If you’re one of those lucky millions who recently shoveled a couple feet of snow, you probably had ample time to think, while criss-crossing the sidewalk and driveway. Not only does the shovel feel heavy, but in some cases, so does your outlook on your professional skills and career.
If you’re a manager of writers remember that, in general, writers are reflective. Talk about this year’s resolutions with your team.
The following goals can be used by freelance writers or members of your content department to professionally stretch.
Attend at least one industry conference this year.
Conferences can be expensive, but you’ll find worthwhile investment in knowledge and networking. If you attend a conference at the top of the year, you benefit from that knowledge and the contacts gained that year. However, when you attend a conference in September, you’ll find decision-makers who are looking for your services at the start of their budgeting process for the following year. Some of our favorite digital retail conferences include:
Read on a daily basis.
There are so many worthwhile blogs and as a writer, you should be reading not only to gain business savvy, but to improve your writing technique. Besides our own, My Web Writers blog (which you’re reading), we recommend that you keep tabs on the following blogs:
Improve your writing.
- Do not send an email, resume, article, post, or power point to another without checking the spelling and grammar. Use the many digital tools available to you.
- Improve your story-telling by reading your articles out loud to a video camera or to a recorder. Then, observe your fluency, word choices, and tone. Put your work away and then look at it again with fresh eyes at a later date.
- Take a college writing class. Join writers groups. Connect in LinkedIn forums.
- Study sentence combining. The more you maneuver parts of sentences, the more you’ll see the various options open to you when editing.
Directors, hire a freelance editor this year for additional perspective on content. An educational program for your writers is great, but one-to-one coaching by an outsider can correct individual idiosyncrasies.
Learn more about selling.
Many talented writers totally miss the concept of why they’re writing retail content. That’s because many of today’s digital writers majored in journalism or creative writing because they wanted to write important news stories or memoirs or fiction. Writing about soap, perfume, or widgets was never the original calling or intent. Now, you want them to sell? The purist author is only producing website copy to pay the bills.
But, writers, you won’t be able to sustain your revenue for long if you don’t cozy up to the idea of selling and we don’t mean screaming at your audience to buy stuff. We mean subtle, well-positioned selling that most readers never notice.
Where should you go to learn more about selling? Start with Seth Godin. He’ll turn your mind inside out. Then, search for “selling techniques” or the “art of selling”. There are so many videos and articles on the topic. You might land on the Sandler Method or find a helpful article at the Salesforce blog.
The most important fact to remember is that you can sell. When you influence your children to earn good grades, you’re selling. When you persuade your spouse to take a vacation, you are selling. Apply the same principals of persuasion to the content you’ve been tasked to write.
Managers, provide sales training for your content team. You’ll notice a long-term difference in conversions.
Keep learning new time management techniques.
Not letting that blog post take all day to write is a stress that most writers share. That’s because we were taught the writing process in school, but in the real world, the pace is much faster. My Web Writers’ blog offers several articles on time management. Speed up the process by adhering to these timing techniques:
- Set a timer for each writing session;
- Track your hours with a time card;
- Make use of moments when you’re forced to wait- on trains, in cars, in the orthodontist office, while on hold, etc.;
- Keep a notepad with you at all times to jot down or to list ideas that come out of nowhere;
- Say “no” to distractions when accomplishing a particular goal within an hour’s time;
- Allow for blocks of time to enjoy and then to psychologically remove distractions.
Supervisors, ask each writer to share an effective time management technique. Then, choose a few to monitor and to reward this year.
Encourage and stretch your content department by implementing the above professional resolutions this year. Did we miss yours? Share it with us!