And this is how thriving as a columnist is similar to selling

My column in the Business Daily, Sales Pitch, turns three today. Today’s piece is the 151st. This makes me reflect. Did I know what I’d write about today, 150 articles ago? Of course, not. Was I skeptical I might not have something to write about? Of course, yes. Yet, here we are today.  And in reflection, I choose respond to those who’ve shared a desire to write a weekly column and how similar the journey is, to selling itself.

 Patience, discipline, persistence and rejection

First, start by assuring yourself that you can write. And not just randomly, once, or twice; but consistently, weekly, and on time.  Do a 700 word piece for twelve consecutive weeks all for yourself. If you cannot come up with a fresh idea every week and meet the deadline for turning in the final copy, you will struggle as a prospective columnist. Your grammar may be impeccable and your message resourceful, but this is not a school composition. Writing weekly is more than grammar and content; in fact, that’s the easy part. The difficult one is the discipline. And when you submit an application to be a columnist, this discipline is what any editor (buyer) will test before he grants you a column (sale). At least that’s what happened with me.  The last thing he wants is to have a blank space to fill because you failed to come through. Worse, is what your inconsistency does to his publication’s brand (product). This does not mean that securing a column is a science; it’s not-it’s an art. I’m not an editor of any publication, but I can tell you from a writer’s perspective that it takes persistence and patience before you ultimately do secure a column-if at all you do.  Hmm…patience, persistence and rejection-sounds familiar to selling?

Being and remaining useful to the buyer

Make no mistake about it though. Consistently writing a fresh weekly column about one topic is not a cup of tea. You already have the wind behind your back because you are a natural. Or, you have gone for training and feel equipped. Again, that’s the easy part. This doesn’t exempt you from racing though. And the race in writing is done through research and personal experience. Research can be through reading and observations. Self-pride has no place in writing-you cannot be the repository of all knowledge. Others have written better, others worse. Reading widely enriches your repository and allows you to enrich your readers’ repository. And this is the purpose of writing in the first place. You are writing (selling) to a customer (buyer). To be useful to them, you cannot see yourself as the sole wherewithal of information.  Neither can you share what is obvious. I’m deeply encouraged when readers tell me they find this column practical. I like the sound of that. Practical.

 

Purpose

In my view, this is the most neglected aspect. Why do you want to write (sell)? It is the failure to address this purpose that many fall along the way. Like anything else worth doing, it cannot be for the money. As was shared last week, don’t write for the money-you’ll be sorely disappointed. Writing cannot sustain a lifestyle. Write because you have a passion for the topic; write because if you don’t, you’ll explode from the craving to; write because you want to create a brand for yourself. It is purpose that will keep you going when you have moments of blankness (and they will come) for what to write. Otherwise, the pressure for meeting the deadline will not be enough to jumpstart you. Likewise, the pressure for meeting sales targets is good for motivation but falls flat on its face when it meets a purposeless salesman. A purposeful one is driven by something else, and no it’s not just to make loads of cash; it could be recognition; a desire to help buyers thrive; perhaps competition; even a better lifestyle.  Purpose is internal; external factors only kick start it.

Thank you for being a part of Sales Pitch third anniversary! And enjoy your Easter holidays.

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