THE KEY POINTS
- Audio version available at the bottom of the page.
- Anyone can write. Not anyone can tell a compelling story that pulls the string of human emotion wherever they want it to go.
- There’s a reason some writers are $20/hr and some are $250/hr.
- Writers aren’t just about putting words on a page, they are the true creatives, the idea people, the people who make something out of nothing.
- Writing not only matters, it’s your do or die; the single biggest determining factor of success or failure.
It’s true. Anyone can write.
Also, anyone can dance, and anyone can sing. But there are those who are passionate about it, trained in it, experienced in it and naturally talented at it, and then there’s everybody else.
The way the marketing and creative talent placement world has viewed writers has always been most peculiar, as well as suicidal. Resumes get looked at, samples in portfolios get skimmed. But for the most part, if it’s seen the writer was able to gather up a bunch of words and put them on a page in the form of mostly readable sentences, it’s assumed they must be good enough. Well…good enough for $20/hour.
That’s right, I said $20/hr. That’s the rate many “writers” ask on freelance gig sites like Upwork. Those getting placed into contracts through placement agencies don’t get much better. Meanwhile, I have friends who make their deals directly with clients and get $250/hr. Do you know the difference between a $20 writer and a $250 writer? Because if you don’t, you’ve lost the content game before you even got out of the gate.
Many corporate hirers of writers don’t even take the time to completely read a single article in the portfolio.
Nearly everyone thinks they can write. The truth is not everyone can write well.
Or convey thoughts clearly and coherently.
Or empathetically manipulate human emotions using words.
Or make people laugh.
Or make a compelling case.
Or form a proper story arc.
Or grab readers with a headline.
Or create suspense and cliffhangers that make readers want more.
Or maintain proper grammar.
Or put themselves through multiple drafts.
Or write for multiple formats and channels.
Or internalize the consistent voice of a brand or executive other than themselves.
Or work well with clients.
Or know the right questions to ask and how to listen.
Or be prolific.
Or deliver quality consistently.
Or be pleasant to work with and amenable to reasonable feedback.
Hopefully you’re starting to see the difference between the $20 writer and $250 writer. Many corporate hirers of writers don’t even take the time to read every word of a single portfolio article to see if the information and intent was delivered with above average, artful effectiveness. We got a writer. It doesn’t matter who. We checked the box.
Words are so powerful that choosing the wrong ones or wrong combination of words can compromise communication to devastating effect. It’s literally caused wars.
It not only matters, in the content marketing space it’s your do or die; the single largest factor that will determine success or failure. Because as ridiculously long as the above list is, there’s something more, something even more important, about quality writers. They don’t just write. They don’t just make words show up on a page. That’s the easy part. They are creators in the purest sense of the word. They are idea people. They are concept people. They are the ones who think and send their minds racing off to unseen places to make something wonderful where before, absolutely nothing existed. Where will you be without ideas? Where will you be without someone who can bring an idea to life?
There are countless kinds of writers. Some do one thing amazingly well. Others turn their keyboards into Swiss Army Knives, able to apply their writer’s soul to any number of genres, purposes, tones and formats. But in every case, words matter. Words are so powerful that choosing the wrong ones or wrong combination of words can compromise communication to devastating effect. Words have literally caused wars as well as kept the peace. Words have inspired the founding of nations, the emancipation of a people, and the human adventure of walking on the surface of another planet. Words cause the cruelest of pain and express the most euphoric love.
Experience and years of practicing their craft has taught the best writers what works and what fails to have impact. They come armed with the many mistakes they’ve made and the many things they’ve tried. Writing, like any other talent, never reaches its full potential without constant practice, the constant exercising of that muscle to keep it in peak condition. Real writers have to write. They feel suffocated if they can’t. They relish the blank pages most people fear and the possibilities they might make rise out of it. There is no crying in baseball, and there is no “out of ideas” in writing.
Netflix is jam packed with incredibly bad movies that got made by producers and investors who obviously couldn’t tell if they were looking at a good script or a disaster.
Writing for a brand is a particularly special talent. People who know how to apply entertainment and captivating concepts to what is typically dry and not particularly compelling corporate messages…that’s a true find for any company. It avoids your brand being otherwise thoroughly uninteresting amidst a daily tsunami of interesting content choices your audience can decide to consume instead. Look over the “How to Tell Good Content from Bad” post of the Content Marketing for the Very Busy Series.
Have you noticed? Netflix is jam packed with incredibly bad movies that got made by producers who obviously couldn’t tell if they were looking at a good script or a disaster. How do you avoid the same fate if you don’t trust yourself to identify good writing talent? Here’s how.
Nobody cares more about your company, your product or service than you do. But ask yourself, when you read your web copy or blog posts or print material, how often do you feel something? Does your heart ever race a little? Do you get tingles on the back of your neck? Do your eyebrows go up involuntarily? Do you say “wow” quietly to yourself? When was the last time you had anything other than a flatline reaction to reading something about your brand? When that flatline jumps, you’ll know you’ve got a real writer on your hands.
And yes, they’re worth it. Let your competitors suck.
Once you’ve gone through the series and feel like you’re ready to talk about what sensible next steps can be taken, we’d love to talk shop with you, no commitment. Just fill out the easy form, or email Stiles, or we hear sometimes people still actually use the phone! Feel free to do that to.