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By William Ballard
I don't know about you, but not knowing how to do something has never really stopped me from setting out to do it, regardless. Here is a little bit of transparency for you: I've failed more than I have succeeded.
I recently became aware of a relatively new book entitled, “Failure: Why Science is So Successful” (AFF). It's a pretty profound title, I know. The gist of the book is basically presenting the fact that science is only as successful as it is because of it's failures. I am kinda of getting off topic here, but I will be writing another post real soon about the Power of Failure, but until then…
To be honest, I am completely convinced that anybody can become competent, and even the “go-to” expert at just about any subject. You see, there are books, cassettes (I'm sure some still listen to them), courses, teachers, mentors, newsletters, associations, and absolute abundance of information linked to virtually any and every skill or ability (or occupation) you can possibly think of.
And, believe it or not, a good majority of that information and knowledge is readily available, and free for that matter.
I am frequently amazed and dismayed at the number of people who have sought me out to ask questions about a certain topic, but by asking a few simple questions of my own, I find that they have yet to do an ounce of homework or their own research. You see, being a freelance writer (or just a writer in general) is just as much about research as it is about writing.
If you have done nothing along the lines of study and research for your next article… I am sorry to put it bluntly… but if you insist on behaving unlearned or uneducated-ly, you don't deserve positive results. You see, ignorance is forgivable, fortunately, fixable. However, stupidity is another issue altogether.
The Serious Freelance Writer At Work
When I first started my writing career I wasn't sure where to begin. I wasn't sure what kind of writer I wanted to be. Like most aspiring writers, I wanted to try and pen the great American novel and in doing so I cam across an amazing writer and author by the name of K.M Weiland and her blog, “Helping Writers Become Authors”. I became a big follower of K.M Weiland and tried my best to absorb as much information from her about story telling, developing characters, and creating scenes, like a sponge, as I could.
That's when I became aware of Carol Tice at the Freelance Writer's Den (AFF), and began following her blog, “Make a Living Writing”. And, as I did with K.M Weiland, I did everything I could to absorb as much information about freelance writing from Carol Tice as I could. I even invested in joining her Freelance Writer's Den membership site (AFF) in order to get some advanced training in this subject.
In short, these two ladies became serious mentors of mine and I give a lot of the credit of the success of my writing career to these two ladies.
That is just two mentors of mine that have had a hand in making my writing career what it is today. If I was to write a list of all the mentors that I have learned from, and grown from, we would be here for weeks (maybe even months). You should really see my library!
Some other subjects that I have become a serious student of are:
To be honest with you, if you were to log all the hours and knowledge that I have gained over the years on these subjects (and many others) you could say that I have a Doctorate or PH.D in most of these subjects (if not, all).
One of the first things I do when working with a new freelance writing clients or copywriting client is subscribe to as many trade journals of that clients particular industry. I also read as many articles as I can about the subjects that client is wanting me to touch on. I read as many books as I can find on the subject. I thoroughly study my clients materials. I even go above and beyond and learn the lingo that that client and his or her industry speaks.
To this day, I can pretty much sit down with a new writing client, absorb as much information as possible, and then walk into that clients industry and give a seminar or write several articles (or blogs), or even a book on the main topics and subjects of that industry and no one would question my status as an expert.
Understand, I don't say all this to brag, but to make a very powerful point: It doesn't take much to acquire expertise in a given field or area, if that is what you want to do. However, it just amazes me how many aspiring writers never even bother. No one ever said being a writer would be easy!
If not knowing about something stands between you and what you want to accomplish, get busy, and go get that know-how. It really is that simple!
7 Ways to Get Smarter in Any Subject – FAST!
1) Read a year's back issues of a related trade or specialty magazines.
Every business, industry, occupation, vocation, hobby, or special interest – from writing to computer programing, from cooking to carpentry, from sports cars to golfing, from dog breeding to book publishing – has one, in most cases, several magazines. In this magazines experts write articles, are interviewed, share how-to secrets, and also share advertisements for even more advanced learning material.
2) Respond to as many of the ads in these magazines as you can.
Some of the ads are lead generation type ads which means the information that you receive is free. Therefore, let all those advertises try to sell you their products and services. Soon, you will be engulfed in usable and resourceful information, all coming to you for free.
3) Find top experts, successful people, and top influencers in the field that you are interested in.
Some people have probably written books, recorded audio programs, offer seminars or coaching and consulting services, or they may even be approachable to talk to or visit with for free. Seek out the best and the brightest and find out how you can turn their experience into your knowledge. Believe it or not, even in competitive fields, these generous outspoken experts and super achievers do exist.
And if you are interested in the writing industry you should really grab a seat at The Writer's Round Table, it is my free eNewsletter where I share some of my most advanced insights and training that I do not necessarily share in my blog posts. And I offer this resource absolutely free.
4) Find the books written by the “Old Greats” and cherish them like they were gold.
Just about every field has its “Old Greats”, whose works are hard to find, or even out of print. Many of these invaluable works are ignored and passed by time as being no longer important. They're wrong!
I believe, in the selling field, every salesperson should read books by Frank Bettger, Red Motley, Robert Trailins, just to name a few from the 1950's and 40's. In fact, Robert Trailins' “old book”, “Dynamic Selling (AFF)” published by Prentice- Hall a long time ago, now only to be found in libraries and used bookstores, offers better advice on crafting powerful appointment-getting presentations than by any book, seminar or course that I am aware of.
In direct-response marketing and copywriting, today's top pros like Gary Halbert, Ted Nicholas, and Dan Kennedy constantly refer novices to the “old works” of Robert Collier, Claude Hopkins, Victor Schwab, and many others that date back to the 1930's.
In fact, Dan Kennedy is getting to that “Old Copywriting Legend” status himself and I would highly recommend his book on selling: No B.S. Sales Success in The New Economy (AFF). For marketing, No B.S. Direct Marketing For Non-Direct Marketing Businesses, as well as his books, The Ultimate Marketing Plan (AFF), and The Ultimate Sales Letter (AFF). And for entrepreneurs, read No B.S. Business Success (AFF) and No B.S. Wealth Attraction For Entrepreneurs (AFF).
5) Join Trade associations or clubs.
When it comes to information overload, think of trade associations or clubs as the “learning curve shortcuts”. The amount of information and the steps to implementation that you gain from attending conventions and workshops through these shortcuts is remarkable. Not to mention the opportunity to make hundreds and hundreds of new important and beneficial connections is even greater.
Many national associations have state, regional, or city “chapters”, with easily accessible meetings and seminars, usually at a very generous and modest cost. If you are interested in writing for example (which I assume you are since you are reading this article), The National Writers Club has Chapters in most states.
Another association and club that I would highly recommend is the Glazer/Kennedy Insider Circle which now has local chapters and local group meetings, and you can find out more information about them HERE (AFF).
6) Enroll in a class, workshop, or seminar
Believe it or not, Community Colleges are getting more and more progressive and competitive in their class offerings and their use of bona fide, real world experts as instructors. Not to mention, the seminar organization, The Learning Annex, with operations in many major cities, offers the most diverse array of courses I have ever seen – everything form how to start and import/export business to how-to buy and sell antiques. Pretty much, any field or subject that you may be interested in, there is somebody giving a class, workshop, or seminar for it.
In fact, there is a bona fide expert who takes a few people at a time fishing for a week, at $5,000 a person, and teaches them “how a fish thinks” so that they can catch more fish at any given time. Laugh if you must, but this guy is for real, and was the subject of a very successful TV infomercial.
7) Do your homework!
As a writer your favorite place in the whole wide world should be the public library. Most major city libraries have self-serve, easy to use computer systems, so you can type in any topic and find all the books, articles, and other resources related to it. There is a master directory published for every subject you can possibly imagine, and if you can't find one in your area of interest, there's a 'Directory of Directories' to help you.
That's it. If you want to become the go-to expert for any field of study, then these are the seven ways to accomplish that feat.
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About William Ballard
Freelance Writer, Copywriter, Professional Blogger, and Author of the True Writer's Life, William Ballard, helps small businesses and entrepreneurs, like you, broadcast their message across the Internet (and offline) and be seen as experts in their field. He has recently been dubbed the Expert Marketer of Writing - Led Generation Specialist.
William, a writer and content creator since 2007, enjoys sharing with others his experience on how to become a successful writer, blogger, and author. View more about William Ballard →
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