Copyright 2013 Pacific Northwest Writers Association. All Rights Reserved
5 Reason to Hire a Writing Coach
by Tess Bercan
How many times have you picked up writing with complete dedication to becoming a full-time freelancer, only to forget about it as soon as “real life” sets in and distracts you?
Not to worry, we have all been there. Pursuing passions that reside outside of our normal responsibilities (such as paying bills, heading to a 9-5, and attending to children) are not so easy to keep on track. When life calls and you have a packed to-do list, dropping anything that doesn’t feel immediately necessary to the “do later” pile is easy.
As a freelancer fresh to the game of the writing business (who also worked a full-time job and had many life responsibilities) I can assure you that succeeding in a passion is doable – it just takes a little extra help.
Throughout my journey in writing independently, I have had a writing coach guiding me every step of the way, and she has been an asset that has kept me, my writing, and my lofty goals achievable and intact.
Here are some of the pros that I have experienced from having a writing coach:
1. Sifting through information overload
We can all learn tips and tricks for freelance writing online, but honestly, there is so much information out there that it often feels easier not to start, because it’s hard to know where to begin.
“One of the things I struggled with when I started freelancing is figuring out the details,” explains Diana Bocco, a full-time freelance writer, author, and writing coach. “I knew how to write, but I didn't know anything about finding markets, reaching out to experts for quotes, starting a portfolio or dealing with payments.”
2. There’s a lot more to freelance writing than just writing
Writing passionately since the age of six, I thought that I’d be set as a writer, but after a couple of years in the industry, I have learned that, like anything else, writing full-time is a business that requires a multitude of talents and focuses – and that’s where a coach comes in.
“A coach can help you figure out things you probably didn't even think about: how to choose a niche, how to get those first few clips, how to find clients, and with time, you can probably discover all these things on your own, but it takes exactly that: a lot of time,” notes Bocco.
With my writing coach’s help, I have learned how to bill clients, how to discuss money with clients, how to approach editors properly, and how to market myself in a way that is universally approachable.
3. Succeed at what you love and find the time to do so
When someone starts out on the path of writing as a career, it can be very overwhelming to know where to begin. There are a ton of publications out there: natural living, fitness, culture topics, men’s, women’s, and everything in between.
If you are someone with a wide ranging amount of interests, it’s not always so easy to narrow down topics that you can write passionately about, but finding the time can stop someone before he or she even begins.
“A writing coach can also help you figure out how to find time and motivation to write and how to pick an angle for your career so you can focus on what you're passionate about,” says Bocco.
4. Learn the ins and outs of the industry
The writing industry can be a very elusive and frustrating place for beginners, and even experienced writers. Why? Markets, publications, and editors are saturated with talented people who can write well.
As a beginner, you may receive a number of rejection emails, and that’s if you are lucky enough to even receive a response at all.
This isn’t meant to discourage someone, but this competition is precisely why a writing coach is key.
Many beginners don’t understand the industry. “They think all it takes is an interesting idea, but publishing is a business like any other: you have to understand what editors are looking for, you need to know how to pitch professionally, how to write what a particular market wants and needs,” explains Bocco.
The sooner a writer learns these lessons, the more success they will have in launching a booming career.
5. Command a higher pay rate
As a novice writer, some may find that many markets and clients aren’t always that keen to pay well – or even at all. Many opt to write for free or for very low amounts in order to build up a portfolio.
However, having a writing coach can help someone break out of the low/no pay situation a lot quicker than if a person were navigating the industry all by him or herself.
There is a logical sequence to breaking into markets that are willing to pay higher rates, explains Bocco. Because top websites prefer to work with established writers (in order to make their job simpler), having a writing coach might not make you a pro overnight, but it sure can help you look like one, so that better markets will give you a chance.
“A coach can help you avoid mistakes that make you look like an amateur, and can also guide you in building a portfolio so by the time you reach out to bigger markets, you have a body of work to speak for you,” says Bocco.
Overall, a good writing coach not only gently nudges you forward, but keeps you inspired and actively engaged in the art of writing.
According to Bocco, it's always rewarding for a coach to see people who have innate talent become successful and start earning money. For many writers, it's just a questions of getting the right guidance to help them get going,” explains Bocco.
And from my own experience, I can surely say how intimidated and timid I was as a beginner freelancer. My head was full of all sorts of ideas of “How writing as a career isn’t possible.” But with time, my coach truly helped me through the process of unthawing my fears and replacing them with achievements and progress.
My writing coach not only gently nudges me forward, but she keeps me inspired and actively engaged in the art of writing. Because I have invested in a coach, I take my writing more seriously, and I have seen steady and impressive progress since I began working on my freelance goals about two years ago.
Because I have someone “checking in” on a regular basis, I have steadily moved forward from a personal blog to selling articles for publications I have never dreamed of working with.