Do You Want To Be a Professional Writer?
On Becoming A Writer
If you are a new member at Wealthy Affiliate, you will quickly realise that building a business the Wealthy Affiliate way, if you do all the work yourself, will help you develop many new skills (unless you have them already of course). I've needed to ask a few questions on a number of subjects, but for me, the biggest learning curve has been on the road to becoming a professional writer.
I know that you probably came here to create a new business or to develop an existing business online.
By now you may have realised that requires writing and a lot of it.
If you are able to pay someone else to do the creative work, that's great! If not, you need to be writing yourself.
I have already written a couple of posts to do with how I got organised as a writer. Here I add more food for thought.
Advice For Those Who Want To Be Professional Writers
- The Habits Of A Professional Writer
- Figure Out Your Own Style
- Value Add vs Quality vs Quantity
- More Productivity
1. The Habits Of A Professional Writer
I know; you probably don't want a job!
But I'm sure you want to be thought of as a professional.
I've experienced and used various different definitions for the word "professional" (and I know there are other uses that I don't mention here).
The first definition was when as a musician I started being paid to perform at about 13 years old. At that age, I naively thought that the word professional simply meant being paid. It wasn't long before I realised that being a professional didn't just mean being paid.
Over time it came to mean, to me, little to do with being paid, although the natural outcome was opportunities for getting paid. In reality, it meant making a commitment that I hadn't previously understood.
Before long, with a little coaching from a couple of "significant others" I realised I needed to continually improve my performance. I needed to deliberately practice (violin at that time) to improve my technique and my understanding of music. So the word professional came to mean doing something each day to improve.
The deliberate practice I needed, and learning, required a little more commitment.
It took planning for what I specifically wanted to improve, and blocking out time, more or less daily, so that I could focus on doing those things.
Fortunately, most of the time I enjoyed the playing but there were times when I had to develop the discipline to consistently follow through.
Nowadays, creating posts requires the same kind of professionalism.
Deliberate practice to improve and to deliver posts requires deliberate planning of specific tasks and deliberately blocking out time for getting it all done, deliberately. These are the habits of any professional. I consider myself to be a work in progress as a professional writer.
2. Figure Out Your Own Style
My point above was largely based on my own experience. This second message is largely based on learning from many others, including reading and questioning other members here.
Thinking back to learning to play the violin, it's not too different I suppose. When learning to play the violin I had three idols from different musical disciplines (folk, jazz and classical) who I listened to a lot.
As it happens, in addition, I've always read a lot... nowadays as a budding writer, I notice which writers styles I prefer and some of it rubs off on me.
As professional writers, we're artists trying to express ourselves through the written word.
All writers have a style; some similar to others, but we all develop our own personal expression.
Some are quiet, some loud, some lively, some subdued, some extrovertedly expressive and others more introverted, some serious and others hilarious.
If I've missed you out, I apologise.
Realise that style in blog posts is mostly more personal than in printed books. It reflects the writer more as a person than perhaps a work of fiction or a non-fiction tome does.
I think style is a mix of a natural inclination along with taking on board what we like from others.
3. Prioritize Value Add Over Quality And Quality Over Quantity
There is a common SEO habit based on the strategy of building a list of researched keywords that attract the most traffic and creating content based on that.
There seems to me to be a step missing. It is often alluded to, specifically referred to and even taught; however, I often read posts wondering what the searchers' query would have been.
The missing step is figuring out what a searchers intent was when they entered a keyword in the search bar. Understanding a searchers intent is the only way to be sure of writing meaningful content to a user of a search engine.
Here is another way of looking at this ...
A common approach to content creation by many writers is to buy into the much-publicised concept that quality is the key to Google treating us gently, and to readers buying our products and services.
Often each article is centred around writing a piece of perceived quality, which, with comprehensiveness becomes extremely wordy.
Bloated sometimes comes to mind.
In the corporate world, I was taught that quality means conformance to requirements. The point is that the single person who uses a car once each week for shopping doesn't need much more than a mini-sized vehicle, nor anything luxurious.
Selling a Bentley to such a person would not be delivering something that conforms with their requirements. Delivering real value add to someone is what I call quality.
The thing about a blog post is that for it to be read a lot, and to gain traction in the ether, it needs to meet the requirements of the searchers, the people asking for information via a search engine.
The personal style of the writer can keep someone reading. A well-structured article can keep someone reading, however...
... what keeps someone reading most is the belief that the post will answer a question that was asked or provide the information requested.
Readers stay for longer on sites that deliver what they are looking for, and they return more often.
4. More Productivity
Rework Your Content For Multiple Channels
This seems obvious to me but nonetheless, many bloggers don't do it.
A blogger can turn their writing into a video.
A video can be turned into a podcast.
Various cutdown versions of any of these can be turned into various social media posts.
In previous posts, I’ve referred to the need for a writing process, the way mine works, and the tools I use.
I currently have little time because of other commitments. So I batch as much together as I can.
When I'm researching, I focus on research exclusively for the time I have allotted to it.
When looking for good keywords I focus exclusively on that process.
When creating draft posts (pre-edit) I tend to get into a kind of focus zone (flow state) and fill my batched timeslot up with drafting as many different posts as I can in the allotted time.
This means that I have literally several hundred writing opportunities started.
When it comes to editing I tend to follow one post through to the end, and publication etc.
So, becoming a professional writer requires organisation.
The organisation of data, learning, skills development, and above all getting the work done.
I hope it’s clear that building a business through blogging requires the deliberate development of research and writing skills.
I love it... it's a lot of fun! Much more fun than working for a living!
If you have anything to add or to criticise please add a comment below...
If you like it... you know what to do! Thank you.