What type of writing do you do?

At networking events, I most often introduce myself as ‘a writer’ or ‘a business writer.’ Both lead to one of two  inevitable questions: ‘What do you write?’, or ‘What kind of writing do you do?’

Then I take a deep breath and try to explain myself in 30 seconds or less, (even typing this, I took a deep breath.) I’m interested and have experience in a lot of different types of writing. For my business, I can write marketing collateral – and that in itself can be an arm-long list of different things from success stories to business profiles to solution profiles and product briefs.

Then there’s ghost blogging for businesses, web content, press releases, content for newsletters, interviews, process guides, and more.

I’ve found that my business card is a great ice breaker, however. My business tagline is “Your Lisa Jackson business cardwords, only better.” And I constantly get a lot of compliments on that phrase. Business folks who are intimidated by writers, especially, smile at that and visibly relax. That’s when they’ll share a bit about their insecurities or concerns with their own writing.

I’m also realizing that if I can find out what type of business the person I’m meeting is involved with before I answer, I can give examples that he or she can relate to.

  • For instance, many businesses have websites that have existed for 5 years or more and never been updated – I can talk about my web copy experience.
  • Or if the person mentions sales letters that have resulted in zero inquiries, I can talk about how I can write marketing and sales pieces that catch attention.
  • Social media scares a lot of business owners – they don’t know how to even approach LinkedIn or Twitter for business. If I know this is what they’re thinking about the most, I can talk about how each has a different goal and therefore the writing has to also be different. I can mention that it isn’t rocket science, but it is a skill, and I’ve been writing professionally for more than 25 years.

Empathy goes a long way, and I love it when someone gets inquisitive about the art of writing. For me, asking questions about their business is natural – I need to know more in order to be able to write for them and keep their ‘voice.’

It’s probably not best to reply to ‘what do you write’ with ‘whatever you need,’ but in most cases, it’s true. I love working with words and helping others express what they need to in their own words, only better.

How do you answer the question, ‘what type of writing do you do?’

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa J. Jackson is a New England-region journalist and a year-round chocolate and iced coffee lover. She loves working with words, and helping others with their own. She writes fiction as Lisa Haselton, has an award-winning blog for book reviews and author interviews, and is on the staff of The Writer’s Chatroom. Connect with her on LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter

14 thoughts on “What type of writing do you do?

  1. If people ask what TYPE of writing do you do, I find it’s easier to answer and get some exchange going and it opens the door for you to sell – listing what you’ve done as examples, giving insight into your qualifications for certain types of writing. I have to chuckle when it’s more generalized and you’re asked “What do you write?” Now…I just answer “Words” then deliberately wait for a reaction or a followup question. I can usually tell when they’re just asking to be nice but aren’t interested, or whether they’re positively curious and we have can a good conversation about it. This recently landed me a promise of work. Not sure if this is the right approach or not. It’s just the way I’m handling it at the moment.
    BTW – love that “your words only better” tagline. Great! I haven’t come up with any good ideas for my card yet. Gonna have to think about that! Thanks for the reminder.

    • I like that, Laura – “words”. I’d try that sometime, but my deadpan usually comes across as serious or sarcastic, which isn’t what I’d want in most cases, but it gives me a chuckle to think about the reactions you must get!

  2. I’ve built our answer into our company name, ‘Professional and Higher’ (‘higher’ as in ‘higher education’). By the way, think it shoudl be well under 30 secs!

    • Anthony, I agree that 30 seconds is too long. I’m generally under 15 seconds, and I had that typed, but then edited myself. 🙂 Your company name sounds perfect, and my initial thought was higher education (since I relate to it) but my second thought was maybe something to do with flight, like hot air balloons — quick thoughts before reading what you put in parentheses! Thanks for commenting.

  3. Now that’s a question I struggle dwith a lot. I only ‘found’ writing about 3 1/2 years ago so I am in the steep learning curve of the art. So far I have written two novels – one speculative fiction & one erotic romance and also a fantasy novella as well as a children’s story book. So does that make me a fiction writer? I also have numerous articles in the local newspaper and online magazines and web sites – now I’m a article writer. I have also dabbled in poetry so I’m a poet? As you can see I cannot really define myself quite yet but, hopefully as I grow as a writer I will find my true form.
    Great question which will have me thinking for most of the day…

    • I have the same conundrum with all of my writing. I’ve written and published mystery, horror, spicy romance, children’s, poems, community profiles, news articles, interviews, destination articles, and then numerous types of business content, and more. I also write using 3 different names, so that adds to the mix! I love the variety that being a ‘writer’ offers us. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I don’t struggle with that question. It’s one of the follow up questions that makes my stomach swirl.

    “What is your novel about?”

    I hate this question. I know my novel inside and out but the moment someone asks me that devil of a question, I freeze up. I am not capable of conjuring up a short summary that would let them know what my novel (my baby, I often refer to it as) is about. So I end up offering a lame summary and kick myself when they finish the conversation with, “Oh, that’s interesting.”

    So I’ve gotten to the point where I respond with, “You’ll see when it’s finished.”

  5. This is very interesting, that this topic is being spoken about. I have been dabbling in writing for awhile and really started to go for more of an opportunity, for others to be invited in; since April of 08′. I had an accident that landed me in a tool, called a wheelchair. I write memoirs, for different things and events. From birthdays to home goings (funerals). As well as lyrics- so the love affair I have with words and creating is a passion and now understand, I am not the only one; that has a challenge of trying to explain, a precise answer. In company bigger than I realized. Once I get the full understanding on how this word press works and link it to my other sites, I think the romance of writing; will blossom to some beautiful offspring. Thanks Lisa and everyone, for your comments.

  6. I used to identify myself at networking events as a financial advisor. I still make a living managing money, but now I give them my writers card and say ‘buy this book.’. I give out 10-25 cards ever week, at random meetings which I initiate. 25 years of prospecting has never been so much fun.

  7. Pingback: My new story in WOW – Women On Writing « Charlene Oldham

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