Editor’s note: This post was written by Rachel MacDonald, a travel and lifestyle writer with over 7 years of experience navigating the ups and downs of freelance life.
Does it feel like someone’s hit the pause button on your freelance career? Are you finding it hard to secure new clients? Or are you thinking of taking your career to the next level by writing a book? There’s a veritable smorgasbord of DIY writing tools and helpful communities online, but sometimes it helps to speak to a real, live person who’s successfully achieved the career goals that you’re aiming for.
Many professional writers turn to writing coaches or mentors at some point in their career, whether it’s for advice or a general motivational kick in the pants.
But coaching doesn’t come cheap. When do the results justify the cost of a writing mentor, and how do you know if this approach is right for you?
Reasons to hire a coach
In a group writing class, you may have to spend time working on areas that you already consider strengths and skip over areas that might be weaknesses. A mentoring session provides one-on-one instruction, giving you focussed attention on the areas you need help with most. In many ways, a writing mentor serves many of the same purposes as any career coach, in that they help you present yourself in the best possible way. This could include giving you the confidence you need to send out effective pitches, which could lead to more work in the future. A good coach gives you the tools you need to handle challenges in your writing career, and overcome roadblocks with actionable goals. They can give you a fresh pair of objective eyes for your work, giving insight into the viewpoint of the editors and clients you’re trying to impress.
Assess the cost
Just as writers charge a wide range of fees for their services, so do mentors. The cost will depend on a coach’s experience, as well as the type of experience you’re in need of. For a general phone consultation, you won’t be too far out of pocket. However, in-depth coaching over a longer term period could cost anything from a few hundred dollars a month to upwards of $10,000. At this level, it’s vital to think about how much you expect to earn and whether you can fit this cost into your business budget. Don’t forget that there are numerous resources online available for free as you’re just starting out – a coach is really to take you to the top of your game.
Find the right fit
The cost is just one facet of coaching to think about. It’s important to sit down and define your goals as a writer before you even start the process of looking for a mentor, because this allows you to find the right fit for your needs. It’s best to look for a mentor who has already achieved the goals you’re setting for yourself. Look for a mentor or coach who is experienced in your particular writing niche, whether it’s food writing, historical fiction, or digital marketing.
The next step is to check this person’s credentials carefully. The last thing you want is a mentor who has embellished his or her resume in a bid to make a money off of gullible newbie writers. Read each mentor’s work to get a feel for their writing styles, and determine whether this might mesh well with your own. Ask for client references and testimonials, and follow up with these. Writing coaches should be happy to answer any questions you might have via a phone, email, or in-person interview before you hire them.
Not every writer needs a coach, but when you’re feeling stuck and need guidance to bring your A-game this can be a worthy investment. Just be sure to explore all your options carefully to find a coach who not only fits within your budget, but understands what you’re trying to achieve and has the experience to back up their advice