Sunday, September 20, 2009

Writer seeks muse...

I tell my son that the stupid people aren't those who need help; it's those who neglect to ask for it.

So I'm asking for it.

Here's the deal. I'm trying to get my writing gig off the ground. I think I've been pretty smart about it so far. After being unexpectedly downsized, within a week I had a website up, business phone, email and a PO Box, an appointment for small business counseling, business cards, business checking, networking meetings, and an appointment with the Chamber of Commerce. I was "on it" enough to realize that I had to walk before I ran, and wanted to make sure I had all the "back-end" business stuff out of the way before the clients started beating down my door.

Hmmmmm... sure is quiet in here.

I went to a very eye-opening meeting last week where I had to give a five-minute presentation on what I do. I was completely unprepared, and as I nervously said my piece, I found that it was very hard to describe what I do - or what it is I WANT to do. THAT is my challenge this week. So I'm going to practice here, then ask for help.

If you look at my website, the first line of my bio is "Everyone and everything has a story to tell." I truly believe this is true, and that sentence pretty much encompasses what I want to do.

I want to tell people's story. Because you all have one.

While writing for a local magazine in town, I truly loved doing feature articles educating people on a little known place, tooting someone's horn about a new business or community service, or educating people about a financial topic or wellness issue.

When I worked for an agency, my most favorite piece I wrote was about an orthopedic company and the people whose lives were utterly transformed because of the practice owners' technology, talents and compassion. These were people who went to work every day just like you and me (OK, well, not me...), but were accomplishing extraordinary things, right under our noses.

I want to help. I want to educate. I want to spread the word. From a non-profit doing miraculous things with zero budget to a doctor making six figures but spending his vacations helping out in third world countries - these are stories that beg to be told - and all the seemingly "everyday" stories in between.

On a smaller scale, I enjoy telling people's stories in their resumes. I'm amazed at how much more I can put into a work history by talking to the person versus asking them to write down "what they did". I've even penned a few online dating profiles for some friends who were at a loss as to how to describe themselves. That's just good fun.

Let's face it - there's nothing wrong with tooting your own horn, but especially if you're not the one tooting it. So I guess what I'm saying is - let me be the horn. Let me sing your praises. Let me help you get more funding, more business, more exposure. I'm good at what I do, and if you're good at what you do, that's a win/win for both of us right there.

So what am I asking? Advice. Suggestions. What to do next. Is this a feasible leap I'm taking or am I chasing an elusive dream in a shaky economy? Is there a market out there for a writer like me? Or... as I am thinking... do I have to convince people that they NEED someone like me?

I feel a little stupid right now... but that also makes me feel like I am doing the right thing. It's hard to ask for help, especially when you feel like you should know what you are doing. But if I've learned nothing on my 42 years on this planet, it's that everyone has something to contribute, and sometimes you just gotta shut up and listen.

So I'm listening... and hoping the quiet doesn't go on much longer.

3 comments:

  1. I'm going to state the obvious (at least to me): you've run for two yards on first down in doing what you've done so far.

    And, you still have 78 yards to go.

    Now, you have to start making those one-on-one appointments, buying them lunch, bringing in goodies, making them connect your beautiful face with what you do. Meet with your potential customers, take in several examples of your writing prowess, but especially spell out to them how you can make MONEY for them. How you can increase their customer base. If you just pass out fliers, mailings, whatever, your stuff will be shuffled away. The hard part is just beginning. But, the rewards could be very sweet.

    In the end, the quiet WILL continue if you WAIT for the people to contact you. Call ahead... if you get 2 people to agree to meet with you for every 5 you call, you're doing great. Use your charm... use your feminine wiles... use every advantage you have (they are many, I'm sure). Use that million dollar smile; lean forward when you talk to the men; hit the road hard, and buy 'em food.

    Let me add one more thing: you are gorgeous. I still don't get how any guy could let you get away. Your ex needs about a five hour head examination. Your looks can definitely be used to your big-time advantage. Be positive (even when you don't really feel like it); be confident (even if you're pretty sure your next call won't want your services); your business will build and grow if work EXTRA HARD and smart.

    Good luck... I'd like to clone you and take a couple of you home with me... but my wife might get angry.

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  2. First of all you are an excellent writer. You have an excellent talent with words and telling stories. Currently, many businesses and organizations are in a defensive mode and not spending money on "unneeded" services. You must be able to explain why you are needed and how you can bring value to your clients.

    Also, you must be able to quantify your work to prospective and current clients. How will your work for them bring in additional dollars to the bottom line now or in the future? Otherwise, why should they enlist your services?

    You stated above that you had difficulty telling others what you do...this is critical; you must take some time to develop a strong presentation about what you do and why it is important. If you have trouble putting it into words, how will others be able to see the value you can bring to the organization? You have to be able to tell (thus sell) your story!

    Clarify your mission statement and breakdown into a few sentences the advantages that your company can bring to the table. What is your differential advantage that sets you apart for the competition?

    I'm not sure of whom your main competitors are but you should definitely take aim at some of their clients if you think you can do the work more effectively (i.e. less expensively and better). Develop a plan to grow your business using some type of project software and then execute.

    You are very brave to ask for help and I believe you can achieve the goals you have if you stay focused and positive.

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  3. Thank you both for your advice - VERY helpful!!!

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