So you want to be a writer (or editor)? Here are 6 things to think about first

A lot of people ask me for advice about becoming a professional writer or editor. Maybe because of my credentials, or my good looks. More likely it’s because they want to work from home and wear nap socks all day.

Now, by definition, my advice is limited to what I know best (although you’ll notice that doesn’t stop me from issuing 1700 words on the matter), so this list is aimed at those of you who will end up in [editorial/comms/staff writing/copywriting/freelancing/content marketing] roles. Sorry, J-school folks; I’ve artfully sidestepped your territory here.

With that in mind, here are some of the questions I get asked most often, and a few observations I hope will help you. Read On…

Without systems, content marketing is a bust

Creating content for your business is a long-term play. Not that there aren’t search and traffic benefits — there are — but as search engines get smarter, content marketers need to get smarter too by prioritizing customer value over short-term wins. The most pressing problem is: how do you achieve that while also achieving business objectives?

One issue is that people prize things like links and disregard the opportunity to create content that meets more complex search demands. But I also think it’s unclear what kind of content creates value, for the organization and the customer. Read On…

Is your ghostwriter making you look like bad?

If they are, it’s probably your fault.

Content is now a game nearly every business is playing, and I think it’s great. Done well, content marketing — even at the most elementary level — can lead to big rewards.

However, the reality is few people have time to craft business content that actually drives results. Yes, there are a handful of entrepreneurs and VCs and solopreneurs who do a swell job writing excellent, in-depth content that I am actually envious of — and I say that as someone who used to get paid to do that (these days I edit more than I ever write) — but they are almost certainly outliers. Read On…

I would not trade those late-night client emails for anything. This is why

The best — and hardest — thing I ever did was start a business. I didn’t do it for freedom. I did it for math: people wanted to pay me to do things I already did. And I needed work that wasn’t tethered to one country.

So I sat on my roof in Mexico, watching the sun set over the Sea of Cortez, and I brainstormed business names with my husband. A few days later, we drove across the fourlane to Staples and printed out our very first business cards, which we hand-cut.

I don’t run that business anymore, and we changed cards many times thereafter, but I still have one of those first pieces of cardstock. It has a drawing of a little bird holding a loop of pink string in its beak: a reminder. Read On…