Setting up a writing business can be a challenge for many freelance writers. In our new series, “Your Writing Dream: Set Up Your Own Highly Profitable Writing Business”, we’ll look at everything from your mindset to your inventory. (Yes, you need an inventory. :-))
The series will set you well on the way to achieving your dream.
When I asked writers to give me some input on what I should cover, writers responded.
Their challenges included:
* Pricing their services and quoting fees to clients;
* Little or no time to write;
* Fear of competition;
* Procrastination and fear of failure;
* Confusion about marketing;
* Lack of direction;
* Uncertainty about when/ if to go full-time.
I’ll be addressing all these concerns in the series.
Many thanks to you if you responded. (If you haven’t responded, it’s not too late, just leave a comment and tell me about YOUR challenges.)
In this first article, I’ll discuss mindset, because it’s the foundation of your business. Indeed, your mindset IS your business, because your writing business depends on your creativity, and it’s impossible to be creative with a negative mindset.
Get Your Mindset Right — You Wear Two Hats: Creative and Professional
As a creative professional, you wear two hats: your creative writer’s hat, and your professional business hat.
Last year, we had some fun with our 100 Day Writing Challenge, in which we talked about Creative You and Big Boss You.
Creative You wears your “creative” hat, and Big Boss You wears your “professional business” hat.
Here’s what I said in the Challenge:
One of the hardest things to understand about writing is that it uses two completely separate parts of your brain. At times, you’ll feel as if you’re two people.
There’s Creative You, which is wholly creative. This is the part of you that’s a small child. Most of us tend to squash this part of ourselves. It’s the part you’ll need to resurrect in order to fulfill your true potential as a writer.
Creative You is the right side of your brain. It’s non-verbal. This part of your brain “talks”, and thinks, in images, emotions and sensations. This is why when you write down your ideas, they’re so far from your initial conception of them. Although Creative You can’t speak or write, it’s the real writer in you. Creative You transfers her/ his creative impulses to… Big Boss You.
Big Boss You is not creative. It’s the organizer, who “knows how things should be done”. Unfortunately at times Big Boss You bosses little Creative You as he struggles to put Creative You’s creativity into words. This bossiness frightens Creative You, and YOU run out of words and ideas.
The key to getting both sides of your brain to work together is: patience, and a determination to have fun with your writing. Creative You is child-like (but not childish), and is easily frightened. This aspect of your consciousness also has a tendency to throw tantrums and sulk.
Over time, Creative You and Big Boss You develop a partnership, and work easily together. Your writing becomes huge fun — it’s more fun than anything else. Getting to this stage can be a struggle, but over time, you’ll get there. Your right and left brain will develop a smooth partnership.
So, in a nutshell, to build a successful writing business, you need to get both your creative self, and your professional business self, working together.
This takes practice. However, just knowing that there are two selves, so to speak, which work together, puts you miles ahead of other writers.
As a group, we writers are NOT good business people. For proof, just look at all the Web content farms. They couldn’t exist without writers, yet the writers are paid peanuts… This has always been the way. Hollywood’s Jack Warner called writers “schmucks with Underwoods” (Underwood was a brand of typewriter) half a century ago, and nothing’s changed.
Ultimately, you must understand that writing for money is a BUSINESS. People make money from your words. As a wordsmith, if you want a share of that money, it’s up to you to grab it… Indeed, to fight for it.
Building Your Writing Business Takes TIME
If you were setting up any business, you’d estimate that it would take you around three years to profitability. A writing business is unusual, in that you can become profitable in the first few *months* rather than years.
Great news, right?
It is, so please take it to heart, because it will stop you falling into the instant success pitfall.
The “Instant Success” Pitfall, and the Over-Thinking Cure
In my work with my writing students, I’ve found that they not only want instant success, they expect it.
That’s like planting a few tomato seeds today, and expecting to have a home-grown tomato and basil salad for lunch tomorrow.
This expectation of instant success leads writers to over-thinking everything they do. They’re hesitant to do anything without making sure that every mouse is in its little house, the wind is blowing in the right direction…
Everything has to be just PERFECT, because one misstep means total ruination and failure.
Calm down, and realize that building a successful business will take a little time, and that *your steps to success are cumulative*. Keep moving, and you’ll get to where you want to go.
Here’s how to eliminate over-thinking: make decisions quickly, and change them slowly — if indeed you change them at all.
Decide, and DO. Act.
For example, let’s say you decide that you’re going to kick-start your new business by getting gigs at the out-sourcing sites. That’s a fine decision. Stick with it. ACT. Make professional bids: put your heart and soul into each proposal, and keep going.
If you have doubts, block them by saying to yourself: “I’ve made a decision.” Just do your best on the proposals, and you’ll succeed. Refuse to re-think once you’ve made a decision.
Some 30 years ago, I decided that if I didn’t get a book published (my dream) within ten years, I’d give it up.
I made the decision and set to work. I achieved that particular dream in less than a year. I sent out a book proposal (three chapters plus synopsis) every month. I just focused totally on the proposals, and I beat my own deadline by over nine years.
If you can DECIDE and ACT, the world is your oyster.
Your Writing Business: Write, and Manage Your Business
There are two parts to your writing business: writing, and managing your business. The “managing” includes making sales.
Remember that the creative, “writing” aspect of you needs to be shielded from the business side. You need both mindsets for success.
Most writers feel “I just want to write”, and this is fine. You can and must write (every day.) However, you also must manage your business every day.
Please understand that no one can manage your business for you. No one… Even if you wanted to write books, and hired an agent, you’re still responsible for your business. You agent won’t promote your writing, and manage your affairs.
So, there’s just YOU to handle the business side of your writing business.
If this scares you, realize that it’s OK to be scared — it’s completely natural, when it’s new to you. In this series, we’ll be covering both the writing aspect, and the business aspect of building your writing business.
Both aspects are equally important: you can’t have one without the other if you want to make a great income, and be successful.
The Nitty Gritty
Writers write. In a way, it’s a boring profession; there’s nothing glamorous about it. You get to sit in a room all day, and tap the keyboard.
You also get to wheel and deal, once you have something to sell, and that can be huge fun, as you’ll discover in this series.
Here’s a little quiz for you. The quiz will help you to decide whether building a profitable writing business is for you.
Quiz: Could You Set Up a Highly Profitable Writing Business?
1. Can you picture yourself sitting at your computer and writing for several hours each day?
2. Are you reasonably in control of your emotions, so that you take neither failure nor success too seriously?
3. Can you develop a keen marketing brain? Promoting yourself and your writing is mandatory.
4. Do you write SOMETHING most days?
5. Are you enthusiastic about building a writing business?
If you answered “Yes” to most questions, you can look forward to success. 🙂
Resources to Help You to Build Your Writing Business
* Sell Your Writing Online NOW (SYWON) — build a successful Web writing business step by step;
* Top 70 Writing Tips — write more, sell more, and have much more fun with your writing;
* You’re a Celebrity: Advertising and Branding Tricks for Writers — promote your writing, and have fun doing it;
* Instant Income For Writers: Ace the Outsourcing Sites — get experience, get security, and get paid to learn.
Next week, you’ll take the first steps in building your writing business: you’ll decide what you’ll write.
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