The best writing tip I ever received

Hasn’t happened yet.

Do you like how I got right to the climax of my title’s interest, then boom – nothing.

I have never had a sage writer pull me aside and say, “Leah, the secret to being an uber successful writer is...” For that to happen, I would need to personally know a sage writer – any takers?

With the internet being so accessible and prolific with great content, information no longer needs to be relied upon from the literal mouth of an expert. Instead, we rely on the typed words of those in the industry who have succeeded and failed. 

As a professional pro bono’er (had to be careful with that one…) I have a long list of content that I have provided/written free of charge. It’s big. So big, that over the years (17 of them) I have come up with every excuse for continuing to offer my writing for free. Below I have written about my two big excuses and followed them up with two great tips. Enjoy.

  1. It’s good writing experience – Well, yes it is. But so is flash writing, fake advertisements, timed writing, writing exercises etc. Every time you put your pen to paper, it’s good experience.

    Pro tip: The first sign of devaluing your talent is undervaluing your time towards your craft. That was wordy, but speaks to the example: Well, my real job is being a paramedic, and my hobby is writing. See what I did? I took every piece I have ever written and made them inconsequential, as they stood no ground against my ‘real’ job. Value your time no matter what you are writing. Every pro will tell you that your writing is real and should be valued as a real job, if that’s your goal.

  2. It will look good on my portfolio- This one is tricky because without a portfolio, your future boss/client has no way to see what kind of work you have done. So where do we draw the line at portfolio content? My advice, google your competitors. Copy the formats you like and then make it your own. They are pros for a reason. There are many professional online copywriter portfolios that you can search and learn from. Here is one from a copywriter in the UK: It’s clean, simple, yet full of great content. Doesn’t hurt that she writes for big names in a multitude of industries.

    Pro tip: Don’t rush this and only put your best work. Quality over quantity. Low on content because you’re new to the industry? Show them what you are capable of producing. Create fake advertisements, website content, etc.

  3. Be authentic. This might sound hokey but the more authentic and honest you are as a professional, the more desirable your work becomes. Note how I said, “Your work.” That is because this is about your work – not you. Don’t make this personal. As a content producer, they are not looking to match zodiac signs with you, they are looking to hire a content producer who creates incredible copy.

    Pro tip: Never lie. Good writers, even some bad writers, can sometimes over sell their writing experience. If you have never created content for a website, don’t say you have. Instead, should you be given the opportunity, show them what you can do with content that is already online. If you’re feeling bold and show considerate decorum, try to figure out what content they wanted re-written and show them an example of what you would do with it. We all have to start somewhere.

  4. Reach out and reach far. Being scared, nervous and feeling overwhelmed are emotions that help us strive for greatness as writers. If we stay comfortable all the time, we miss out on learning opportunities. Continue your education and expand your skill set if you are feeling stagnant or have no idea what your niche is.

    Pro tip: I am currently enrolled in an SEO content course with a great SEO copywriter, Heather Lloyd-Martin. In one of our conversations, she said to make a list that consists of, “Hell No” and “I think it could work.” Then google every type of copywriter/content producer there is and put them in their column. In addition to this, I then added my interests and disinterests to those columns. Spend time researching yourself. You’re worth it.

Did any of you ever receive a tip that you hold in high regard? Learn something online that was pivotal in your career as a writer? Feel free to share it and maybe we can all learn something new today.

Writer to Writer: I hate red pens. I also dislike the red track changes on Microsoft word. Whenever I received my essays back from my TA in my University courses, I would see their red markings in my sleep, for weeks. #writerinsecurities #whatswrongwithpink

dog editing meme