Over the past 10 years I’ve done lots of things—and gotten pretty good at a number of them—but one thing that I’ve become very good at is writing and teaching. I was (in 2004) Canada’s first professional blogger and ever since then the majority of my income has come from writing, blogging, or teaching people to do those two things. So it’s from that perspective that I’m tuning what I call myself. I’m a freelance writer no more, I’m now a mercenary writer.
Of course I’ll still use “freelance writer” as my title on LinkedIn and take on “traditional” freelance writing gigs, but the idea of a mercenary writer is based on this article from the Harvard Business Review on the Decision Factory and an article I wrote on the Nugg blog on the idea of team clusters. In this kind of model I could come in to your company and kick start your blog with content and teach the key content creators how to blog effectively. If you’re using WordPress, I’d probably also help tweak and tune the site as well. After my stint is done, I’d move on and you have a functional, thriving blog with lots of content—and people trained to maintain it.
Have a new product and need someone to teach and show the world how great it is? Then I come in and write, screencast, and run webinars to do just that. In the meantime build a foundation for your help, FAQs, and other support documentation (not to mention share the knowledge with the team how to support, promote, and even improve your product). Once the base has been set, then I’m off to help another company, until you do an major update and like to have me come back and refresh the content.
I’ll come armed to the teeth—with words.
Is this just a semantic subtlety born from too much coffee, reading, and daydreaming? Not at all, it comes from analyzing the work that needs to be done and how people are being hired to do it. Look at the jobs that are needed today (and generation a ton of content is a huge part of today’s world) and how they are traditionally recruited and filled. You need to kickstart your social media presence, blog, and content strategy. Chances are in early in a startup’s life you might have people who can do this, but they are too busy with important tasks like development, getting funding, and making sure stuff gets done right. So you hire a “social media ninja” to join your team. This person works tirelessly for 3 to 6 months getting your social media presence built up, but then you reach a point where you’re in maintenance mode. You don’t need a lot of effort to keep it going and your nascent marketing department can probably handle that task, so what happens to the social media whiz you hired? You love their passion, expertise, and how well they fit into the culture, but…
Sure, many times that person has become invaluable, but as the HBR article reveals, that person might feel forced to “remain busy” to ensure they “remain essential”. Sure there are always white papers to write and tweets to schedule, but let’s look at in another way. What if you hired not a more junior person because you factored hiring them for the long term, but a much more experienced person who you have on board for an accepted shorter period of time? A mercenary. A person who comes in, does the job (explosions optional), gets paid, and then moves on. Your problem is solved and the mercenary has been well compensated. This arrangement works in a lot of scenarios, so why not writing, social media, evangelists, and other key marketing and startup positions? Exactly.
So if you need a mercenary writer, let me know. I’ll come armed to the teeth—with words.