Writing Professionally: Managing Income

I am a full-time professional writer. This means that I can fulfill my financial responsibilities doing nothing but writing. From time to time, I’ll post tips to offer what advice my meager experience can offer to others who want to do the same.

Today I want to talk about managing income. As an amateur, I took what assignments I could find, then counted the money at the end of the month. The result: I wrote as an adjunct to my day job.

Professional writers do it the other way around. We work out how much you want to make each month, then pursue assignments until you reach the goal. Because the writing-acceptance-payment cycle often takes weeks or months, this doesn’t mean you’ll get cash money equal to your goal every single month. Over the course of the year, you can expect the average to equal the goals you set.

This can be a frightening leap of faith – after all, you don’t know who’s going to accept your proposals. There are a few things you can do to hedge your bets:

  • Take extra work when you can get it. This will give you extra cash for when things just don’t add up.
  • Pursue assignments in areas with a high need for volume, such as web content and ad copy.
  • Publish multiple times in the same magazine or site, rather than once each in many. The relationship you forge can lead to streamlined assignments, even a column.
  • Submit early and often: like any other sales situation, this is a numbers game. The more assignments you propose, the more you will receive.

I hope this helps. Thanks for listening.

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