Writer-Entrepreneur: Your Business Model (Part One)

The first step of most entrepreneurial cycles is coming up with a business model: the way your endeavor will make the profits that feed your family. For example, the business model of McDonald’s is to make consistent, quick hamburgers.

As a writer, your basic business model is to write words and get paid. You’ll need greater focus, though, if you want to structure your freelance business for success.

Freelance writing has hundreds of potential business models, especially in the new pulp era of internet publishing. A few business models that have made me money include:

  • Blogging for advertising income
  • Writing travel guidebooks for traditional publishers
  • Writing articles for hobby magazines
  • Ghost-blogging for financial services
  • Producing online content articles
  • Creating business documentation
  • Reviewing travel destinations, books and restaurants

These specific writing assignments lie at the intersections of my expertise and powerful market demand — and thus get me the regular and lucrative assignments I need. In 2012, I hope to add some other business models, including a podcast, audiobooks, young adult fiction, nonfiction books, national magazines and travel writing.

If you’re a working writer, what are your business models? I’d love to see some in comments. Next time, we’ll talk about two other important parts of your business model: strong definitions and diversification.

Thanks for listening.

Friday Fun: What’s Out There

For today’s Friday Fun, I wanted to combine interesting content with some useful information. These are a few of the websites that carry my work — and thus the kinds of sites you could find work with in your own search for gigs.

Amour Creole

A Caribbean focused beauty and style magazine. They picked up some small business blog posts, and a review of the New Orleans-based Dave Robicheaux detective series.


These guys serve small businesses and entrepreneurs. They ran a series of advice articles I based on my own successes and failures running a full-time karate school.


A company that facilitates vacation rentals — both for the renters and the rentees. They run a bunch of vacation advice blog posts, including my series on family travel and travel safety.


Exactly what it sounds like. They bought a few articles on the exercise side of losing weight.

The Content Strategist

Advice on blogging, social media and similar online content for business. Since this is about 60 percent of what I do, they ran several articles on specific social media platforms.

Folsom’s 93

My writing pal April Moore runs this site as part of her book project. Since it’s about prisons, she’s run some guest posts about stupid criminals, personal safety and self defense. Did I mention she has a book deal now? All because of the compelling content she has on the site.

What kinds of places are carrying your work? How do you find new clients? Please post your experiences in comments.

Writer-Entrepreneur: Your Mission Statement

You’ve heard of mission statements. Most of you know what they are. In case you don’t, Entrepreneur.com’s Business Encyclopedia does:

mission statement defines what an organization is,           why it exists, its reason for being. 

Though this is what a mission statement should be, most businesses actually draft a mission statement that consists of meaningless marketing tripe.

Nike: To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.

Pizza Hut: We take pride in making a perfect pizza and providing courteous and helpful service on time all the time. Every customer says, “I’ll be back!”

Apple: Apple leads the digital music revolution with its iPods and iTunes online store. Apple has reinvented the mobile phone with its revolutionary iPhone and App Store, and is defining the future of mobile media and computing devices with iPad.

Every business needs a mission statement — including your business as a freelance writer. But please, please, please, don’t make your mission statement a list of marketing hype and impossible promises. “Perfect pizza?” “Innovation in every athlete?” Impossible dreams are nice for singing about, but make bad business plans.

Instead, your mission statement should be a brief and inspiring reminder of why you’re writing instead of watching movies on Netflix or working at the local high school. It should be concrete, simple, and powerful for pushing your personal motivational buttons.

For what it’s worth, here’s mine:

To afford what my family needs and serve my personal values while working from home with abundant time for my wife, children and friends.

Nothing impossible in there. Nothing meaningless, or intended to trick consumers or customers into liking me better. Just honest words about what’s important to me, and why freelance writing helps me achieve those important things.

So what’s your mission statement? If you don’t have one, what would it be? Leave comments. I’m eager to hear.


Book Review: Wise Man’s Fear

I read and reviewed The Name of the Wind last year. Short version: I loved it. Best fantasy fiction I’ve read in the past decade — and I reread Lord of the Rings during that period.

Wise Man’s Fear is the sequel, an even longer book with a word count higher than the first three Harry Potter novels combined. It’s even better than the first.

This is the second book of the Kingkiller Trilogy, and like most such novels it continues the longer story rather than telling a tale of its own. However, it’s more than just a “bridge novel.” Plot development is minimal, but Kvothe develops as a character and we learn more about the world.

One specific element I like is Rothfuss’ exploration of language. Dialects, illiteracy and song are all part of the landscape in this story — even a dual-level language where people communicate simultaneously with word and sign.

As before, the novel makes good use of action — but not just combat. He can depict playing a song in concert, or verbal sparring, or taking an exam as gripping, important and instense.

Seriously. Read this. Wise Man’s Fear is the best book I’ve read this year. Only fiction I’ve read this year, but the competition will have its work cut out for the next 11 months.

Thanks for listening.

Friday Fun: American Entropy

From 1997 to 2000, I worked as a phone monkey and content writer for America Online. You can say what you want about AOL (and I’ll agree with some of it), but it was exciting to work for that company as the world really discovered the Internet.

One problem of that job was the boredom. You can only say “have you tried turning it off, then back on” so many times before you start surfing the net while making calls. My surfing eventually brought me to Dark Lord Rob — an old-school hippie and writer who posted his work online before authors started doing that.

His work is psychedelic, sensual and creepy. It reminds me of the best of Ray Bradbury, Jack Kerouac and Stephen King. He kept me entertained and inspired when I was first getting published myownself.

More than 10 years later, his site has evolved into American Entropy. His body of work has expanded, and his presentation is easy to use and full of his personality. Check it out. I especially recommend his Lovecraft-meets-Iron Butterfly novel The Miskatonic Acid Test.