I have been covering the different mindsets necessary for successful activity, first on Paul Davis Solutions, then covering how marketing needs to be as an amateur on Pivotal Marketing Services.
Today, I want to talk about how to build a career through professional end results. No employee, customer or fan is interested in you if you look professional and produce amateur.
As a professional writer, what I look like doesn’t often matter. What you look like doesn’t matter. All that matters are the results: does your writing communicate to your audience and produce desired results?
For some writers, your content needs to convince someone to do something; you are copywriting. For others, your content needs to entertain someone for a period of several hours; congratulations, you are an author. For some, your content needs to educate, entertain, and nurture readers along a journey towards a decision point; you are doing content marketing.
The Professional Writer
In the professional mindset, you analyze your process and your results to look for improvement. This mindset, characterized by Booker T. Washington in Up From Slavery as a “Yankee” woman who “wanted everything kept clean about her, that she wanted things done promptly and systematically, and that at the bottom of everything she wanted absolute honesty and frankness. Nothing must be sloven or slipshod; every door, every fence, must be kept in repair. “
To approach your work as a professional, you need to understand fundamentals of grammar and voice, even if you choose not to use them. I have read many sales pieces with purposeful typos that get people to comment on the ad and introduce a conversation with the business owner.
A professional makes even their mistakes serve a purpose.
Having a professional mindset in writing means that you take time to understand your audience: their voice, their tone, their desired language style and reading medium.
Understanding Your Audience
When people first started writing blogs, they were written as web logs or journals. The first bloggers were mainly talking to themselves and people who identified with the blogger followed them. This is one way to find an audience. If you write to yourself, you will gather like-minded people around your writing.
For most professional writers, we are looking to speak to a specific audience. When you are writing to a specific group of people, you edit your writing, hone your voice, and research your audience (in the reverse order of what I just wrote).
Research Your Audience
If you are writing a fantasy novel, do you read fantasy novels? Have you been to a fantasy convention or even held your own book groups in your home town?
You don’t have to be a member of your audience before you start writing to them, but you will be a member of the audience by the time you have a professionally written product to give to the world.
I know more about IT security services and infrastructure now then I ever wanted to know, being rather laissez faire about the whole idea. But, I have written for many security clients, and to do it I have to think a little like my clients, and a little like their audience.
This is research: learning to think like the person you want to read your content.
Hone Your Voice
One thing I love about ghostwriting so much is it teaches me to change my voice depending on who I am writing for. From that practice, I am now creating 3 different website platforms with 3 unique voices for my 3 audiences. As a professional writer, you need to hone your voice by listening to your audience, practicing writing, and listening to them again.
Edit for Your Audience
Research plus practice means you will be able to edit your pieces to be ideal for your audience.
I need to make a clarification here: the professional mindset in editing only rarely seeks perfect grammatical and error-free writing.
Hop in any online networking group and you are going to see gems of writing like the following: “Did anybot got theirs reenabled and how?”
Surprisingly, it took me 5 minutes on my FB newsfeed to find that gem.
People speak differently to their parents than they do to their friends, your inner circle friends use words that your general peers do not.
This is how people communicate and build relationships. So as a professional writer, your job is to edit your written speech so that it communicates to a specific audience in a way that they relate to a message that you or your clients desire to say.
It’s a complicated job, but somebody’s got to do it. And trust me, there is no danger of automation truly taking away a writer’s job.
The final issue to talk about in the professional mindset is quality control. As a writer, we have to analyze our writing and hone it to be better, to speak clearer, to engage more.
The professional mindset is all about managing your time as efficiently as possible to provide the best quality you can for the value you are charging.
In the mindset of a professional writer, your quality control needs to be consistent and standardized. I will write more on some practical aspects of this later.
So, to have a professional mindset in writing that will advance your career, you need to research your audience, practice writing in the best way to communicate to them, and develop a quality control process to ensure your writing is doing what it needs to do.