Q&A With a Freelance Writing Coach
Whether you’re an experienced freelance writer or just starting out in your career, you may have considered working with a coach to help you grow your business. Today there are a wide arra of coaching services available to freelance writers, at a variety of different price points. Programs can range from group study courses to one-on-one training sessions, and everything in between.
But what exactly do freelance coaches do, and who can benefit the most from these services? I interviewed Elizabeth Hanes, a freelance healthcare writer turned coach. Beth specializes in helping nurses and clinicians build careers as healthcare writers, but her advice applies to writers across all specialties and experience levels. Here’s what she had to say.
What exactly is a freelance writing coach?
That’s an interesting question, because some freelance writing coaches work with writers on the actual writing, while others (like me) focus more on the business aspect of freelancing. In my case, I teach nurses and other clinicians how to launch and grow a freelance business. My courses cover a small amount of actual writing techniques, but mostly I’m about the business side of things: prospecting, customer service, pricing your services – all that stuff.
Who is a good candidate for coaching?
Coaching is great for anyone who is trying to transition to a brand new industry (writing), stalled out in their writing career, or who enjoys collaborative problem-solving. It’s always nice to have an experienced mentor to bounce ideas and problems off of – because they’ve probably gone through something similar, too.
What does coaching actually look like? What services do you provide?
In my case, I provide hybrid course/coaching programs. All of my coaching is group coaching because it’s more affordable than private coaching, the synergy of the group is very motivating for participants, and the group enables people to get to know each other and make friends. My two group coaching programs are actually components of a pair of in-depth courses I offer: the Complete Guide to Content Marketing Writing for Nurses and RN2writer STAT: Next-Level Coaching to Grow Your Business to Six Figures Faster. I find that offering a course component greatly enhances the benefits of coaching.
How can writers benefit from working with a coach?
I think one of the biggest benefits to my coaching students is simply having someone by their side who has already gone through what they’re going through. I mean, when I transitioned from nurse to writer, I had literally no one to hold my hand. No one to answer questions I had or help me figure out how to get around the many obstacles that jump up when you’re trying to launch a writing business. My learning curve was so long, but my students’ learning curve, by contrast, is much shorter and smoother because I can help them avoid the most common pitfalls lying to ensnare them. On a more general level, I think writers can benefit from working with a coach for moral support, technical critique and improvement, problem solving, and a whole host of other things!
Is there an “entry level” option for people who just want to see if coaching is for them?
Most of my coaching clients start out in my self-study Health Journalism Basics for Nurses course, which doesn’t include coaching. Then, they subsequently invest in the content writing course (which does include coaching) because they now understand first-hand how much coaching would have benefited them in the journalism course. Also, in my case, I offer a 30-day no-questions-asked money back guarantee, so they definitely can try out the courses and coaching to see if it’s a good fit.
There are a lot of coaches out there, and some are really expensive. What are your tips for finding the right coach for you (and not wasting your money)?
Excellent question! First of all, I suggest people make sure the coach they’re considering actually has a background in the type of writing they’re now coaching others to do. For instance, if you’re looking for a coach to help you with a novel manuscript, does the coach you’re considering have a track record in commercially published novels? Or, in my specific case, I have actually earned my living as a writer and, in fact, routinely earned six figures per year as a nurse-writer. There are a couple of other “nurse writer coaches” out there who have never earned a living as a freelancer, let alone made six figures. How much value can you get, as a coaching client, from a coach who has never actually “walked the walk”? Also, I recommend people thoroughly vet any coach they’re planning on working with. Read their testimonials. Ask to speak to former clients. Reputable coaches will be happy to share contact information.
Do you have any tips for how writers can get the most value out of a coaching experience?
Come prepared to work. A coach’s role is not to do the work for you. Coaching is a collaborative effort. The coach will help keep you accountable to goals YOU set, provide advice, steer you in the right direction – but doing the actual work is still up to you. By all means bring your questions to the coach and take every opportunity to pick their brain. They’re there to share their expertise, so be sure to avail yourself of that!
Give us some free advice: can you share your top three tips that you give to your clients?
One: Set goals. You can’t hit a target you never set up. Two: Devote a defined amount of time to working on your business each day or week. Consistency matters in achieving your goals. If you discover you can “never find the time” to work on your writing business, then you need to reevaluate whether or not it is truly a priority for you – because we all make time for things we consider a high priority. Three: Reward yourself. I’m huge on rewards. Selling your first article or landing your first client is not reward enough. Draft up a list of small rewards to give yourself for achieving the smaller goals that contribute to your success, such as meeting your prospecting goal for the week or posting an article on LinkedIn once a week like you said you would. Rewards have a powerful motivational effect!