Take a Risk with Your Next Assignment
No, I’m not talking about the carnival’s Skee Ball game. I’m talking about stepping right up and right out of your comfort zone when it comes to the assignments you take on as a freelance writer.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from nearly a decade of freelance writing, it’s that you don’t have to be an expert on every topic to which you’re assigned a brochure, newsletter or article.
I also learned that by letting go of that fear and insecurity, you just might land yourself some interesting and lucrative assignments. Here’s how:
When it comes to taking new assignment risks, I know the fear and the doubts that creep in as you ask yourself, “Can I really do this? Should I even respond to this freelance job post? What if I make a fool of myself?”
I asked the same questions of myself the first time I submitted a query to Arizona State University’s Research Magazine. I’d never written a science article in my life, so I was intimidated, to say the least. I mean, I was about to enter rooms filled with beakers, test tubes and Petri dishes – something I’d left behind way back in college.
But I knew:
- I had an interest in science.
- How to conduct a solid interview.
- How to ask the right questions.
- The importance of researching the topic before the interview (your interviewee will usually provide you with all of this information in advance … if you ask!).
So, as it turned out, I had a knack for science writing – something I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t given it a shot. In fact, I’d have a lot fewer writing awards under my belt if I hadn’t taken that leap of faith. Not only that, I’ve had the opportunity to write about some pretty cool topics:
- declining salamander populations and their role as environmental sentries
- brain sensors
- nanoparticles in water supplies
- hospital palliative care programs
- the importance of eating your beans with every meal…to name a few.
The learning is simply part of the fun.
I had the same doubts when I took on a position within a business school. My higher ed marketing and PR work was with undergraduate institutions only; I had no business background. But I soon found that my interviewing skills, interest in business, and my ability to tie a story together was all I needed.
The same can be said when I moved into a corporate communications role with a medical company that catered to the aviation and maritime industries. Again: no experience in medicine, aviation or luxury yachts, big knot in the stomach the first few days, and then the eventual realization that, “I can do this. I am fascinated by medicine, interested in aviation and sailing vessels. This could work.”
I’m also astute enough to know when something isn’t a good fit … like when I was approached to write a financial newsletter for investors. I’m a master checkbook-balancer and budgeting Nazi in the household, but I don’t know a thing about hedge funds, annuities, prime rates and amortization. Nor do I have an interest in it (though having financial wealth and investment opportunities sounds like a good plan)!
The bottom line is this: Trust your skills and interests.
If you’re a solid, thorough, research-based writer, the rest will fall into place – just like the ball in the center pocket of the Skee Ball game at the carnival.
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