About Productivity — A Workflow Plan

Yesterday, due to a nexus of opportunity to work and volume of committed projects, I put just over 17,000 words down — not counting emails and Facebook conversations. That’s an unusually busy day for me, but 10,000 words of one sort or another isn’t that unusual anymore.

A lot of my writer friends ask how I do that, especially since I’m also taking care of my house and kids. Here’s the answer.

I divide my workday into “cycles” which consist of a writing goal, a housework goal, a business goal, time with the toddler and exercise. Each takes between 40 minutes and an hour. Any given day, I’ll do between 4 and 6 cycles.

For example, the cycle I’m in right now includes the following:
Continue reading

50 Ways to Sell Your Writing — #3 Nonfiction Magazines

50 WaysNonfiction Magazines

Part 3 of a multi-blog series on how many ways there are for writers of all stripes to make a living doing what they love. Check out #1 over at FictionalCafe.com.

Thousands of print magazines are out there, and they all need somebody to fill their pages each and every month. Most pay enough you’ll make $200 to several thousand per assignment.

You’ve seen these at the newsstand, on airplanes and on waiting room tables. If you’ve thought about writing nonfiction professionally, there’s a good chance this is what you thought of first. A lot of people are starting to think print is dead or dying, but the market for solid writers to serve print media is still huge. There is a place for you if you’re willing to work for it.


  • Bottomless market
  • High rate of pay per word
  • Feels good to have that print magazine on a shelf


  • Hard to break in
  • Even harder to get recurring assignments
  • (Often a) long lag time between pitching and payment

Find Submission Guidelines at…

Pro Tip

The highest-paying magazines don’t take a chance on features ($1.00 a word for a couple thousand words in many cases) with somebody they don’t know. Break in with a shorter piece in the “front of book” section — those little 100-200 word blurbs in the beginning of most consumer magazines.

Middle of Nowhere Sessions (A Kickstarter Story)

If you can’t move your bar to the music, move the music to your bar…

Reggie Mace and Beth Rahn of Mace Mead Works have been doing that for a little less than a year now.

images Mace Mead Works is a bar in Dayton, Washington, a small farming community about halfway between Walla Walla, Washington and Cour d’Laine, Idaho. If you think there’s nothing at that point on the map, you can be forgiven. It’s pretty middle of nowhere.

Which is why they call their Kickstarter project the “Middle of Nowhere Sessions.”

Here’s the thing. In an attempt to bring in more customers to a bar that belongs in a city but is situated in a town where everything is within walking distance, Reggie and Beth have brought in musical acts from all over the Pacific Northwest. The bands have brought customers, some of whom come back. They want to expand on this model, specifically by

• Building a stage in their back room for better events
• Adding acoustic tile
• Buying sound equipment to record the concerts
• General publicity and word-getting-outness

It’s a good idea, but with 5 days to go they’re at just over 50% of their goal. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons that might be: Continue reading

Building Your Website in Four Easy Steps

Weekend before last, I spoke at the Pacific Northwest Travel Writers Conference. I did a talk on increasing writing revenue by observing basic business and marketing practices. I got a lot of questions about building an online brochure website to give potential clients someplace to go.

Here’s the basics of how.

Step One: Find Your Home

There are a lot of options for this, but I’ll simplify the decision by telling you what I use.

  • You need a host for your site. Go to www.dreamhost.com and get it. Use your full name (middle included) unless you have a compelling alternate URL in mind.
  • You need software. Go to www.wordpress.org and get it. It’s not the 100% best out there, but they have the most support and the community is fantastic.

In both cases, the sites make it easy to understand what you should do and how. Once wordpress is set up, you’ll spend a few minutes on the header and customization. Do something simple for now with the title, and create three pages: About, Testimonials and Work Samples

Step Two: Your About Page

This should be the “landing page” and it should consist of a professional, high-quality photo of you and three paragraphs that detail:

  1. Who you are.
  2. What you do.
  3. Why you’re a rock star. 

Don’t be cute here. This isn’t the place to joke about your drinking habits, or share adorable pictures of your adorable puppies engaging in their adorable habits. Keep it simple. Keep it professional.

Step Three: The Testimonials

Here’s where you establish the first word-of-mouth campaign for your writing career. You want between three and six blurbs from clients or readers detailing how awesome you are. If you don’t have any, pull some from recommendation letters, comments on academic papers and similar notes. Or go out and ask for them.

Place each blurb next to a good-quality photo of the person who said it. Studies found this increases how much a reader trusts the blurb. It’s not logical, but that doesn’t make it less true.

Step Four: Work Samples

On this page, you’ll put four to eight samples of your best work. Do not paste the actual work into the page. Instead provide links to online work samples, and to downloadable .pdf files of print work.

If you don’t have that many writing samples yet, write some.

What’s Next?

These four steps aren’t all there is to your site, but they’ll give you a solid web presence with an afternoon’s work. From there, you can tweak, add a blog, fiddle with SEO and see to all the other details to your heart’s content.

Just get this version online.

Rule 9 of Profitable Writing

Writer For Hire Click here to start the series from the beginning. You’ll be glad you did.

Today’s rule is more about mindset than about a particular system or process. That doesn’t make it less important, or even less measurable — just a little more on the psychology side of the line. It’s also the solution to a key obstacle that keep people wanting to write for a living instead of actually doing it. Rule nine seems harder than it is, because most people don’t really understand what it means….

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There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the population into two groups, and people who know better.

That’s true, but in this case there really are two major categories of your relationship with resources: a wealth mindset and a scarcity mindset.

A scarcity mindset looks at time, energy and money as finite. They plan their dreams according to what they perceive is available. A wealth mindset considers resources something you can get more of, and figures out how to make more available when their dreams get big.

Most would-be professional writers approach the money part with a scarcity mindset. They write what they can, then add up how much that writing earned them. It’s almost always a number so small they can’t imagine going full-time.

Using a wealth mindset approaches the problem in a different way. Instead of writing what you can and adding the total, start the month knowing how much you need to earn, then do whatever it takes to write that much.

It’s an expression of proactivity vs. reactivity, of optimism vs. pessimism. Turning that specific switch in your outlook will mean you write more, earn more, and achieve things you never could if you just settle for what you’ve already done.

It’s not as easy as I make it sound, but it’s exactly that simple. Make the switch and see what it does for you.

One caveat on wealth-based budgeting. Always make your plans based on a wealth mindset, but spend your money on scarcity lines. The alternative lands you in debt, which makes earning what you need exponentially harder.