A lot of people say “he’s a pro” and mean “that person is very skilled, despite the fact he does something else for a living.” Those people use the word wrong.
A professional writer gets paid to write. You don’t have to write as your sole source of income (although I’m here to tell you it’s pretty great when you can). You don’t even have to get paid in money. But that’s the real difference between a pro and an amateur, no matter how gifted. Which brings us to Rule 3:
Most amateur writers I know face three major obstacles when it comes to getting paid. All three are fallacies.
Fallacy #1: Anybody can write. Nobody will pay me to do what they can do for free.
It’s true most people can write. But few people can write well, and even fewer of those who can will write for somebody else, on that other person’s schedule. A lot of business owners and executives lack the time to write, even if they can do it pretty well.
Further, the Internet makes it exponentially easy to get words out to people — though it’s playing merry Hobb with the print publishing industry, the web means there’s a greater demand for words than ever before. It’s not hard to sell your words if you make them high-quality.
Fallacy #2: I can’t find any clients, and don’t know how to look.
This one gets under my skin sometimes, even to this day. Freelancing means you lose clients from time to time through no fault or drama of your own. The contract expires, the company goes under, they decide to try something else. Last month that happened with over $2000/month worth of business and I panicked for the better part of the day. But there are many, many, many fish in that particular sea. Consider the list below:
- Professional blogging for businesses
- Writing your own blog for sales and advertising
- Developing business documents
- Technical writing
- Writing grants
- Business plans and venture capital proposals
- Nonfiction articles
- Ghostwriting books
- Ghostwriting blogs
- Advertising copy
- Legal SEO
- Informational SEO
- Social media releases
- Press releases
- Local newspapers
- Regional magazines
- Print magazines
- Ebooks and print-on-demand books
- Print books
These are all markets that pay real money for good words. The top tier of many pay a dollar or more for each word you produce. Hundreds of professional writers derive their sole income writing in just one of these categories — often in a subcategory within it.
Or you can be a “writing slut” like me and turn out words about whatever somebody is willing to pay you to do.
Fallacy #3: I hate sales.
The fallacy here isn’t the belief that you hate sales. That might be true (but probably isn’t). The fallacy here is the idea that it matters.
Doesn’t matter who you are, you’re going to sell stuff. Some people sell goods and services for money. If you’re not one of them, you still sell ideas all the time. You made a sale when you got your last job, when you asked your spouse to marry you, when you talked your kid into doing the dishes.
Sales is just convincing somebody to do something, and works best then that something is to their benefit. Since you already know that buying your words is good for the client, these sales aren’t hard.
The trick is getting over the fallacy and forcing yourself to start asking for business. Once you do that, the sales stuff gets easier with every single query.
How about y’all? What other fallacies are standing in the way of getting paid for what you write? Let’s talk about (ruthlessly eradicate) them in the comments.