Jo Ann LeQuang reports:
"Being a writer is a form of gainful employment. Would-be writers generally ask me questions about writing. I am almost never asked questions about the business of writing. The business of writing separates the sheep from the goats. A writer who sees her writing as a business can actually make money in the field, even pretty decent money. A writer who sees her work as her passion, her creative outlet, or her hobby generally does not make money. Writers who want to support themselves writing need to stop thinking and talking about writing and focus on the business...If you want to earn a living as a writer, you have to sell what you’ve written. One way to do this is to get a job at a corporation as a writer. You may not realize it, but most large corporations (and many smaller businesses) have full-time writers on staff. You may wind up writing manuals or reports or brochures or web content, but you can write for a living. Just about any organization that puts words on paper, whether in shareholder newsletters, annual reports, product manuals, ads, strategic plans, and so on has a need for writers. Freelance writers can also write for businesses but instead of being on staff, they work from their own office. Some companies contract writers to do writing work on-site for specific durations or projects. Landing freelance assignments from businesses can be pretty lucrative work but you have to know what you’re doing. Businesses tend to be sort of humorless about deadlines and quality of work. A freelancer working for businesses needs to maintain regular office hours, answer the phone professionally...and have all of the equipment businesses expect. This means you need e-mail, business phone, and fax line. It doesn’t hurt to have a website, even if it’s just basically a business card online. To start looking for work at businesses you should first try to network. Referrals are a great way to get jobs, but you need to start telling people about your services. It’s easy to start with folks you know. From there, expand into people whose contact information you can get. You can prepare a simple mailing with a letter introducing yourself and your services and contact information. Send it out to businesses in the fields you’d like to work for. Mention any special expertise, training, or background you have...What if you’re just starting out and don’t have a specialty? It’s easy to get one. Just start writing. Contribute material to local newsletters, the local paper, and websites in your field. Notice I said 'contribute.' You increase your odds of getting published if you give this stuff away. That’s good business sense because you need published clips. Want to write about financial services? Start by writing anything and everything you can on the subject for free, save up the clips, and then prepare a letter and mailing with your best work to attract business clients. Writing for business can be done for a flat rate or by the hour. A flat rate works well if you know the exact scope of what you’re doing. Since many businesses can make changes on the fly, even changing the direction or scope of the project, an hourly rate is often used instead. Where else can you sell your writing? Magazines, newspapers, and websites are all hungry for content. But don’t just throw something at a magazine and wonder why they don’t publish it. Always analyze the publication before you submit or suggest anything...The better you can fit your offering to the publication, the more likely you are to make a sale...You’ll notice I have not mentioned writing fiction, poetry, or plays. J. K. Rowling notwithstanding, you can’t make money writing those things...[The artistic] forms of writing, including fiction, are highly competitive fields that have very high barriers to entry for unknown writers. There aren’t many publishers actively seeking new and unpublished writers. Your odds are better playing the lottery. If your dream is to write a novel, that’s great. But don’t call it a business, at least not until you’ve sold your novel. I don’t discourage such activities, but it is not the same thing as having a real business. You can make a living as a writer. Actually, the Internet has opened up so many new business opportunities for all kinds of entrepreneurs, but no one is better poised to take advantage of some of these opportunities than a savvy and adventurous business-minded writer. This means that a writer today can write something and sell it directly to his or he[r] reader and not bother with the whole traditional publication ordeal...[T]he real business of writing belongs to those who translate the existing opportunity into action."
Writing and editing can be pretty rigorous processes if you want to do them well, but that's what this page is here for. Check out the latest tips here.