Quite a few writers look for magazines, publishers, websites that pay for content and the like when they look for opportunities to undertake paid writing work.
They define what they do as writing: writing features, writing stories, writing interviews and so on.
As a businessperson I define what I do as supporting customers.
Some of that support comes in the form of the written word. Some of it comes in other forms – lots of them.
There are individuals, businesses, public sector/government-funded agencies and similar types of organisation around which are looking for support, and people who can help them.
They are probably not looking for writers.
In many cases they won’t set much store on writing and the ability to write.
In the last week, if I defined myself as a writer, I would say I had been working on a number of writing projects. One of these focused on writing down what an organisation actually does. The task was to work with the organisation’s owner and to capture the essence of what that organisation sells and how it is perceived by its customers.
The writing part of the activity turned out to be two pages of text.
However, the customer didn’t pay for the writing of the text. She paid for the facilitation process. To her the writing was just part of that process and simply a record of what happened in our day long meeting.
Since I sell support in a variety of forms, and not copywriting services, the consultancy and facilitation activities were what went on the bill. It was still a writing task and one what was well paid.
Last week I also worked with a different organisation on a writing project. Its owner-manager wants to capitalise on its TQS success. (See my blog: Achieving the TQS to learn more about the Training Quality Standard.)
I talked with the managing director about the local newspapers and the types of story it runs. We role-played what the managing director would like to say to the editor of the business pages, if she had the chance to meet him.
We worked on the message, and her script, and I wrote it down. I also smartened the message up and made it more succinct and incisive. I offered to write a press release as well, but that offer was turned down, even though it would have been included in the fee I was charging.
Again, I was paid, but not as a writer. I don’t think the customer would have considered paying the fee I charge to someone who just did some writing.
The key point here is that if you’re a businessperson you’ll label what you do in terms which make sense to the customer and in terms of what the customer values. If you’re a writer you will label what I was doing as copywriting.
Both projects succeeded because of my writing skills. I really don’t mind that in both cases the customer placed a higher value on my other skills than on my writing skills.
There are many people out in the business world who think that writing is easy, and that it is something that people don’t expect to be paid well for doing. Yet, there are also lots of people out in the business world who need the support of people who can write well.
Writing well is at the heart of everything I do in my business, but I’m not a writer. There are good business reasons why I do not label myself in that way.
How do you define yourself?
What are the consequences of your choice in terms of how much you earn?