New Freelance Writing Career 6 High-Yield Strategies
Hands up all those whod like to have a successful writing career. (Whats that you say? What do I mean by successful?) All right, I know all writers are individuals. To some, successful mightmean just getting one article published. Others want a string of best-sellingnovels, recognition in the supermarket and megabucks in the bank account. So, forthe purposes of this article, well define successful as "achieving regular orongoing publication credits in tandem with a growing income". That income shouldincrease as you become more recognized and popular as a writer. Now for the crunch. How do you achieve success? How do you win a growingreadership? And the biggie: how do you make sure you get paid for your efforts? Theres a simple answer. You need to INVEST in your career. Think of yourwriting as a fledgling business. Wise investment will help it to grow - and helpyou to get the results you want.You need to spend a buck to make two (or more) bucksYou need to prioritize your spendingYou need to invest time as well as moneyYou need to invest energyYou need to surround yourself with wise advisors and positive peopleYou need to plan, review, and plan again1. You Need To Spend A Buck To Make A Buck Every craftsperson needs to have good tools to get the best results. A writeris no different.You can make do with a typewriter - but a computer is better. (Why? Its easier toedit your work; you can connect to the wider writing community via the Internet,and editors are increasingly asking for manuscripts and proofs to be emailed tothem.)You can make do with looking up publishers in the Yellow Pages - but the latestedition of a Writers Marketplace is better. (Why? It gives you much more industry-specific information - and its a darn sight more convenient.)You can make do with business cards and postcards to promote yourself - but anemail address/website address is better. (Why? The take-up rate of Internet usersis phenomenal - people can reach you or read about you easily and conveniently.) Its easy to talk yourself into "making do". And its true that writers canspend almost nothing on tools of the trade. However, successful businesses knowthat in the end, you have to spend money to make money. That doesnt mean wastemoney - it means you carefully plan your spending.
2. You Need to Prioritise Your Spending There are three main things you need to think about when youre prioritisingyour spending on your writing career.What will help me improve my skills?What will help me to do my job more effectively?What will help me to become better known and to market my work? Look realistically at your income and expenditure, and decide what you canspend on your writing career in the next 12 months. Dont make this the leastpossible you can manage. Think of it as ongoing costs in building an effectivebusiness. (And remember that many start-up businesses dont expect to make a profitfor the first 3 years!) Here are a few ideas: (a) What will help me improve my skills? Books on writing for your professional library - a writing course - a writingworkshop or program - a writers seminar or conference - membership of a writerscentre - writing software - a critique service (b) What will help me do my job more effectively? An up to date computer - a good-quality desk and chair - an internetconnection - a directory of writers markets - a separate room for writing - areduction in working hours in my outside job - a fax and/or good printer - a betterword processing program (c) What will help me to get known and to market my work? Attendance at writing talks/seminars/workshops/groups - local functions andsocial groups - internet discussion lists - my own website - submission of articlesto industry magazines/ezines - run my own seminars and workshops - business cards -regular column for local paper - radio chat show appearances These are just a few ideas. Brainstorm a list of your own, then rank theitems on each list in order of importance to you. What is the wisest use of yourmoney at this point in your career? 3. You Need To Invest Time As Well As Money You have probably already noticed that many of the career-boosting strategiesthat involve investment of cash also require an investment of your time. Theimportance of giving time to your career cannot be overestimated.It takes time to read up on markets and draw up a submission list.It takes time to keep records about where your work has been and where it needs togo next.It takes time to go to seminars, workshops and regular group meetings.It takes time to read up on techniques to build your writing skills, to use them,and to get feedback on how well they worked.
And of course - it takes time to actually sit down and write! In writing, as in any field of endeavour, there are far more gunnas thanachievers. "I was gunna write for an hour every day, BUT..."; "I was gunna do achapter this week, BUT..."; "I was gunna go to that seminar, BUT..." Its far easier to find excuses for not doing something than to get out thereand do it. With every excuse, your writing career stalls again. Sure, we all havetimes when everything that could go wrong does go wrong - but we need to be carefulthat this enforced time out doesnt stretch from weeks to months, or from monthsto years. 4. You Need To Invest Energy An energetic approach to achieving success in your writing career is just asimportant as spending time and money. You can spend thousands of dollars and youcan sit down at the computer for four hours a day seven days a week - but if youdont invest energy then you are diluting the effects of both. Example #1: You can go to a seminar and sit by yourself the wholetime (or nod off because youre bored/tired)... or you can make an effort to talkto other writers; ask questions of the panel; introduce yourself to an agent. Example #2: You can skim through the posts on an internet discussion list...or you can join in and toss around a few ideas (and get to know the others on thelist). Example #3: You can sit at your desk for 2 hours and write a page, play 10games of Solitaire, answer your email and chat on the phone to a friend for twentyminutes... or you can write a scene, print it out, read it out loud for pacing,analyse the dialogue, then rewrite it - in short: be proactive about using yourwriting time. 5. You Need To Surround Yourself With Wise Advisers and Positive People It has often been said that writing is a lonely occupation. It certainly canbe, if all you do is sit in front of the computer for hours on end, lost in yourwriting world. Its even lonelier if you seem to be the only one who believes thatyouve got a chance of making something of this writing caper. Am I saying that its a bad thing to become really involved in your writing?Not at all - but you do need balance. You also need to surround yourself with theright kind of people to help you move forward - (1) the right advisers and (2)positive people. Who are the right advisers? People who know something of the world ofwriting. Usually, these will be other writers or professionals connected withwriting: agents, editors, writing centre personnel, and experienced members ofwriting groups (online and offline). What about positive people? This is easy. Getting published is hard enoughwithout the doomsayers undermining your confidence. If your family is notsupportive, look for others who are. Talk about writing with people who care.Beware of published writers who launch savage attacks on the publishing industrywithout offering any constructive advice (sometimes they have a hidden agenda).
You love to write. You want to make a living at it. You want to know how tomake this a reality - not be told how awful and impossible it all is. Naturally, you shouldnt close your ears to sage advice. If theres an editoreveryone hates dealing with, you want to know about it. If theres a publisher whotakes ten months to respond to a manuscript, doesnt take calls and is slow payingcontracted authors - you want to know about that too. But overall, mix withpositive people. Your enthusiasm and effectiveness will soar. 6. You Need To Plan, Review, and Plan Again A well-run business reviews its performance regularly. As you invest time,money and energy in your career, stop periodically to review the effectiveness ofyour strategies.What did you learn from that conference/workshop?How much return will you get from your investment in that book on technique or thatdirectory of writers markets?How much difference has your investment in an internet connection made to yourknowledge and contacts?What is the next step in your career?What do you need to invest to take you to the next step? Plan, review, then plan again. This should be an ongoing process in yourcampaign to establish yourself as a successful writer! By employing these 6 high-yield strategies to investing in your career,youll notice a definite change in your attitude and your results. Does this approach work? Well, for over a decade now Ive had a career based solely on writing andwriting-related activities. It pays well in both satisfaction and dollars. Ivealways invested time, money and energy in my career. Ive tried to surround myselfwith good advisers and positive people. And yes, I do plan, review then plan again!Im constantly updating my knowledge, tools and contacts. These 6 high-yield strategies have worked for countless other writers.Theyre based on (1) common sense and (2) good business sense. Give them a try, and watch them work wonders for you. (c) copyright Marg McAlister Marg McAlister has published magazine articles, shortstories, books for children, ezines, promotional material, sales letters and webcontent. She has written 5 distance education courses on writing, and her onlinehelp for writers is popular all over the world. Sign up for her regular writerstipsheet at http://www.writing4success.com/
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