Guest Post: “Write for Money, Write for Life” by Carrie Bailey

carriebaileyMy friend and fellow wordsmith Carrie Bailey kindly offered this guest entry on Another Odd Place For A Hill.  Please visit her official blog at  ***

In 2009, I started writing. As an experiment, I spent one month focusing solely on building an income as a freelance writer and brought in an average of 250 dollars per week, which I maintained for five weeks by working at least 8 hours per day. No days off. No rest.

After talking to a few established writers, I learned that it was typical for a new writer to earn between 10k and 20k per year. If you’re serious about writing, there are ways to make this happen and make this work for you.

Be real – Not realistic. No, don’t ever bother talking yourself out of your dreams. Be real. Be exactly who you are and don’t apologize for it. Most people don’t trust someone they don’t know who are clearly trying to impress them. If you’re not funny, cute, manly, feminine, wealthy or brilliant, don’t worry about it. Successful writers are more persistent than they are uniquely positioned at the head of the bell curve. However, they do tend to recognize that fine line between staying true to themselves and blindly blasting others with their insecurities and personal trivia.

Define what you want – It’s hard to think objectively when you’re feeling insecure or hungry. While this is something a lot of writers understand, but when you write for a living, like it or not, you are in business. That doesn’t always sit well with our inner artists. But, as a businessperson, you need to define your goals. Break down the steps it will take to achieve them. Research business practices. You are one.

Talk to people who are one step ahead of you – There are the people who will tell you what you really need to know and then, there are the people who will make it sound easy. The most successful writers have had a lot of time to simplify the details of their early struggles and forget the uncomfortable truths. But, the writers still running their victory laps are often ready to brag openly about the hurdles they’ve jumped. And that’s where you’ll glean the timely inside information.

Keep records – Whenever you achieve any measurable success, make a note of it. You might not remember later what tactics worked. And review your notes often. You might learn something of value in hindsight that you overlooked before.

Contact the people who pay – I know this seems obvious, but there are writers who attempt to market themselves before they target people already willing to pay for their work. This is working backwards. Write a few good posts on a topic. Offer them to different websites and publications for free. Then, generate a mad flurry of ideas and pitch them to sites that pay while offering links to your previous work. How do you find people who pay? Google. Yes, Google. That, and ask other freelance writers.

Beware the foul weather friend – Don’t worry about fair weather friends. They may be a disappointment, but not a true danger. In reality, it’s the people who love you desperately when you’re down that – more often than we care to confront – will try to keep you there. Distance yourself from people who discourage you, who don’t believe in you and above all, those who panic or just get weird when you start succeeding. Jealousy is poison. Take no more than you can cope with.

Clients as customers – If you’ve been a traditional employee, you’ve probably found release venting frustrations about your boss. It was their fault. As a writer, you are your own boss and it cannot be overstated that you need to treat everyone you work with as customers. Clients are not in charge. You are. And remember, they customer is always right, even when they’re wrong.

Make minimalism sexy – Yes, it’s both powerful and sexy to be the master of your own destiny, but it’s also good for your bottom line. Simplifying your life will ensure your survival through the hard times. It will reduce your dependence and give you more control over the things that matter. Picture one month of your life and all the things you actually need to live until the very last day. Not thrive. Just live. If you can reduce what you need to smallest amount manageable, you will always be able to keep writing.

Get paid to research – If you’re a writer, then you are by default a student of human nature and you can’t do that physically melded to your keyboard. Walk out the door and go apply for minimum wage jobs. Work part-time where you can observe people. Write for sites that pay you to review goods and services that you need.

Give them your heart in a plastic bag – You don’t have to be the most talented writer to be a financially viable one. But, it helps to understand what people really want, you know, your heart and soul. They want to expand their lives by absorbing bits of yours through your experience and your words. But even while you pour your heart into your work, remember: don’t bleed on them. Your audience does not exist to affirm you. Cultivate professionalism in your work. 

Writing is more than a job.

Writers are ready to sacrifice anything to build their business. And if that sounds like you, then go forward. Be a writer. Although the beginning may be grim and your resources meager, you have more chance of making it as an author than you do winning the lottery. That is the good news.

Now, the bad news. If you’re looking for a stable, secure and profitable venture, you’re thinking like an employee. And that won’t make you a successful writer. Think like a businessperson. There are times in our lives when we have obligations, like family, that make any business a selfish venture. The truth is that you don’t have to make a living as a writer to be a writer, but if it is the path you choose, jump on it like it’s the last train out of town. 

Guest post by Carrie Bailey 


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