Whether you’re a new freelance writer or a well-seasoned professional, you could benefit from either a mentor or a coach. Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably, but there are some major and subtle differences.
This article differentiates the critical differences between mentoring and coaching. We hope this information helps you to figure out the path that suits you best.
Naturally, the roles will merge a little, so please take everything that’s written below as more of a general overview.
So, let’s not waste any more time and dive on in!
What Are the Main Differences Between a Coach and Mentor?
The goals vary.
Coaching focuses on specific tasks, so it’s a fabulous thing for newbie freelancers to undertake. Namely, because you’ll typically get the support you need to launch your new business successfully.
The emphasis is put on giving you practical advice to develop the skills you need to thrive in the freelance writing industry. Whether this is creating new writing samples, drafting pitches to editors, or upselling your services, a coach will steer you in the right direction.
Therefore, coaching programs are usually more performance-driven than mentorship. As a result, you typically have less of a need for your coach once you’ve mastered the skills they’ve taught you. Whereas, the relationship you have with your mentor usually spans an extended period.
This is because mentoring is typically based on the relationship you develop with them. Mentorship tends to focus more on discussing things that are holding you back from growing your business. Although you still receive a lot of practical advice, there’s a much greater focus on self-development.
For example, topics such as self-confidence and personal circumstances usually factor more in mentorship than coaching.
The Structure of Mentoring and Coaching Is Slightly Different
Coaching doesn’t require any kind of structure. It’s usually based on the client telling the coach about the skills they’re struggling with, and receiving the help they need.
On the other hand, mentoring needs a design to ensure there’s a strategic purpose for your sessions. Like any form of self-development, the results are sometimes less clear-cut, so the need for design is essential. This is crucial for the mentor, so they know which components to focus on. That way you’ll both get the most out of your time together.
Compensation Can Vary
Typically, you always pay a coach for their services, and they’re usually experts in the field of freelance writing.
However, mentorship isn’t always a paid service (although often it is). In comparison to a coach, a mentor doesn’t have to be a freelance writer, per say. They’ll always have achieved success in their own entrepreneurial journey, but that may not be as a writer.
It’s because of their experience they have the authority to give you guidance and advice on how to navigate and develop your freelancing business.
Should I Consider Getting a Writing Coach?
In short, yes.
Speaking from experience, professional writing coaches are worth their weight in gold. I received coaching via Contena’s program, and it was the best thing I ever did (but only if you can afford it, never put yourself under financial strain. This will defeat the initial purpose of hiring a coach in the first place).
You could benefit from a coach if you fall into any of these categories:
- You’re new to freelance writing and have no idea where to start.
- You’re a seasoned professional, but you’re looking to improve your technique and score bigger and better clients.
- You’re looking to move from agency work to contracted gigs that’ll give you a byline.
- You’re unsure how to upsell your current services.
Should I Consider Finding a Mentor?
If you’re looking for an approach that includes a bit of personal development, then you’re better off with a mentor. Especially if you’ve already established a professional relationship with someone you feel you can learn from.
Additionally, you might benefit from mentoring if:
- You need help balancing your professional and personal life.
- You need help marketing yourself as a personal brand
- You want to hear the struggles your mentor’s faced, how they overcame them, and how you can avoid falling foul to them yourself.
- You’re facing a specific challenge in your freelancing business, and you need help to overcome it.
How Do I Find a Mentor and Develop a Relationship with Them?
If you’re not looking for a structured pre-paid mentor, then you’ll need to find someone you think you can learn from, and approach them with due care and respect.
Before you start to contact any and all industry professionals, be clear on what you want and research the freelance writing industry. You’ll need a rough idea of what you want your career to look like.
Without this information, you won’t be able to ask for the kind of help you need from your mentor.
Secondly, you need to study up and do your homework on your potential mentor. This step is essential for demonstrating you’re serious about getting a mentor, and for showing you respect their time and expertise.
Once you have all that sussed, you need to email them directly with a short and concise message. These people are usually exceptionally busy and won’t have time to read a lengthy email (however, well constructed it is).
Here a Couple of Subject Lines You Might Want to Consider:
- 10 minutes of your time [insert their name]- your expertise in [insert the relevant industry]
- Fancy a 15-minute coffee, my treat? I could really benefit from your advice on/about [insert their niche]
You may also find this email template useful for scoring a professional mentor!
‘To [insert their name],
In five years time, I hope to have accomplished everything you have in your career [insert the things you aspire to do]. You’ve clearly made an impact in the [insert relevant industry] and I long to do the same.
I’d appreciate any mentorship you could give me on how to enter the freelance writing industry [or whatever problem you’re struggling with] and expand on the skills and experience I already have. Your advice will add a valuable insight into the industry that you can’t gather from an internet search.
I understand you’re exceptionally busy, so I’d like to initially request a mere ten minutes at a time most convenient to you. I’ve already done a lot of homework in this field, and I’m taking this venture very seriously. However, I feel I could immensely benefit from your personal experience.
I hope to hear from you soon,
[insert your name]
P.S. If there’s any way I can be of assistance to you, please don’t hesitate to reach out, I’d love to return the favor in any way I can.’
I hope all of this information has been useful! Best of luck as you search for either a freelance writing coach or mentor!