Like most people, I want to be successful at what I do and I’m always on the look out for better ways to do that (for the sake of the argument let’s just call it writing – the medium is immaterial in this conversation). So over the past week I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and books about being a successful writer, with a particular focus on blogging.
While I picked up some very useful tips – yes, yes I’ll share in another blog post – the thing that stood out the most was just how many experts I found. In particular experts who were more than willing to relieve me of some cash in order to show me how great their expertise is.
It all became a little overwhelming to be honest.
Now don’t get me wrong – I have nothing against people sharing their expertise or making money from it. In fact, I think it’s great. As long as they are in fact an expert and are not expecting to retire to Bora Bora by taking advantage of your desire to break into writing.
With that in mind, I made myself some guidelines to apply to the expert sites I visit before I sign up for, or more importantly, pay for anything on offer.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
The first two blogs I mentioned above – ‘Make millions blogging TODAY’, ‘How to become a successful author OVERNIGHT’ – don’t exist, but I’m sure, you’ve seen zillions of sites making those same promises. I know I have.
Most of them tell you the only thing required from you is a few bucks and they will deliver the secret to an easy, and very wealthy, writing future.
Newsflash: Writing (and blogging) is hard work and like most things in life, success is not over night. The Rowlings, the Gilberts, and the Kings, not to mention all the successful bloggers you are in awe of, put in a lot of time, energy, and effort into their work.
It might seem like they were an overnight success, but trust me, it wasn’t.
There are no shortcuts to success so don’t be taken in.
If it looks like a bunny, hops like a bunny, smells like a bunny ….chances are the thing is a bunny
In other words, if it looks like a scam, it probably is a scam. Don’t just hand your credit card details over without checking it out. You wouldn’t walk into a store, close your eyes, hand the sales girl your card and say “give me the most beautiful shoes in the shop, I don’t need to try them on, I don’t need to see them, just put ‘em in a box and charge me for ‘em” (if you would, well maybe this isn’t the blog you need to be reading…) so don’t do it when looking for advice and support for your writing either.
Equally don’t assume that because the blog owner/expert wants you to pay for their services, they are out to fleece you. The two sites mentioned above: ‘Break into Fiction,’ ‘How to Write Shop’ are genuine sites, with great services and products on offer to help you with your writing career.
Expertise or Opinion?
There is I admit a thin line between the two, but before you start typing in your credit card details, it’s a good idea to be work out whether you are getting expertise (Break Into Fiction) or opinion (this blog) and if the price tag reflects the value of what you are buying. In fact it’s probably a good idea to establish which of the two you are looking for before you start. Are you just looking to see what others think or are you searching for training? Do they have testimonials from clients supporting their claims? Are they able to show some proof of their expertise or back up their claims with solid examples?
Rules are made to be broken
Keep in mind there are very few rules set entirely in stone. The ones that are, you will probably recognise instantly(grammar, spelling, and the likes);for the others it is, in my experience, a case of using some common sense. Trust your instincts; if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. And just because someone else has said it’s a rule, don’t feel you can’t challenge that rule. Writing is a creative exercise so be creative with the rules as well - who knows what you might achieve.