How to Always be a Broke Writer

one centYep, that title is a shocker, ain’t it? But here’s the thing – in our industry we read a lot of articles.  We want to know how those who came before us succeeded.

Maybe we try to emulate somebody who has broken in, or get all hopped up on the latest internet marketing approach to promoting our awesome services.

But what you don’t often read about is how to fail.

Now, why would knowing how to fail help you?

Good question.  The short answer is so you know what not to do when you’re blazing the paths of freelance writer-dom.

And you might be surprised to see yourself on the following list:

  1. Don’t specialize, be a jack of all trades and master of none.  There are a lot of reasons this is a bad strategy. But the most compelling is that you’ll never be all things to all people.  By specializing you have a smaller focus but a much chance at real targeted marketing. Plus you end up really good at something.  Everybody loves that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to turn down work that you can do and are happy to do. However, in terms of your business model and marketing, if you focus on your speciality and promote that you’re more likely to get the kind of clients you want doing the kind of work you are great at doing.
  2. Be reactive.  Like it or not, you have a business.  You may be the only employee and the only one producing your product or service but it’s still a business and should be run as one.  Hanging around and waiting for your existing clients to give you more work is reactive.  Be proactive, send out letters of introduction, list yourself in some directories, join the local Chamber of Commerce.  Chances are, right now only you and a handful of people know what you can do.  Don’t keep it a secret.
  3. Don’t choose a business model.  In other words just go at your writing career willy-nilly and hope for the best.  This will definitely keep you broke and require you pick up part-time jobs that don’t involve writing. A business model doesn’t have to be complex or fancy, it just has to be a specific approach that will advance your career.  For example: Figure out who you’re going to write for, what type of writing you’ll provide, what your fees are and the way you’re going to promote your services.  That of course is bare bones, but even bare bones is better than nothing.
  4. Promote haphazardly.  Now, I’m all for marketing and promoting and I’ve read, studied, listened to and used a bagillion different techniques for marketing. However, trying to run a website, a blog, Facebook page, twitter accounts, Google ads, banner ads, guest posting and free information products in order to saturate the market usually leads to you becoming a nervous wreck.  While there may be a day when you can master all of the above and still have time to actually write – but for now, pick one channel of promotion that you can handle and is effective and stick to that.  Your chances are much better for yielding a result.
  5. Don’t promote or market.  This should be a no-brainer but you’d be shocked by how many writers don’t promote or market.  They feel funny about singing their own praises or can’t be objective enough about their skills to even figure out what to say.  But if you can’t figure out how to promote your services how do you think you’ll be able to do it for a client? Suck it up, get rid of the false modesty and do a real assessment of your skills and promote the heck out of it.  If you need help, ask a client or business friend to help you figure it out.  Again, if you keep your skill and services a big secret you can definitely look forward to a job as a barista somewhere
  6. Work for clients who don’t value you.  This may be obvious and yet so many writers do this.  Part of the reason is that they don’t have enough confidence in their own skill or maybe they are just starting out and feel they have to pay their dues before they can get the choice assignments. But the problem with working with clients who don’t value you is that they make you feel bad about yourself and your work. And if you’re feeling bad all the time, you won’t have the energy or vibe to get better clients.
  7. Give up.  When you’re self employed and don’t get a regular paycheck it can make you grumpy.  Especially if things aren’t going great.  And I know writers who make an I-give-up declaration once a week.  No, they don’t mean it but does the universe know that?  Often we are the most likely to sabotage our own efforts.  Do what Napoleon Hill suggests – focus, be determined, believe in yourself.  Tell the universe you never give up because frankly you’re going to have to if you want to succeed at anything.  Nobody who has ever gotten anywhere has given up.  In fact, just the opposite, they refuse to give up.  Emulate those people.

Why should you listen to me?

Well, because I’ve made every one of these mistakes and more.That’s how I know it doesn’t work.  Experience, baby.  Not the easiest way to learn but effective.

So, did you see yourself in the list above? If so, what did you do to change things? Do you have any tips for success you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below.

Writer Chick

Copyright 2013

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