your background if they can see what you’ve got to offer them. Make the conversation about them and the needs of their business. Focus on building a portfolio to showcase your skills and enjoy the ride to becoming an established writer.
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