Why hiring a writing coach can help you build your business

Why hiring a writing coach can help you build your business

When I set up my copywriting business, one of the first things I did was hire a writing coach.

Now, for someone who had been working as a journalist for the past 15 years, this might seem like a waste of money. Hello, haven’t I proven time and again that I can write well? Shouldn’t I use the money to pay for a social media marketing consultant and web designer instead?

After all, entrepreneurs need to invest in what will pull in the most clients and sustain their business. But since I’m in the writing business, having thousands of Facebook fans or a website with all the bells and whistles won’t attract clients.

Being a (surprise, surprise) topnotch writer will.

Here’s how a writing coach helps me build my business:

  1. A writing coach speeds up my learning process

    There are different types of writing coach. Some serve as a novel doctor – they help you develop plot, characters and the tone of your novel. Others give you advice on how to write press releases. I blog for entrepreneurs, so I decided to hire a writing coach who has succeeded in blogging and helps other bloggers do the same.

    My modest success as a journalist won’t work in the blogging world. Sure I can write – but writing in a detached, objective and critical way won’t work for blogging. And I have no time for the old-school trial-and-error method.

    My writing coach helped me find my writing voice (more personal and straight from the heart) without forgetting about my readers (like the need to put a call to action at the end of the post). Long-time professional bloggers may think this elementary, but it’s not for those who earned spurs in traditional media.

    (In fact, a lot of journalists just don’t “get” blogging… but that’s a topic for another post.)

  2. A writing coach serves as my business mentor

    No matter what business you want to get into, you need a mentor who can guide you through the ins and outs of the industry.

    My writing coach has succeeded in selling writing–related services, e-books and courses over the net. I learned a lot from her experiences, and she pointed me to online resources like Men with Pens to further my education on the writing business.

  3. A writing coach gives me regular feedback

    According to the novelist JA Konrath, praise is like candy. You like it, but it’s not good for you.

    The only way I know if I’m improving as a writer is to get consistent feedback. I have a lot of writing friends, but I can’t rely on them to comment on my work regularly and track my progress.

    My writing coach points out my strengths, suggests what changes I need to make and keeps my writing tight and focused. Those criticisms help me serve my writing clients.

  4. A writing coach helps me attain my goals

    Even before she gave me a detailed critique of my work, my writing coach asked what goals I wanted to attain from the critique session. She also asked me where I want my writing career to go.

    Then she gave me a critique and suggested specific action points to help me achieve my goals.

    If you’re keen on having a writing coach, you might want to know how I met mine. The thing is, I haven’t! It’s impossible for us to meet in person, as we live in two separate continents.

    I found my writing coach through her blog. I liked her blog so much and enjoyed the fact that she’s serious about the craft of writing while building a business as a blogger. And oh, she’s a nice person, too! It’s easy for us to enjoy good rapport.

So here’s my last piece of advice before you hire a writing coach: Don’t limit your choice to a coach within your circle. The person may be physically located near you and share the same culture, but that doesn’t mean that person can help you as a writer and as an entrepreneur.

Find the right person who can help you achieve your goals, even if you only deal with them online.

Post by Prime Sarmiento

Prime is a journalist and freelance business blogger. She writes on learning and the craft of writing for online tutorial company AHEAD Interactive. You can follow her writing tips on Twitter.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. Great post, Prime — and welcome to the “I guest posted on Men with Pens” club (we’re thinking of making badges or something … ;-))

    You’ve covered all the benefits of coaching very clearly, and I absolutely agree with you that coaching is important even for experienced writers. I’ve been writing for years (and I’m a writing coach… ;-)) but I’ve hired a fiction editor/coach to help me with the final edit of my novel.

    One thing I’d add to your post: one-to-one coaching isn’t cheap, but many coaches/mentors/editors also offer group courses of some sort, and these can be a great starting point if you’re looking to learn more or just get some extra motivation.

    Good luck with all your writing! :-)

    • Speaking of group courses, stay tuned for an amazing upcoming offer from MwP…. :)

      Which, I’ll add, will have a badge. A very pretty one that says, “I am a damned fine writer and MwP says so.”

    • Prime, a wonderful post, thank you.

      Might I suggest anyone unsure about hiring a writing coach try a group coaching session? As Ali says, it offers coaching at a much lower rate, but it also comes with many additional benefits. An astute coach will foster a community attitude, encourage writers to share resources and even build a Mastermind community; the potential benefits far outweigh the cost. I’m involved in such a course, and I’ve been bowled over by the community aspect of it. This was something I hadn’t even considered when booking the course.

      Many thanks for a great post which has stimulated so much discussion!

      Allan

      • Hi Alan: Many thanks for reading and promoting this post. And yes I agree that a Mastermind group. i’ve been dying to join such a group, I just can;t find anything like that in Asia.

  2. Hi Ali:

    Well, you know “who” I’m talking about in this post ;). And yes we should really make that badge- I’m sooo happy to get this opportunity to guest post in Men with Pens.

    Yes, one on one coaching is not cheap but I think it’s one investment that can pay for itself.

    Cheers!

    Prime

    • Learning through a writing coach definitely pays for itself. My students have often used just one month of coaching to turn around and launch complete businesses, double their rates, and get in more clients than they thought they could.

      From a *writing coach* program. Not a business course, not a “how to blog”, but a literal “write to reach your audience and impress their pants off” program.

      Plus, my writing coach program is exactly the difference between private lessons and a group classroom. You get far, far more personally focused learning and more bang for your buck than had you attended some large group seminar.

  3. Hey Prime

    All GREAT points. And totally agree 100%.

    What I find really strange in the blogosphere is that the benefits of content marketing seem to be universally agreed upon. And there’s lots of info on developing content strategies, etc etc.

    But just about no-one is talking about IMPROVING the quality of the writing that underpins that content marketing. Most people ‘assume’ that writing every day – or writing regularly – will gradually improve their writing craft. Well it might, but it probably won’t.

    Here’s a clue – read about how top sportsmen and women train in any discipline. Do they just play their game? Or do they chunk their game down into small and specific areas and then focus on improving those small areas before moving onto other areas?

    Of course it’s the latter.

    Yet few content marketers or bloggers practice their writing in this way. A writing coach will definitely help you out. The money spent isn’t a cost, it’s a necessary investment IMO – yet an investment that few bloggers or content marketers are willing to make it seems.

    Paul

    • Paul! You hit the nail on the head. We run around telling people to write their web copy, their sales letters, their blog posts, their articles… but we don’t tell them HOW in the proper way. We say, “Use great headlines. Write in an engaging manner.” HOW?!

      Being a better writer is exactly like training to be a better athlete. It’s about honing the techniques that allow you to write well on demand and in a way that works. This is the type of subject matter I cover in my writing coach program (and upcoming course) – not “how to write” but “how to write damned well”.

      • James

        I’ve already said I agree totally – and I do! Getting better at anything is possible – and what’s more the precise methodology you need to employ was ‘decoded’ by a guy called Anders Ericsson.

        Ericsson is the guy who first codified the 10,000 Hour rule that Gladwell popularized in Outliers. What Gladwell glossed over in Outliers is that it’s not just 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery, but it’s 10,000 hours of a specific type of practice (that Ericsson called Deliberate Practice). My recommendation to anyone interested is to buy a book called TALENT IS OVERRATED by Geoff Colvin – read it several times, and then start applying the core principles of deliberate practice to your writing.

        One of those core principles you’ll be pleased to know is regular feedback – from a mentor or coach. It’s no coincidence that all the top sportsmen in the world have a team of coaches around them…everyone who aspires to get better needs one.

        Paul

        • Paul, great to see such insight on practice; I totally agree with you; it’s a topic which I often look into on my blog, effective practice for the time-starved golfer. The old adage “practice makes perfect” is wrong; practice makes permanent.

          So if we’re not careful, all of our practice could simply end up repeatedly reinforcing the SAME mistakes…as true in writing as it is in other disciplines…like golf!

          • Allan

            My primary application of deliberate practice up until recently has been to bass guitar. But I’ve recently started applying it to other disciplines. Be interested in checking out you blog later – as practicing techniques can often successfully cross to different disciplines.

            And I like to say: it’s not practice that makes perfect, it’s deliberate practice that makes perfect!

            Paul

          • Very agreed here, Allan. I wrote about the problems with writing often (ie, writing every day) in this post here: http://menwithpens.ca/dont-write-often/

            And it does mention that repeating an action without knowing whether it’s a good action to repeat only creates cemented bad habits. UGH.

        • Hmmmmm… now I have a new book to buy… ;)

        • Paul, I agree with all the things that you said and sometimes I’m really sad that a lot of bloggers (in the Philippines, anyway) will rather spend their time hanging out in Facebook than investing time and money on improving the craft of writing.

          In the interest of disclosure, I’d like to say that i invested over 10,000 hours deliberately practicing the craft of writing. I’ve been a professional journalist for 15 years and was very active in the campus newspaper during my college days (4 years). So let’s say i devote 2 to 3 hours a day writing (that’s a rough estimate, there are times I spend more) X 365 days X 19 years = that’s over 20,000 hours!!!! And yet, after spending 20,000 hours, I still feel it’s not enough to make a good blogger so i asked someone to help me.

          i don’t know if there are content marketers out there who invested such huge amount of time. If not , they can just get a coach like James or join a Mastermind group to speed up the process.

  4. Hi Prime,

    Hmm I think we might share the same writing coach.

    I think the key to sucess with any coach is time. Using Paul’s sports example a bit further – those sports men and women didn’t get great with just one coaching session – but multiple and consistent.

    And I agree that coaches can be costly, but the rewards are great as well

    Ainslie

    • Mmmm, actually, I’ll disagree. One single session can often create serious results, if you clearly know what the problem or roadblock symptoms are, and your writing coach is able to analyze that situation, spot the problem and provide targeted solutions.

      Yes, sticking with a private coach over 4 weeks can produce fantastic results – but getting a single session consultation can very often result in an “AH-HA!!!” moment that unblocks everything and busts through the dam holding you back.

      • I’d agree with James here — from personal experience on both the giving and the receiving end of coaching!

        I certainly think that consistent effort over time helps a lot, especially if you’re working on a big project (ebook, novel, etc) but a single, focused session can be perfect for hammering out a specific problem.

        • Well I will disagree with both of you because I would consider myself a slow learner. I like working at my own pace and those AHA moments don’t come quick.

          And I am ok with that.

          That said I have seen many people just ‘get it’ straight away. Damn those people.

          Ains

      • Can I agree with you both? :)

        The approach which may produce the best results is an intense opening session (a good 4 hours or more, to really get into it), followed by 6 months of low-key follow up to help you stay on course and get tough feedback. Such follow up can be by phone or even by email, although I prefer phone. After all, coaching normally targets a specific result and that needs tuning.

        This approach has worked best in writing and in business for me. I’m a certified executive coach myself (for top management) and I find this approach works for most busy people.

        I found both one-off coaching sessions and regular programs effective enough, but the first could be a bit too little and the last could become wasteful with time…

    • Ainslie< yes I do think we share the same coach. :)

  5. Today’s Domino Project: Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writing prompt, is to list your dreams and the steps to make them come true. For anyone who wants to write great content, Prime has given us great advice. Working with a mentor from Men With Pens or Ali Hale would be amazing. Can’t wait to hear about the course.

    • Thanks Mary! And I’m also lucky enough to have worked with great Filipino journalists who served as my mentors. They’re like my (freebie) writing coach, which I needed when I was younger and broke.

  6. Nathan Reese says:

    Reading this gets me thinking my web copy is in good hands :) But I already knew that didn’t I?

  7. Hi Prime,

    I’m also in agreement with hiring a writing coach.

    Hard to do things in a vacuum. Such a myth. We all need the listening, encouragement and suggestions of others. It takes our own knowledge & talents and expands them.

    My writing was almost there but not quite. I found someone who showed how to find my missing link. Bingo. I began my paid publishing journey.

    Same with design. My logos were almost there but not quite. I took an advanced logo design class that changed my design life and introduced me to another designer I’ve been cross-critiquing work with for eight years now.

    Lots of folks saying do this and do that, in this order and you’ll make a gazillion dollars. Yet, few can get there from where they are because it’s a journey where you meet wise folks along the way.

    Every writer I know shares his/her work with others to find the high and low points. Humans are social animals …

    thx for spot-on article, G.

  8. As someone who has taught basic writing at the high school level for over ten years, I never thought that I, too could benefit from a writing coach. Sometimes we can get caught up in our own egos and fail to realize that even professionals, in any field, can benefit from on-going regular training.

    I really enjoyed this post simply because it forced me to think about my own writing style and how I can improve, improve, improve.

    Shawn

  9. Hi Shawn:

    “Sometimes we can get caught up in our own egos and fail to realize that even professionals, in any field, can benefit from on-going regular training.” – yup I agree with this 100%. I was always thinking if professional athletes and singers have their own coach to improve their skills, why can’t I have the same privilege? After all, it never hurts to invest on anything that will benefit my business.

  10. The more you ask your writing coach how to keep your writings more tight and focused. the more you build your writings strengths and remain accurate .

    Ntarugera François

  11. Hi Prime,

    I’m really proud of you. Speaking here as a fellow Pinoy. :)

    Anyway, now I know that it’s really a big help to have someone coach us when it comes to writing. It’s actually an additional investment. So I do wish I could get someone for myself hopefully real soon..

    But anyway, thanks so much for the idea. Looking forward to learning from you more. May you keep inspiring us especially your fellow Pinoy bloggers. :)

    Cheers,
    Floricel

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  1. [...] the comments to Why hiring a writing coach can help you build your business James Chartrand let slip about an upcoming course Speaking of group courses, stay tuned for an [...]

  2. [...] Coaching is definitely an investment, but many bloggers find it a very worthwhile one. That applies even if you have a strong writing background. One of my own coaching clients, Prime Sarmiento, is an experienced journalist. She wrote about the benefits of getting coaching in a guest post for Men with Pens: Why Hiring a Writing Coach Can Help You Build Your Business. [...]

  3. [...] Coaching is definitely an investment, but many bloggers find it a very worthwhile one. That applies even if you have a strong writing background. One of my own coaching clients, Prime Sarmiento, is an experienced journalist. She wrote about the benefits of getting coaching in a guest post for Men with Pens: Why Hiring a Writing Coach Can Help You Build Your Business. [...]

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