If You Can Write a 5, 7 or 10 Item Grocery List
You Can Turn Your Words into Prospects, Publicity and Profits
One of the many blessings of being a self-employed professional is that I get to do many different things every day. Here is a sampling:
Full-time marriage and family therapy practice, free from managed care for 10 years
Relationship coach for singles and couples
President of BuildingYourIdealPractice.com and practice-building coach
Nationally syndicated relationship columnist
Author of several books, booklets, e-programs and e-books
Internet entrepreneur with 8 websites, and almost that many in development
Now please understand, I’m not trying to impress you, but I do want to impress something upon you. I share this with you to highlight this one fact-There is one theme that runs through every one of these business activities that has greatly contributed to my success……That one thing is…………. Writing Articles!
And this from a guy who never finished his dissertation because I was convinced that I could not write. (That’s right, I’ve got the Ph (piled higher) but not the D (deeper) 😉 In 1994, I was your basic marriage and family therapist, struggling to keep clients on the books and wondering how I was going to respond to the onslaught of managed care that had finally reached my area of the country.
At that point, the local newspaper had been running a weekly mental health column in the Health section for a few years. There had been three writers up to this point, with the contract being somewhere between 6 months and a year.
Each of these columnists had written dry academic stuff like “What is manic-depression?” or “What is obsessive compulsive disorder?” I had written two pieces for the local psychiatric center; one on parenting adolescents and one on stress.
So when the time came around to open up the Mental Health Columnist position again, I applied. And got turned down.
Even worse, someone else in my practice got it. Further evidence in my mind that I really could not write. A year later, the position was open again. Being a stubborn and persistent sort, I applied again and got it! So now I was faced with having to come up with a column each and every week.
Well, I thought, at least it’s only for six months. So I just began writing about the things I saw around me in my practice and my world. Somewhere in that first 6 months, Knight-Ridder/Tribune Media Services picked it up and began to syndicate it nationally and internationally. The first six months passed, and they wanted me to continue to write it. The second six months, (one year) passed, and they still wanted me to write it.
That was ten years ago, and I’ve long ago lost track of how many places my articles appear. The reason for my telling you this story is to communicate as strongly as I can:
You Can Do This!
In fact, if you can write a 10 item grocery list, you can write an article. Writing articles results in………..1) Prospects – Having your writing appear in any publicly offered medium newspapers, magazines, web sites (even your own!), books, e-books, e-programs, etc. makes you the expert in the eyes of the public. Being perceived as an expert brings you prospects.
2) Publicity – I live and practice in Tallahassee, Florida, which is in Leon County. The last time I counted, thanks to three universities and many people wanting to live here, there are approximately 76 Clinical Members of The American Association for Marriage & Family Therapy in Leon County.
The joke in Tallahassee is that you are either a therapist or in therapy, or both.
For comparison, in Orange County, Florida (Orlando, Disney, etc.) there are only 87 Clinical Members of AAMFT.
The point is that the competition for clients in Tallahassee is tight. So why have I been able to run a full practice completely managed-care and insurance-free for the last 10 years?
The main reason is that I have written a weekly relationship column for the last ten years and I am “the guy in the paper.”
3) Profits – Because writing makes you the expert, you are then able to charge what you believe you are worth, no one blinks, and you get it. And that is just the source of income that comes from sitting in my chair with clients every day. Because an article can become an e-program, a feature in your own and other newsletters, a book, an e-book, a presentation, etc. writing results in passive income that you can earn while sleeping or having fun. So now it is time to back up that claim I made a few paragraphs ago – remember?
If you can write a 10 item grocery list, you can write an article. The Jeff Herring 5 and 5 Approach to Writing an Article Get Ready: What is your area of expertise? What is your niche? What excites you?
Whatever your answer to the question above, here is the next question: First Five: Thinking of your ideal client in your niche, what are five of the signs that they need your kind of service?Write down those five signs or symptoms.
Second Five: Now, what are five solutions or things you would recommend that this person do?Write down those five solutions or things to do. All that is left to do is to add a few lines to each of the five symptoms and to each of the five solutions.
Just think of it as putting some meat on the skeleton you just sketched out. You now have what could be your very first article! The five and five approach is just one of the 20 templates I use for creating your own stream of articles, included in my My Express-Start Article Authoring Program.
Jeff Herring & Associates