Are you an introvert? A lot of writers are. And I’m one of those shy writers.
You might think it’s a weakness that you’re not the super-social, outspoken type. Or that being an introvert leaves you nothing but low-paying crumbs to collect from mediocre clients. But that’s just not true.
I’m as guilty as the next introverted writer of postponing marketing at all costs to avoid social interaction. But a recent networking event made me realize that it’s time for introverts everywhere to rise up.
You can put your shy nature to work for you to make more contacts and land better clients. Seriously, you can do this.
If you’re an introvert like me, or you just want to get better at marketing, you can. When I learned how to handle marketing as an introvert, my business started to change.
I’ve had an influx of people interested in my services. I’ve been able to branch out to new markets. And I’ve been getting more inbound leads.
Shy writers: Here are four ways to get over your fears, stress less, and land more lucrative projects.
1. Listen for the sound of opportunity
At one networking event, I had someone ask me if I had ever thought about writing a book about myself instead of web content and blog posts for others. My response? “I’m a bit shy, so I prefer to tell other people’s stories.” This simple admission launched us into a conversation about book ideas. One guy in the group said he’s been thinking about writing a book for millennials interested in becoming entrepreneurs.
As he told me his stories, I tossed out a few ideas on how I would go about weaving his key points in with the vignettes he shared. From this conversation, I landed an important job lead and I’m now in contract negotiations for ghostwriting a book (my first!) for $10,000 over 5 months — all because I turned the focus back on telling other people’s stories.
2. Let your nametag do the work
People seem to assume writers are introverted. Put “Your Name, Writer” on your name tag and people will know a bit more about what they’re going to get when they approach you.
This simple little trick allowed one fellow networker to send several people my way. All evening I overheard him saying things like, “Oh really? You should go talk to her. She’s a writer.” All I had to do was stand there and I had a constant flow of people coming over to shake my hand and trade business cards.
You can also minimize how much you actually have to say by giving people in your vicinity a conversation starter. I added “www.rairosewriting.com” to my nametag and found that other people were willing to do the work for me by starting a conversation with “Rairosewriting.com? What do you write?”
From there, I just had to deliver my elevator pitch (which I practiced religiously for two days before the event).
And I’ve been using this strategy ever since. At another networking event, my nametag helped me connect with a woman who runs a non-profit organization who needs help with grant writing. My proposal for the project was $7,500. She didn’t bat an eye, and now it’s just awaiting board approval.
3. Let your passion shine
There’s nothing wrong with being introverted, and I found that many business owners expect to have a diverse team of varying personality types. It’s OK to let them know you have a passion for your work, but you struggle with being outgoing.
Dropping a line like, “I’m not very comfortable with in-person marketing, but I sure know my way around email marketing campaigns,” is a great way to tie a conversation back to your skills and your work.
You then have a perfect segue into, “Could I send you some samples?”
Even though I consider myself an introvert, I love helping people and businesses succeed and establish authority in their field. If you think you need a go-get-em-extrovert approach to do this, think again. I’ve been able to grow my business by creating valuable content for free. And it’s helped generate a steady stream of leads from the type of clients I want to work with.
4. Acknowledge your nerves
If you’re feeling like a buzzing ball of nervous energy, let people know you’re out of your comfort zone. Oftentimes, people don’t even notice that you’re nervous, and they’ll say so.
Not only will their reassurances serve as a release valve on your nerves, but also you’ll show them that you’re willing to try new things for the sake of growing your — and their — business.
While shy writers can sometimes feel like their personality is a huge internal obstacle in the freelance world, it doesn’t have to be. Embrace who you are and don’t apologize for it.
Are you an introverted freelancer? Share your best strategy for conquering your fears in the comments.
Rai Rose Cornell is a freelance writer who helps businesses build reputations through value-packed content.