Aspiring writers are a dime a dozen. As a writer myself I meet many like-minded individuals with dreams of pursuing a career writing full-time. Instead of treating it like a career, they instead view it as a far-off event that may or may not ever arrive. People like this aren’t convinced that they can make it happen, and might be living a self-fulfilling prophecy of literary underachievement. Today is the day to change that.
Fake It Till You Make It
If you want to become an Olympic sprinter then you need to run practically every day. It takes copious amounts of time, blood, sweat, and self belief. Writing is the same way. Don’t just aspire to become a successful writer – write consistently and fake it till you make it. There’s nothing wrong with being casually committed to the craft like most writers, but if you ever plan on living off your writing…being like most writers isn’t good enough. A better mindset to have is to treat your career like a small business.
Once more with feeling: Treat your writing career like a small business. You’re the face of your company and your own best advocate. Do yourself a favor and take the steps that will enable you to succeed. That means consistency, documentation, and professionalism.
You Deserve To Be Paid
Try to recognize that your words are your product and worth payment in exchange for others reading them. A sort of culture has developed where people taking writing for granted. We consume news, editorials, reviews, and all manner of written content online constantly and for free. Somewhere along the line the public decided that since they consume it for free, it wasn’t worth anything. There are too many online publications that refuse to give their regular contributors a dollar, choosing instead to repeat the tired refrain of ‘publicity’ when there’s very little of that too.
Over time I’ve come to see that our writing only has as much value as we place on it. From the first moment you plant yourself in front of the keyboard you should keep the frame of mind that your writing is worthwhile and worth being compensated for. If your goal is to get publicity, then by all means accept it as payment. Otherwise remember that free content has its purposes but alone doesn’t put bread on your table. Getting paid does.
Get Help From Your Friends
It’s important to surround yourself with allies who are actively pursuing similar goals. Small business conferences and writing seminars are both great environments to cultivate your fighting spirit. You’ll need it for the road ahead – the name ‘small business’ already tells you what you can expect. It’s small and it will take time to grow. Seek out mentors that can help you gain a foothold in your niche. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and make mistakes as long as you keep trying. Successful friends and teachers are guide posts that light your way. You won’t be able to duplicate their success immediately and that’s OK. I know quitting your day job tomorrow to pursue a life of pure bliss writing reviews of Bonanza re-runs sounds great, but that’s a long ways off. You have to earn it first. Writing as a business is not and has never been a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. This is a multifaceted process that requires your full effort. Don’t forget that you have friends that can help you on your journey.
Master Many Skills
Recognize that as a jack or jane-of-all-trades, your business is never just writing. You’re responsible for writing, sure, but you’re also responsible for promoting yourself and managing the small yet important financial details. You have to factor in the accounting side of running a small business or working as a 1099 freelancer. Navigating tax laws as a small business owner can be tricky, especially when taking into consideration tax credits and deductions. Small businesses often have narrow margins and you must take care to save money at every opportunity possible. Along the way perhaps you’ll also design your own logo or even design your office space. Having friends to help is good but you must also develop your own skills.
Believe In Yourself First
I think it all begins with a fundamental mindset shift from freelancer to business owner. Viewing yourself as a freelancer only can feel too much like being an employee or a tumbleweed that rolls from town to town in search of work. Instead, think of and treat yourself as a sole proprietor that sells quality goods (your words) and services (your expertise) to customers, no matter how big or small. It’s all part of how you market your work and it begins with empowering yourself. You’re the baddest in the west and you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.
You’re not the drifting gunfighter that roams from saloon to saloon in search of work. Give yourself more credit, because in many ways you’re the saloon itself. Gunfighters, wranglers, and farmers from all across the state come to your establishment in search of opportunities and a good drink. You’re a jack or jane-of-all-trades: tough, skilled, and with friends to boot. Seize your writing career today by treating it like the business it’s always been.