I don’t normally do the whole celebrity thing but I want to talk for a moment about Ryan Reynolds. Yeah, it sounds bad but I promise it’s relevant and I’m not going to mention his ass.
Way back when, Ryan appeared on a little sitcom called Two Guys, a Girl, and a Pizza Place and of course he played the quick-witted, cute guy; a role he’s played well and repeatedly since…even as Deadpool.
(Okay, maybe not so much the cute guy in that one.)
Anyway, it didn’t take long for Ryan to portray the same archetype in almost every role he accepted. He had been typecast.
Now, if you’ve ever seen the remake of the Amittyville Horror, this is where I truly fell in love with Mr. Reynolds. The entire movie hinged on his descent into madness…and he nailed it!
The role was clearly outside his regular genre and required more than just sarcasm and smiles-and he rocked it. If you haven’t seen it, you need to.
Get a buddy—shit’s scary.
So what the hell does Ryan Reynolds have to do with your writing career?
It’s obvious isn’t it? Even if all you’ve ever done is comedy, you shouldn’t feel like you can’t play a psycho-possessed murderer!
If you’re already established in another niche or want to break into a new market, there is no reason you can’t spread your wings once in a while and rock another subject or form of writing.
Not only will you expand your craft and grow your experience, you will be able to earn more by offering different types of writing services. This might include copywriting or white papers…maybe even magazine features.
Prove Your Ability
Breaking into a new niche is hard, especially if you don’t have any clips or samples to demonstrate your ability outside of your comfort zone…but it’s an easy fix, as there are a few different ways you can prove yourself to possible clients.
Use Your Blog
The first way to prove your ability is to publish pieces on your blog like those you aspire to write for others. If you want to design landing pages, start with your own. If you want to write interview-driven feature articles, start by using your blog for practice.
This strategy might not work for every form of writing but it will for most if you get creative.
Then, when you throw your hat in the ring for that social media manager position, you can point a cover letter link straight to your experience.
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Build a New Blog
If there is a niche you’d like to break into (maybe health or news) you can easily build a blog to showcase your writing on the subject.
You don’t have to post to it every day; just keep it current enough to show potential clients that you’re dependable and able to write on your topic.
Accept Pro-Bono or On-Spec Work
Obviously, pro-bono is where you do work for someone free of charge and I’m not usually a fan. I like to eat and turn on lights.
But if you need samples of a specific type of writing, you might consider offering your services to a non-profit or charity.
On-spec is when you submit your completed article to a publication without a prior agreement that the piece will be accepted.
I don’t usually recommend these either because you can wind up putting in the work and then be unable to sell it, but if you’re new to freelance writing and don’t have many clips, it can be a great way to get published based on the merit of your skills, instead of an impressive resume.
Besides, you need to be working on your craft anyway.
If your on-spec article is declined:
Post Your own Samples
There’s no reason you can’t create your own clips and host them on a site like Dropbox.
When emailing a potential client, include the links to these pages along with a short description. If you have a professional website (bonus points if you do) include the links on your portfolio page.
Study your Craft
If you’re trying to break into copy or technical writing, you may want to consider taking a course or at least doing some self-study.
Research workbook-style guides on Amazon, sites that offer how to’s and tutorials, and reputable courses offered online or locally. You can even create a ‘certified’ area on your professional site to highlight your dedication to professional development.
Broaden Your Writing Horizons
No matter your usual style or type of writing, if you’re trying to build a freelance career with your writing, you’ll want to be able to offer clients a variety of services. Specializing is great (I recommend it) but don’t typecast yourself. Be a Ryan Reynolds and rock your shot to do something out of your usual.
What type of writing do you usually do? Have you ever stepped out of your usual role to try something different? What types of writing are you planning to learn? Have you ever had to turn down work because you didn’t have the experience or training needed to tackle the assignment?