Running a Different Kind of Writing Business

Running a Different Kind of Writing Business

There’s a story I’ve come across a few times, most recently in the excellent book Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

When Steve Jobs was looking for a logo for his company NeXT, he turned to renowned graphic designer Paul Rand—known for his work on the logos of IBM, UPS, Westinghouse and other famous brands.

The story goes that Jobs asked Rand to come up with a few options. But little did he know that Rand didn’t work that way. He told Jobs, “I’m not going to do that. I will solve your problem for you. And you will pay me. And you don’t have to use the solution. If you want options, go talk to other people. But I will solve the problem the best way I know how. And you use it or not. That’s up to you.”

Jobs ended up hiring Rand, who did indeed solve the problem by creating the perfect logo for NeXT.

There’s a very powerful lesson in this story.

When you know how and why you can help your clients solve their problems—when you know why you do what you do so well and why you want to do more of that (and less of the stuff that doesn’t allow you to leverage your true genius)—you need to stand your ground.

You need to have a set of standards and you need to communicate those standards, even when doing so puts you at risk of losing a prospect or a client.

Because every time you bend and every time you let a client cross a boundary that’s important to you, you lose something. You lose the respect of good clients. You start feeling like you’re not making the biggest contribution you could be making.

And little by little your confidence starts wearing down. Which impacts your performance. Which impacts your income. Which creates a vicious cycle of negative performance.

The lesson here is not necessarily to do or say exactly what Rand did in this situation. It’s not about that. It’s not about copying that script, because this is not a “technique.”

It’s a philosophy. A mindset. A way of making decisions based on a core set of values that you’ve chosen to live by.

The idea is to have a strong beacon to guide your decision-making—a model of how you need to think and act in order to grow and be happy in your business.

For example, say you no longer want to do one-off projects for new clients because you’re only interested in working with clients who are looking for a longer-term solution. If and when you come across someone who only wants help with one marketing piece and isn’t interested in more, that’s the time to stand your ground.

You can explain that you work a little differently from most other writers. You focus on clients that are looking for more of a longer-term content partner. That way you can help them get a significant return on their content marketing efforts.

Here’s another example. My friend and colleague Jennifer Goforth Gregory says something really powerful when she talks with a new prospect for the first time. Here she is describing what she does in her own words:

At the beginning of every potential client call, after the pleasantries and small talk, I say the following: ‘I’m at the point in my career where I can pick my clients so this meeting is really important to me to make sure that we are the right fit for each other.’

 The whole tone of the meeting immediately shifts. The single sentence turns me from a freelancer looking for work to a successful business owner. And instead of the client interviewing me, we were now equals. And now I instantly raise my value to the client. Not only am I successful enough to be able to pick and choose, but I’m also confident enough in my abilities to take charge of the meeting.

It’s now a meeting, two professionals deciding if they are a fit to work together. It’s no longer an interview, but a conversation.

These are examples to get you thinking. You have to decide what’s right or wrong for you. And you need a way to think about and communicate this with clients … with confidence.

I love this story of Steve Jobs and Paul Rand (and Jennifer’s example!) because it’s a reminder that we ALL have the choice to work the way we want to work, at least to a greater extent than we are now. But we’re usually telling ourselves a different story.

A story of “can’t” and “shouldn’t.” A story that’s probably not serving us … or the client.

When you start thinking the way Paul Rand did, you start seeing possibilities for your business. You start getting clarity about where you need to go—where you need to start shifting.

And that will begin to drive your daily decisions and behavior. Which will generate better and better results for you.


By the way … whenever you’re ready, here are 4 ways I can help you grow your freelance business:

1. Grab a free copy of my book.
It’s called Earn More in Less Time: The Proven Mindset, Strategies and Actions to Prosper as a Freelance Writer. The title says it all. 😉 — Click Here

2. Get my Business-Building Toolkit.
Too many freelancers lack a critical set of business skills that would enable them to earn more in less time doing work they love for better clients. I’ve taught these skills to my coaching clients for years. And now I’ve packaged it in a way that will enable you to start getting results FAST. — Learn More

3. Join my implementation program and be a case study.
I’m putting together a new implementation group this month. If you’re earning $5k+/month (or the part-time equivalent) from your freelance business … and you’d like to grow your income quickly with better clients … just hit reply and put “Case Study” in the subject line.

4. Work with me privately.
If you’re a 6-figure writer who’s trying to earn more in less time, with less stress, I might be able to help you get there faster than you think. Just hit reply, put “Breakthrough” in the subject line, and I’ll get back to you with more details.