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Kim Wilson
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Specializing: Becoming Today's Hot Trend Writer
by Brian S. Konradt of BSK Communications and Associates

There's nothing wrong with being a writer who offers a wide variety of writing services. Most beginners start out this way, as generalists, and generate work as a result.

But being a writer of all trades may not be healthy for your business in the long-term. Sooner or later, as you seek bigger clients for bigger paying jobs, you'll be faced with heavy competition.

For instance, in the last few months, how many times have you approached clients for work only to discover they outsourced the work to another writer? And you know you're well-qualified to accomplish the work; in fact, you have samples and a long client list that showcases your ability to do an outstanding job.

If you've come to a point in your writing/consulting career in which you're having trouble securing additional clients, or you're discovering that clients are outsourcing work to another writer, the problem may not be with your promotional material or how you sell yourself. The problem may be with how you present yourself: as a generalist or a specialist.

It's true that generalists (writers who offer a wide variety of writing services to clients) generally solicit more work and have a bigger clientele, initially. But writers who specialize generally—and almost always do—command higher pay and have a lot less competition.

Generalists are often faced with stiff competition because they're head-to-head with writers who are offering the same types of writing services in the same types of markets pitching to every type of client imaginable.

One way to relieve yourself of competition is to specialize in a specific industry or offer a single, specific skill. Many writers think that having experience in many areas, along with lots of samples and working for many diverse clients are the keys to getting additional clients.

Well, that helps to some degree. But when the client is faced with which writer to hire, he first focuses on which writers have the specific skills necessary to solve his specific problem in his specific industry. All other writers—usually generalists—are overlooked.

For example, a client in the health care industry may need a writer to provide copy for a new brochure to create awareness of a new type of vitamin. Twenty-five writers will approach the client for the freelance work, and only one writer will be rewarded with the job. The client will overlook those writers who've pitched themselves as "writers with experience in writing sales letters" and hire that one writer who pitched himself as "a writer who specializes in sales letters for the health care industry" or as "a writer who specializes in promoting vitamins for the health care industry."

After the client weeds out those writers who do not have experience in his industry, he may then look at those specialized writers who have experience in writing sales letters for vitamins or whatever; then he'll look at the samples, client lists, and so on of the remaining writers to decide which writer is most qualified (and specialized) for the task.

When a client has to decide which writer to hire for an assignment or project, a generalist or a specialist, the client will almost always hire the specialist because...

1. The client, nowadays, approaches a writer with a single specific assignment or project, or sometimes a specific problem that needs to be solved. A specialist, who's been trained to handle specific problems and/or write specific result-oriented copy, is more knowledgeable and resourceful to solve the problem or write the copy quickly and competently.

2. The client knows a specialist has specialized skills to do the job right the first time. This saves the client time and money.

3. The client does not have to waste time to a) bring the specialized writer up to speed with the client's industry or b) to master a specialized skill to get the job done right. Because the writer specializes in the client's industry or specializes in a certain skill, the writer is already prepared to step in and do the job immediately.

4. The client knows a specialized writer can produce better results than a generalist. This usually counts the most to high-paying clients: which type of writer can produce the best results.

Additional Benefits
Besides being able to command higher pay and cut through the clutter of competition, specializing also has these advantages:

You can "pigeonhole" yourself in a specialty. When clients begin to associate your name with your specialty, then you've successfully pigeonholed yourself in your specialty and this can increase referrals and getting clients via word-of-mouth. 

Cut marketing and promotional costs.
Being a specialized writer means you target a specific, singular market—instead of multiple markets because it's unnecessary. As a result, specialized writers save on marketing and promotional costs. Specialized writers know specifically who their market is, what type of clients are interested in their specialized skills, and so on.

Receive more authentic leads.
Because specialized writers are tapping into a specific, singular market, they receive more leads of prospective clients who are interested in their specialized skills and who can afford their rates. Receiving authentic leads saves you time and money from going after leads of prospective clients who are not interested in your specialized skills or who can't afford your rates.

Immediately satisfy the client's initial requirements.
When a client is looking to outsource work to a writer, the first requirement he looks for is if the writer has experience in his type of industry or if the writer has the specialized skills necessary to undertake the task. Specialized writers fulfill this first, major requirement, and this helps increase the chances of getting work from the client.

Greater profitability.
Besides being able to command a higher pay rate for your specialized skills, becoming a specialized writer means you have the experience and skills to work on projects more quickly and competently, which allows you to make more money off of your project rate as well as to increase your workload or have time to venture off into other profitable areas related to writing.

An authoritative figure.
Clients look upon specialized writers as writers with a certain gift or insight, and they often associate specialized writers as being authoritative writers in their fields.

Brian Konradt is the owner and operator of FreelanceWriting.Com (http://www.freelancewriting.com), a web site dedicated to help writers master the business and creative sides of freelance writing. Mr. Konradt is also the principal of BSK Communications & Associates, a communications/publishing business in New Jersey, which he established in 1992.









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