Writing is creative work, and many writers approach wordsmithing like a hobby or an outlet rather than an actual business. Case in point, a multitude of writers out there are working for a penny per word or even less complaining about why they aren’t being treated seriously as writers. From the professional writer’s standpoint – this is bull. If a writer wants to be treated seriously, he needs to take himself seriously. Writing for money is a business – act that way.
The Business of Writing
Writing is a creative work, and there is a wide range of earning potential that comes with the territory. If you think of writing in its truest form, only art of words and writing the next great novel or poem to change the world, you’re missing the large component that also is present in successful writing – the necessary skills and knowledge writers need to make their writing sell. Writers not only sell their material to their respective audiences, they must also sell it to clients. This boils down to style and marketing.
To attract readers and potentially followers, the writer uses style and even formulas that have been tested over time. Consider copywriting – it’s almost as formulaic as calculus, and consequently at the higher end of the profitability spectrum. Granted, you might be a great copywriter worth thousands of dollars per sales letter, but unless you can convince a client to pay you thousands you’re still out of business churning out penny word material.
As a freelance writer or any sort of freelance creative, you’re running a business. Sure it sounds daunting and it can be, but if you plan from the beginning, or draw a line in the sand and make yourself a new beginning, starting a real business doesn’t have to be overwhelming. After all, this business has very little overhead at least.
Start your writing career with a business plan. A simple plan would include key elements like the services you’ll provide, how much is reasonable to charge for those services, who your target market will be and how you’ll find and market to that prospective clientele.
Sadly is the last bit that presents the biggest challenges to writers. Writing is a pyramid of talent. The top tier writers are talented both as writers and as marketers. The least talented writers and the least talented marketers, regardless of writing ability, find themselves with the masses at the bottom of the pyramid. This is the penny-word cesspool of writing that mires many would-be-great writers. The bottom of the pyramid isn’t going to miraculously elect to raise minimum rates so that you can ride the income wave higher. The bog of cheap writing is ever-present and if you want out, you have to market your way out.
Running a Writing Business
Set your rates realistically based on real market research for professional writing rates, bearing in mind your ability and expertise. Create your brand using a website or blog to give potential clients a way to research and learn more about you. They aren’t going to trust you just because you say you’re worth it, especially at the professional level. You’ll need a portfolio of outstanding pieces to showcase.
Then make your real business goal finding clients. Your clients work hard finding traffic for their websites and so should you. Keep your rates where they are and find clients that match those rates. The higher your rates, the fewer clients you’ll find willing to pay them, so dedicate yourself to finding that niche of clients willing to pay well for the services you’re offering. Ignore any other markets that don’t apply to your business – those writers aren’t your competition unless you’re competing solely on price. Wal-Mart isn’t competing with Neiman Marcus after all.
A carefully executed business has the potential to build and earn considerable amounts of income well into the future with you at the helm. The real question is this: Are you ready to grab on to a real writing career?
Rebecca Garland is a professional freelance writer and blogger working hard to populate the internet with interesting, informative content. With advanced degrees in business and information science, she takes an interest in a range of topics including Chicago web design and freelancing content. You can learn more about Rebecca on her website, www.internetauthor.net.