Do You Have the Secret Ingredient?
Updated: Jan 17
Blank document open.
Reading glasses on.
Outline...well, it's outlined.
Block of time set aside to write.
Seems like you've got all the ingredients you need to knock out a blog, website page, book chapter, ad copy, or whatever content you're getting ready to tackle.
But, if you don't have the secret ingredient, you may find you struggle to create something with the flavor, the spice, or the oomph you, your client, or your reader are looking for.
You know what you need? Passion. (Poured liberally!)
I have interviewed my fair share of freelancers for writing work. Recently, though, one left an impression that I won't soon forget. After the typical niceties, I was about to launch into some questions I had prepared to get down to the nitty gritty facts about her and her writing. This freelancer cut in--politely of course--to say she wanted to share something about herself that she really wanted me to know above all else. She felt it was far more important that I hear this than about her experience, skills, education, etc.
This is what she said (with a lot of energy and enthusiasm in her voice):
"I have a real passion for what I do. I see opportunities for creativity even in the most mundane subjets. I especially love helping businesses shine. I ask a lot of questions and commit to digging into a project and the people I'm interviewing. I love deeply connecting with the businesses and people I'm writing about, and telling their story."
Little did she know, she had me at "Passion". It is one word I have written at the top of the notes I took while talking to her. She nailed it.
Anyone can say they have a passion for something, that's true.
However, in all the interviews I've conducted with content creators, no one else has actually expressed passion to me. If they do talk about it, it's generally after I directly ask , "Where does your passion lie - is it with marketing, writing, public relations, editing, journalism...?"
I've hired many of these freelance content creators because of their experience, the types of clients they've worked with, and their well-written posts and pages. Which is why I am taken aback a lot when I receive first drafts that from the first sentence feel absent of any personality or creativity. Sometimes the content falls flat. Sometimes it's clear there's been no effort to organize the words. Sometimes, I cannot even make heads or tails of what they've written, which makes me think they did not edit themselves at all.
You know what these things scream to me as an editor? They've got no Passion! I am the first to admit that some of the topics we write about are not the most thrilling--insurance, gases, radio frequency parts. But it shouldn't matter what you're writing about; if you love what you do your heart should be in it to make the content as interesting, informative, and vibrant as possible.
So, it was extremely refreshing and impactful for me to have this freelancer make it crystal clear that creating content and making it engaging is what makes her heart sing.
Guess what? I gave her an assignment. This despite the fact that she has not been in the workforce for years and does not have an updated resume or writing samples to share with me.
You can call me naive for working with her. And, sure, this might not work out well!
But, I would be willing to make a bet with you that it's going to go smoothly. Because I trust that she is going to put her all into this first project. Because I know she is going to stay dedicated to this project from start to finish this project. Because I know she is going to make sure she loves what she's written before she presents anything to me. Because I know she is going to research and interview and ideate the heck out of this blog.
Because, by golly she's got it, that secret ingredient. She's got Passion.