My first reaction was to write a headline. OHMYGOD! Seth Godin came by! And then proceed to gush about how I felt when The. Seth. Godin. added his words to mine on the blog. I was tempted to write as if I were engaged in the Snoopy happy dance, cheering and clapping and jumping with glee. What in the world did *I* do to rate the visit?
That was my first reaction. My second reaction is one that I’ve been having frequently. Instead of being completely flustered and overwhelmed and, well, obsequiously grateful, I tried to examine what this means in terms of me being a business owner.
I’m trying to make the leap from being a writer-hobbiest to being a writer-professional. This is my business. Instead of squealing with delight and wagging my tail, I need to stop and act like a business person. It perhaps shouldn’t strike me as so extremely farfetched that The. Seth. Godin. would stop by, since I did link to one of his posts yesterday. Any business person would, of course, be thrilled to be noticed by The. Seth. Godin. But a business person wouldn’t necessarily transform herself into a 12-year-old Harry Potter fan at a J.K. Rowling book signing.
Another example: Recently a potential client asked me for some case studies of how my marketing techniques had helped someone’s ROI. My first reaction was, “Well, I don’t know for sure because I’m brand new, but I just *know* this will help you.” I almost typed that to the client, but I waited a day instead. During the day, I thought about his question, and I was finally able to figure out a case study that showed a marked improvement for my former company.
When I decided to strike out alone as a professional copywriter, I kept reading about putting together my samples into a portfolio. My first thought was that I had absolutely nothing. I had been in sales/marketing for many years with one company, a director of education for a nonprofit before that. I hadn’t written full time since grad school, and many of my newspaper clips were literally yellow. I didn’t have any experience, I thought. Nothing relevant. And I tried to think of ways to play down my lack of experience.
My worst idea: I was going to send out a postcard that had a picture of a half-filled glass of water. The front would read, “The pessimist says, ‘Gee, she doesn’t have much experience yet.’” The back: “The optimist says, “Yeah, but I bet she’s still cheap.’”
Yeah. It was that bad. But within a couple of days, I found several dozen examples of flyers, brochures, articles, press releases, white papers, postcards… All perfect examples of the kind of work I do. So that postcard never materialized, and I have a professional portfolio I can bring to show potential clients, plus plenty of samples on my website.
The point here is that in order for people to take me seriously as a professional writer, I need to take myself seriously. I need to take off the “I’m not worthy” t-shirt and replace it with a pinstriped suit. When I truly believe that I’m a professional who can help people with their businesses, other people will believe me as well. It’s not really about *false bravado.* It’s more about the true conviction that a business owner should have that her products and services are really worth something.
Thus, I want to thank Mr. Godin for dropping by because I really do admire his work (I just finished Purple Cow). And I will continue to use his principles to try to stand out in a crowd. He’s invited back anytime to contribute.
(But I did call my mother.)