I've been running a freelance business for two years now, and I have just started to investigate the possibility of taking a course in business or media writing.
For the most part I haven't had to provide much in the way of writing services, but I feel at this point it would be a good skill to be able to offer to my clients, as well as a way to strengthen my own communications on behalf of my company.
Any advice on what I should be looking for in a writing course, or any leads in the Toronto area would be much appreciated.
I'm not sure about a writing course -- I've never sought one out or taken one outside of college.
However, I can recommend a book: On Writing Well, by William Zinsser. I've learned quite a bit from reading it in parallel with writing and getting feedback from readers.
I recently gave a presentation for the AIGA called On Writing, for Creative People, which came about due to the AIGA communities interest in professional writing, which is why I was curious about whether other designers were feeling the same tug.
Thanks for the lead!
I actually missed out on a webinar about writing for designers that Registered Graphic Designers on Ontario a while back that I was hoping to attend.
I'm still not sure what "Design" means. I consider myself a "Designer", though technically I'm a visual artist, more particularly a professional painter. I can say this, though, which applies to my work as a painter: I think being a good writer is an extremely useful skill, and I have made it a significant part of my professional repertoire (though I'm still struggling to "organize" all my writing and find the right venues for it, + find the right way to "monetise" my writing).
My argument applies to all artistic practises, though. I think writing is an essential skill for an artist/designer, but not just writing. I call it the ability to "articulate" things. It could be called "communication skills"; it doesn't have to be limited to just writing, it can be public speaking too, or just interpersonal communication. As an artist, it's becoming increasingly important to be able to "articulate" what it is exactly that you do, what a particular piece signifies, or what the process was exactly that you went through to create it. More and more people want to know these things. I can't count how often I've been asked specific questions about my art, and have often been dumbfounded, unable to answer.
So in that regard, writing is a great skill to have. It applies to Design, too: Being able to "articulate" things about the design, about the process of design.. If you have a website, too, where you show your work, someone's going to have to write the content. If you're a web designer, writing is a great skill to have for exactly the same reason.
I think we live in a world where communication itself, and different modes of communication, are "ubiquitous". So being great at "articulating" things is a plus for anyone. Creative work for me over the years has gone from 100% inspiration, creativity, to 85% people skills and 15% inspiration/creativity. It's great to do great work, but one has to be able to sell it. Hence being a great writer, a great communicator, a great "articulator" is to me a good skill to have.
In conclusion, it also helps when you're working in teams, where a well-articulated question or problem can lead to quicker answers/solutions. Again, I can't count how many useless meetings I've sat through that could have been summarized in one sentence, yet went on for hours. So that's that. Sorry if this was long-winded. I never said I was an expert in the domain. I for one suffer from lack of brevity. :)
Although I don't feel pressure at all, I make myself available to write for my clients. Even though I have a strong writing background on top of my design / marketing experience, I really would prefer my client to write for their project first. Once written, I review it and take it up a few notches for context, readability, SEO, etc.
I think most people THINK they know what they're doing, causing more damage than good.
Where I live, there are a lot of fakers and just a few major players in our business. We're not in a major metropolitan area, so the competition amongst my clients isn't as big as in, say, Miami, Atlanta, LA, etc. It is easier for me to get my client the exposure and ranking they want here because they're not fighting a lot of people for a top spot.
There are also a lot of variables involved with gaining exposure to the right people. I can't throw them all in one group. I can say that you should go fishing where your fish are - meaning your target demographic can be found in common places, saying common things, and acting common ways. Find that thing they have in common and attack.
You'll need to know more about who you're trying to reach. Once you know who they are, then you should find a trigger that will get their attention. I find myself seeing asking questions tends to garner more of their attention. Things like "tired of taking meds for joint pain? click here for more info" worked better than "all natural joint medication". We were able to connect with something these people had in common.
Hope that makes sense and helps.
I love writing as well as design. I think of it in a similar way as I do art/design. You are writing for a specific audience, trying to attract them to the story through your words, and trying to convey needed information, as well as other things. It truly is an art as well.
It is also extremely important to write well as a designer. It is useful in jotting notes for clients, making legible edits to some content, composing emails, and most of all, writing project briefs and other client related materials. I have also found that quite often clients not only want you to design a logo, but may also want a tag line or advertisement created in which you have to come up with some, if not all, of the content.
Writing is still a valid, useful form of communication. And when dealing with clients for design purposes, it is rare that you will be able to meet with your client in person each time you need to speak to them, so, email, texting, mailing designs with written explanations is a common practice.
I highly recommend honing your writing skills while you are in school for design. It is a very useful skill to have. (Work on the verbal aspect too, if needed).