When I first started working as a website content writer, I spent a big chunk of my day reading online. I had to know about all the SEO discoveries as they were discovered. I needed to know what all the marketing gurus were saying as they were saying them. I left countless blog comments. I re-tweeted endlessly.
After several months of being inundated with information and kissing strangers’ butts, something bad happened. Something really bad.
I wanted to quit.
I spent so much time comparing myself to the self-diagnosed online marketing gurus and experts that I felt like a failure. I felt like a real loser.
Then something really good happened. Something clicked. I decided to stop caring about the cool kids and start caring about the bottom line—my income.
No, this is not some kind of how-to-make-money-as-an-online-writer post. All I’m saying is that I realized that if I wasn’t billing at least four hours in a day, what was the point of any of it? I needed paying clients and nothing else.
That’s when I got to work…for real.
I cold called. I joined online and offline associations. I went to networking events, seminars, and conferences. I invested in a pay-per-click advertising campaign. And, most importantly, I only blogged and tweeted when I had the time and the inspiration.
I loved my job again.
I loved my job because I got to do what I loved doing…writing web content for businesses. My clients don’t care if I memorize every single detail of the latest Google update. My clients don’t even care if I know the most obscure grammar rules. (I’m confident I’ve broken several rules in this post, but that’s a topic for another day.)
Here is what my clients want from me as their website content writer. They want me to
- Pick up the phone when they call.
- Get the finished copy on their desk when they need it.
- Write content that gets noticed by search engines, but, more importantly, gets visitors to call.
- Answer their questions and provide ongoing support without nickel and diming them.
- Talk to their web developer when their web developer stops making sense.
- Share ideas for a content marketing strategy and be standing by when they’re ready to make that investment work for them.
There you have it. Nowhere on that list of items do you read that my clients want proof that Seth Godin thinks I’m brilliant or that Copyblogger published six of my articles. I suppose there are businesses out there that would love to see that from me, but after five years as a website content writer, those things haven’t been necessary to make a decent living.
Now’s your chance to stop trying to be popular and start trying to reach your target market. Let’s get going already!
For all of you web writers out there, what was your turning point?
Blog post author Sara Lancaster is the founder and creative director at The Condiment Marketing Co.
After writing this post, I came across a Tedx Boulder Talk from Erika Napoletano. Looks like I’m not the only one trying to be unpopular.