The One Trait All Successful New-Media Writers Share

What does it take to be successful in today’s world of blogging, Web content and online articles? This question was on my mind yesterday as I listened and learned at a writers’ conference in Seattle sponsored by my local Society of Professional Journalists.

I was a presenter on a panel called “Diversify or Die! — How to Expand Your Services.” We panelists had varied experience — one had moved into PR, and another had a side business selling his photos.

As we told our stories, though, a common thread emerged. At some point over the past few years, someone had approached us and asked us to write something different. A type of writing we’d never done before. In one case, it was press releases. In another, it was doing radio. For me, it was ghost blogging for a company founder.

We all had the same reaction to this out-of-the-blue writing opportunity: “Sure! I think I can do that.”

In every case, that response led us in new directions that diversified our writing careers and increased our income.

All the successful writers shared an openness to new ideas. Our reaction to being presented with an unexpected new challenge was curiosity and even excitement. We were willing to stretch our writing in new directions when opportunity presented itself.

In short, we were flexible. We had career goals and plans, but when something different came along, we were willing to try that path as well.

In the questions at the end of our panel, we heard a lot of questions that started like this: “I worry about trying this new thing because….” or “I’m afraid if I try adding this type of writing, it’ll cause a problem…”

My answer? “Stop worrying. You see an opportunity? Just try it!”

In talking about the conference afterward with my husband, I realized that in our fast-changing media world, flexibility is the key. People with rigid mindsets about what journalism is, where and how reporting should happen, what kind of writing they do, what an article should pay, are being left behind. Those willing to keep an open mind and try new things are flourishing.

What’s your new-media mindset? Have you tried a new type of writing lately? Leave a comment and fill us in.

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Photo via Flickr user wsilver

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2 comments on “The One Trait All Successful New-Media Writers Share
  1. Perry Rose says:

    I do not know if this is a “new type of writing,” but rarely do I see commentary/how-to articles. It seems that it is either one or the other.

    Then again, maybe they are right there in front of my tired, ol’ face and I can’t see them?

    And if there are such articles, it seems like they are far and few between.

    I would think that combining the two would draw in more (repeat) readers.

    Many like to read or listen to someone talk about something of interest. Or, hell, not even of that much interest. Look at Andy Rooney, on 60 Minutes. Throw in “how-to-do-this” advice….

    Like you pointed out, we should try to be more flexible in our thinking, think outside the box, but don’t ya think that many editors don’t, which would have us getting more rejections?

    I’m hesitant on pitching a commentary/how-to article or any other kind of writing idea/style for their readers, because of so many do not think outside the box.

    I think that this is one of the biggest reasons why so many magazines and newspapers are losing more and more readers. … It’s the same ol’ same ol.’ The recession just woke the readers up. Many get to thinking along the lines of: Okay, why am I even reading this thing anyway???

    I’d love to write for magazines, both off and online where its editors have innovative thinking, but….

    Okay, I’ll shut up now.

  2. Carol Tice says:

    Hi Perry –

    If you read the post carefully, I think you'll see that in each case I described, the writers were approached by someone wanting us to do a type of writing we hadn't previously done. It wasn't a question of our trying to make a media outlet change what it was doing.

    The question of what publications should run on their pages these days is an interesting one…but I think a whole different topic.

    But if you're looking for a new place to write opinion…check out my blog on BNET! CBS Interactive GETS IT. 9 million monthly viewers can't be wrong… :-)

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