Writer-Entrepreneur Part 1: Your Business Model

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.


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