Last week the Ragan Speechwriters Conference brought together many of the industry’s biggest names. At its conclusion, five expert panelists convened to offer a Speechwriters’ Survival Guide.
In the audience was freelance speechwriter and blogger Ian Griffin, who dutifully recorded the panel and what he deemed were the 16 most important pieces of business, speechwriting and freelance writing advice given by the five participants.
Whenever the top names in speechwriting have something to say, Inkwell Strategies listens. So, we decided to give our take on their advice with a series analyzing the different tips offered by the panel.
To start off, today’s post is about “the best of the rest” – tips that are useful, but not quite significant enough to warrant their own entire article. Starting tomorrow we will begin our countdown of the Survival Guide Panel’s five most important pieces of advice.
So, without further ado, here are the best of the rest:
Be known for something, develop your expertize in a specialized niche. People need to believe you are good at something before they’ll believe you are good at everything.
This is more of a business tip than a writing tip, but its application is universal. In any profession, the best way to market oneself is to develop a skill to the point where you can simply say “I’m a _____.” Whether that “blank” is filled with “speechwriter,” “contractor,” or “ballet dancer,” it’s important to have that identifiable, professional quality strength.
Don’t follow in footsteps of old school, cynical writers who would hammer out a speech for anyone with the bucks to hire them. Connect with what you are passionate about. Connect with your industry, connect with other speechwriters.
The best writing comes from the heart. Granted, only a very small and lucky majority can love and agree with every aspect of their profession, but this ideal is something that everyone should strive for, especially writers. Written expression has an artistic quality about it that, if stifled too long by boring, uninspired work, can atrophy.
Juice your creativity with simple, practical writing exercises. Example: Describe everything you can about a chalkboard, now list the ways these qualities are like love (both are easily erased, never quite clean, leaves some dust in the air).
Fun little games like this one prevent repetition by inspiring new ways to express ideas. They keep even the best writers on their toes and help them better serve their clients. Plus, the panelist forgot to mention that chalkboards, like love, are also usually in shades of grey and are often found in classrooms.
-Freelancer’s must know what their monthly ‘nut’ is – how much do you need to earn to pay the bills?
-Expect to charge between $5,000 – $12,000 for a high-stakes speech and if you write fast and limit the re-writes you can earn $600/hr.
These two go hand-in-hand. The key here is to attribute the proper value to yourself and your services. $600/hr can earn anybody a decent living, but not every service is as valuable as the type of speech that costs $12,000 to write. Hopefully, at the end of the month, you’ve got a little cash left over from food and rent costs.
Danny Fersh is a Senior Associate at Inkwell Strategies. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.