What is a Writing Coach, and Should You Hire One?
The right writing coach can be one of the best investments you'll ever make in yourself and your business.
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Writing coaches existed long before the pandemic, but it seems like so many came out of the woodwork in the spring of 2020. A writing coach can be a great asset to an entrepreneur, even if they don't intend to write a book or other piece of long-form content. Like anything else, it's important to do your homework before working with a writing coach.
Writing coaches aren't just for books
While my official title is book development coach and consultant, I work as a writing coach in other capacities upon request. One client of mine is a money mindset coach. She wanted to improve her ability to write emails, PowerPoint slides for webinars and sales pages rather than hiring someone to write them for her.
Many entrepreneurs would rather just hire a copywriter than learn how to do it themselves. But, there are plenty of people who feel they know their audience the best. Yet, they don't necessarily have the writing skills to properly communicate the value of their product or service.
When I work with this client, she sends me her emails, slides and sales pages before our Zoom call. I share my screen while we discuss what I would change (and I make those changes for her, essentially putting on my editing and writing hats). The sessions are recorded so she can go back to them at any time. I email the completed documents to her at the end of our session.
Over about a year of working together, I've seen marked improvements in her copywriting. In fact, she doesn't need me as much anymore — which is a good thing. (I'm not one of those coaches who wants people to feel they can only succeed if they're constantly paying me money for help.)
Related: 4 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Editor for Your Business
Writing coaches can also serve as business coaches
Occasionally, people come to me hoping to become freelance writers. Again, I walk them step by step on how to identify their ideal client, improve their existing writing skills, create a portfolio and pitch to prospective clients.
With my book coaching clients (the majority of my coaching business), I also teach them how to turn that book into a lead generating machine for their businesses, book podcast interviews, be consistent and engaging on social media and so much more.
Related: How Podcast Interviews Can Help You Make More Money
Some writing coaches are great book coaches, but some aren't
As I've discussed in past Entrepreneur articles, not all writing coaches are created equal. And not all are qualified to guide people step by step through the process of writing and publishing a book.
Taking someone from book idea to final chapter wasn't something I knew how to do at the beginning of my professional writing, editing, teaching and coaching career. Though I've been in the writing and publishing industry for over 25 years, I'd say I've truly refined my abilities as a book development coach in the last 14 years. I created my Nine Essential Book Writing Steps a few years back. These have helped people with absolutely no writing experience become published and respected authors in anywhere from 60 days to 12 months (with the average being three to six months).
Tread carefully when hiring anyone who claims to be a book coach, especially if they seem new on the scene. It's always surprising to me how many non-writers say they're writing and book coaches.
Do you need a writing coach?
Not everyone needs a writing coach, but most people can benefit from one.
Take a moment to answer these questions.
- Do you have a book idea (or six) inside of you, but feel you can't get it out?
- Are you tired of seeing, Author of... in other speaker's bios?
- Would you like to learn a more creative type of writing, such as poetry, creative non-fiction, fiction, screenwriting or playwriting?
- Are you an entrepreneur, attorney, coach, psychologist or other expert who would like to do some (or all) of your blog writing, copywriting, email writing, report writing and the like?
- Do you want to go to graduate school, but aren't sure if you can handle the papers (not to mention the dissertation or thesis requirements)?
- Have you been dreaming of becoming a freelance writer, but aren't sure how to go about getting clients or if you even have the skills to do it?
- Are you financially secure or able to find the resources to hire a writing coach? (Most good ones aren't cheap.)
- Do you want to apply for small business grants, artist's grants or fellowships, but aren't sure your writing skills are up to snuff?
How to choose a writing coach
Qualifications are essential when choosing your writing coach. Rapport is also important and price should be the last consideration.
Research anyone you work with before having that initial sales call (which most people call discovery sessions nowadays). Any ethical writing coach will send you something about themselves as well as testimonials before meeting with you.
LinkedIn is a great way to research writing coaches, and Google is also your friend.
Consider whether they've worked as a writer — if they have not, this is a huge red flag.
If they're coaching around graduate school papers, dissertations and the like, do they hold a graduate degree?
Author coaches are an area in which you must exercise increased caution. Many are promising overnight best-seller success. But, wind up steering you towards expensive anthology or meaningless coloring book projects because they've never written or edited a book themselves. (Coloring books can be great for passive income, but do not create authors or thought leadership.)
Related: 3 Red Flags to Look Out for When Hiring a Book or Writing Coach
Summing it up
I love being a writing coach as well as a book development consultant. Many of my colleagues are ethical, experienced people — but a growing number are not.
Whatever your dream or goal, a qualified writing coach is a huge ally. You'll save so much time on the learning curve. Also, the chances of you achieving your vision — rather than giving up in frustration — are much higher when you have an experienced mentor at your side.