Authors and Aspiring Authors!

Monday, August 26, 2013

How Miley Cyrus is Helping Freelance Writers

A while back when Miley Cyrus cut off all her hair and dyed it blonde she made headlines. She was trying something new and getting lots of attention for it. Then last night during the 2013 MTV VMAs, Miley made waves by being so outrageous, there was no way her behavior wouldn’t send the internet buzzing.

Before judging her too harshly though, let’s look at the facts. She’s putting different words together, wearing more risqué attire and proving that the 14 year old girl who first hit the scene as the ever positive and campy Hannah Montana has grown up. The woman is just shy of legal drinking age and she’s looking to go the way of more adult concepts and ideals.

But here’s the thing. Her profession, what she’s known for, hasn’t changed one bit. She’s still writing and performing. Still singing. Her point of view and style may be different but Miley is still a specialist.

So how does this help freelancers you might ask?

Many freelancers have gone back and forth for decades about the argument for being either a generalist or a specialist. Some feel that if you spread your skills around to many different niches that you’re going to have a bigger pool of clients to choose from - generalist. Others, however, think that by keeping your skills so widely varied you’re not able to become an authority in anything – specialist - and will lose out on clients to freelancers who have pin-pointed their skill set.

It’s a tough argument to be sure because there are pros and cons to both sides.

But if there’s anything Miley has taught us it’s that you don’t have to be boring to be a specialist. Just because you choose one avenue to pursue it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to shake things up and make some headlines of your own.

Is it better to stay in the spotlight for all the (seemingly) wrong reasons?

As a Freelancer myself I’ve essentially narrowed my writing to two distinct niches – content marketing and freelance blogging. As a specialist I can hone in on exactly where a client is lacking in their content or blogs and offer my services to help them better their visibility.

But this doesn’t mean it has to be boring or stale. Because just like Miley, sometimes I’m really in the mood to shake things up and prove my chops while still sticking in the same niche.

I’m still a content marketing specialist whether I write the web copy for a paint removal company or articles for a socially responsible company profile site. My goals are the same – to position the company I write for with the highest quality content possible so their visitors/customers will see the benefits in their products or services.

Does that change if I decide to write blog posts for an adult site? Or does it speak higher about my skills if I offer my blog writing services to an automotive company instead? I say no because keeping your name in front of the industry you want to be a part of has become increasingly more difficult the more people who enter it. And that’s why specializing is key.

So what if controversy fuels your fire?

Miley knows that regardless of the controversy, her lyrics can be a powerful tool. She’s a writer, a singer and a performer. She wakes up every day ready to do her job whether that’s entering the spotlight with lyrics like this:

“Fantastic and romantic, all a big surprise
You've got the warning hesitation pushed aside
It's sooner than I want but you caught my heart
I guess I'm ready now to start, I'm gonna start all over!”

Or for being controversial for how she put together last night's performance to lyrics like this:

“To my home girls here with the big butts
Shaking it like we at a strip club
Remember only God can judge us
Forget the haters cause somebody loves ya”

Just like Miley who started out singing on her hit Disney show, freelancers will sometimes take the path first offered to them in order to break into the field. But, remember that Miley is still just a writer, singer and performer. Because as we freelancers start to gain a name for ourselves sometimes it might seem like we need to go put that name in as many places as possible.

Miley Cyrus proves that it’s better to specialize in one thing (do it well) and people will remember you than to run around doing countless things and dilute the name you’ve built.

So for me I will stick with being a content marketing and blogging specialist because I feel that, over time, my command of the niche I write for will be my strongest asset.

In the end our words are what make us writers. What we do with those words and how we approach the market we want to be a part of is what determines if we’ll be a generalist or a specialist.
Do you specialize or generalize? Is that where you started out in your freelancing career? How has your chosen path helped or hurt you in your years as a freelancer?

Share your experiences in the comments.

Copy and text effects added by me in Photoshop.

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Content Marketing Strategist and Blogger for hire Jenn has over 12 years of freelancing experience. Follow her antics on twitter @jennshon

1 comment:

Ann Videan said...

I love your comparison, and the lesson for freelancers. Tying into a timely topic, too, shows your expertise in how to make your writing more visible. Kudos, Jenn.