the 9 (& 1/2) Rules of Profitable Writing

Another post in answer to the question of how to write professionally…

I’ve been writing full-time as my sole source of income for four years today. I’m not a millionaire, but I do get to work from home — an average of three hours a day — with my baby in my lap. These 9 (& 1/2) rules represent the things I do that make it possible, and that I’ve learned along the way. In the coming weeks, I’ll hit each one in detail with step-by-step instructions. To start, here they are.

1. Write Nonfiction...the market is much larger, and the competition is sparse.

2. Work the Numbers by understanding the economies of scale and how all sales (including selling your writing) is a numbers game.

3. Get Paid, even in trade at first. Nobody asks a plumber to work for free “to get exposure.”

3.5. What You’re Worth, which is more than $10 a post.

4. Be Systematic in your approach to finding, completing and turning in work.

5. Find Accountability, whether it’s from yourself, your spouse or a writing buddy.

6. Remember Your Mission Statement. This is your reason for being a freelancer instead of punching a clock.

7. Be a Generalist, which means becoming a gifted researcher. It exponentially increases the number of assignments you can accept.

8. Work Your Numbers: how much you need to write to make your financial goals, and how long it typically takes to get paid.

9. Have a Wealth as much as you must to get what you want, instead of working a random amount, then seeing what you made.


2 thoughts on “the 9 (& 1/2) Rules of Profitable Writing

  1. Seems like very practical advice – thanks! I’ve thought about trying to be a freelance writer, but I worry it will take away from my fiction writing time; if I’m spending my time writing for other people, at the end of the day will I still feel like writing for myself? That’s been my dilemma, but I’m definitely interested in reading your advice in the coming weeks.

    • That’s a great point, Heidi. What I’ve found is that the opposite is true for a few reasons…

      #1: You man make a living writing about 4 hours a day from home…which leaves you lots more time than making your living working 8 hours plus commute not writing.

      #2: All those nonfiction hours help you hone your craft. When I wrote my first novel (alas, unpublished), I struggled to hit 2,000 words a day. My second (talking with agents right now) I had days of 10k+ words. And it’s a better novel…in part because of all that practice slapping words together, and all the feedback I got from editors.

      #3: It’s a real kick telling people “I’m a writer” when they ask what you do for a living.

      You might have a very different experience, but that’s how it’s worked out for me. That was a great comment. Thank you.

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