A couple of weeks ago, someone from an agency asked me if I was interested in writing a technical white paper. When I looked at the topic, I saw that it dealt with engines, definitely not my area of expertise. I said no, while also providing an introduction to a writing friend who could handle the project.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t need experience in a subject matter to write about it. I can do research and talk to sources and figure out everything from car rental pricing to experiential marketing. I’m all for stretch goals, as they say in the corporate world. That’s one way to grow one’s expertise and learn new things. But I also know that there are some topics and writing assignments where I am not a good fit — at all.
I heard a story from a communications friend in which somebody hired a writer who was good at creative copywriting, but flailed on a white paper. I have a sad tale or two as well. For example, I was once hired to help come up with a new company name. I gave it a shot, because I’d written for this client before, but mostly web copy and blogs. I still squirm when I think of the awful names I came up with (I’ll share the most embarrassing one with you over a cocktail). It was after that experience when I told the client it was better to work with a creative copywriter on projects like that.
Passing on projects that aren’t a good fit not only protects my reputation, but the client’s as well.
Good writers know what they can knock out of the park… and what they can’t. Otherwise, we’ll continue to hear that lament, “There aren’t any good writers out there.”