It seems a while since I started out communicating about wine. I was lucky: when I began writing on the Internet there wasn’t a lot of competition. Now there’s so much, it’s daunting. Here are seven tips I wish I’d been given when I started out, and which I reckon would be of some use to anyone thinking of doing the same thing.
1. Establish a niche. To stand out from the crowd, you ideally need to become a ‘go-to’ expert on at least one area. This makes the chance of getting work SO much higher. Picking the right niche depends on your expertise, interests and ambitions. Which areas are covered currently by people who aren’t doing a good job?
2. Be different. The temptation for new writers is to mimic the style and approach of successful writers. But really you need to be different. And authentic, with it. What is your own, personal voice? The high risk, high gain strategy of daring to be different is definitely the way to go.
3. Be focused. Try not to get involved in too many different projects. You need one website, one Twitter handle, one Facebook page. Don’t dilute your energies too far.
4. Be realistic. This applies to picking your niche, pitching for commissions, evaluating your progress.
5. Along the same lines, be patient. It really does take time to build your own tribe and establish your reputation (although, of course, a reputation can be lost very quickly).
6. Play to your strengths. There are things you are good at, and things you are bad at. Rather than spend ages working on your weaknesses, put yourself in a position (if you can) where you are playing to your strengths. It’s much more fun if you do this, and you are likely to perform better, too.
7. Say no to insecurity. Be confident. Insecurity leads to all sorts of bad behaviour, such as excessive competitiveness, jealousy, unkindness and generally being a d**k.