Small businesses start every day with no real business plan, just a vague notion of what they’ll do…and an even vaguer thought that they’ll make money doing it. South Park’s Underpants Gnomes are a classic example of this approach:
This Business Model Won't Cut It
Some of those businesses even succeed — but not often. Any first year business student will tell you that a business model is the first step in figuring out how you’ll do something full-time for a living. A business model is the essential description of how you will make money by doing something. A retailer’s business model is buy items for one price and sell them for a higher price.
As a professional nonfiction writer, by business model is provide high-quality writing to business clients in exchange for phat stacks of cash.
A novelist would write fiction that attracts enough readers to make a living wage off the commissions.
Writers used to have a limited number of business models available to them — mostly selling what they wrote to an agent, publisher or advertising company. Our new pulp era expands those options. Some of the newer business models available to writers include.
- Write a blog that attracts enough traffic to generate advertising income.
- Produce and sell ebooks or on-demand books to a core audience of a few thousand.
- Generate content for linkbait farms and content mills (the wholesale approach).
- Ghostwrite blogs for professional customers who lack the time or expertise to write for themselves.
- Create podcast scripts to sell directly or use as a magnet for advertising.
The possibilities outweigh the limitations right now, and in fact the most successful writers use multiple business models so that no single income source is responsible for their financial well-being.
To start, though, you should focus on one business model. Write one sentence about how, specifically, you will make money from your writing. We’ll move on in later posts about how to turn that model into a full business plan.
Most writers know about the idea that an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters could turn our the works of Shakespeare if given enough time. Douglas Adams riffed on the idea in a passage in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. My first web publishing projects — an ezine I started in 1997 — went under the name of Infinite Monkeys Press. As it turns out, Jesse Anderson is using random text generation to simulate those monkeys. As of last Saturday, at 2:30 Pacific Standard Time, the virtual monkeys successfully turned out Shakespeares A Lover’s Complaint.
A touch! A touch! I do confess it!
It was nonsequential — the project tracked each Shakespeare-congruent sentence and collated them. So don’t worry. They won’t be able to replace competent writers with monkeys just yet. Thanks for listenening.
With fond respect to Mrs. Mary Carol Day, my Sophomore and Senior High School English teacher, we really need to stop teaching spelling in schools. My reasons for this belief are simple:
1. Standardized spelling is less than 200 years old — a linguistic flash in the pan.
2. Spell checkers mean none of us have to know how to spell (though we should definitely learn the difference between common homonyms).
3. Aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at an Elingsh uinervtisy, it deosn’t mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht frist and lsat ltteer is at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a toatl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae we do not raed ervey lteter by it slef but the wrod as a wlohe.
Number three is a fairly common internet meme that’s been around for years. One of my favorites, and apparently it also works in French
Sleon une édtue de l’Uvinertisé de Cmabrigde, l’odrre des ltteers dnas un mtos n’a pas d’ipmrotncae, la suele coshe ipmrotnate est que la pmeirère et la drenèire soit à la bnnoe pclae. Le rsete peut êrte dnas un dsérorde ttoal et vuos puoevz tujoruos lrie snas porlblème. C’est prace que le creaveu hmauin ne lit pas chuaqe ltetre elle-mmêe, mias le mot cmome un tuot.
De aorcdo com uma pqsieusa de uma uinrvesriddae ignlsea, não ipomtra em qaul odrem as lrteas de uma plravaa etãso, a úncia csioa iprotmatne é que a piremria e útmlia lrteas etejasm no lgaur crteo. O rseto pdoe ser uma ttaol bçguana que vcoê pdoe anida ler sem pobrlmea. Itso é poqrue nós não lmeos cdaa lrtea isladoa, mas a plravaa cmoo um tdoo.
So seriously, people. We can spend our time on more valuable pursuits. And don’t get me started on how much time my son spends on cursive handwriting, and none on keyboarding. Thanks for listening.