“We often wait for that knock of opportunity, though I’ve found it’s better to just grab a chainsaw and cut open your own freaking door.” – Don Roff
Many feel their fate as writers is dictated by how often opportunity lands at their doorstep. That’s not true. Not always. Passive waiting leads to active stress.
There’s a better way. Savvy scribes realize that, due to changes in the publishing industry and the economy, we must become more “creative” and strategic in landing assignments, and cultivating clients. We must take matters in our own hands.
Print publications are collapsing like cheap umbrellas, author advances are shrinking, and many companies are cutting marketing departments to operate “lean and mean.” In these challenging times, opportunities have to be cultivated and writers must learn to be more proactive than reactive to stay afloat, and remain profitable.
Accordingly, here are six strategies to make money when opportunity fails to show up at your doorstep:
1. CAST A WIDER NET
The beautiful thing about being writers in the Internet age is that we are afforded a global marketplace. Tap into it. If you’ve always sought local writing assignments, consider national and international publications. If you typically have specialized in one area of concentration, consider the benefits of becoming a generalist. Most of us are able to write on a wide array of topics, based upon our life experience, educational background, and work history. Dig deep. Search far.
2. NETWORK FOR MORE WORK
In order for you to expand your client base, your bottom line (and reach your full potential in times ahead), you’ll need to connect and build relationships with others, both online and in person. Social media has made things a lot easier. But be forewarned: it must be used wisely to reap the “write“ benefits. Instead of spending hours sharing cat videos, or engaging in political debates on Facebook, why not share links to your information products? Connect with an editor you admire on Twitter. Share your Linkedin profile with decision makers. Or, promote your recently published guest post at a top-tier site. You just never know where these activities could lead. It works if you work it!
3. COLLABORATE WITH OTHER SERVICE PROVIDERS
Writers can often find work with designers, illustrators, and others in the creative community. These artistic individuals periodically require content for their clients’ websites, social media projects, and collateral materials. Since the services being provided are not competitive in nature, these arrangements make for the perfect “marriage.”
4. RE-CONNECT WITH FORMER CLIENTS
The Pareto Principle contends that 80% of business will come from 20% of your customers. All the more reason why repeat customers should be courted and kept. They save you time, money, and marketing efforts. Why not establish a “Customer’s Appreciation” Day, or offer discounts for holidays, or certain spending levels? Leading retailers do. Another smart retention practice is to send cards and gifts for special occasions or business milestones.
Don’t get stuck in a rut. There’s great validity to the expression, “Never put all your eggs in one basket,” particularly for writers. Try your hand at writing greeting cards; consider guest posting outside of your blog niche; ghostwrite; offer online writing courses. The possibilities are endless. Having different projects not only provides multiple income streams but it can also combat boredom, and broaden your skill set, and your client base. For example, in the last few weeks I have earned money from selling poetry, writing articles, and creating a lesson plan assignment for educators for National Poetry Month.
6. RECOGNIZE THAT ALL JOBS ARE NOT “ADVERTISED” (According to NPR.org, 70-80% of jobs are not advertised).
In addition to applying to jobs posted on online job boards, pitch publications that you enjoy reading, and those where there are no advertised “openings.” There may be information gaps or a need for what you have to offer. Here’s a case in point. About seven years ago, I did some online research to identify a potential market for a piece I had written on dating and relationships. A Google search led me to a great online zine that accepted freelance submissions. I followed the guidelines carefully, and emailed my work. Turns out, the publisher really liked my style, and invited me to send additional articles. Since I had his attention, I pitched the idea of me doing a weekly relationship column (though there was no official job listed). He accepted…and the rest is history That gig ended up lasting for about five years. It was profitable, fun, and a solid portfolio builder. I might never had gotten the opportunity had I not made the first move.
Remember: “Fortune favors the bold.” When opportunity won’t knock, sometimes you’ll need to break down barriers, and open your own doors. Follow these timely tips for optimal results.
- Cold-Pitching Your Freelance Writing Business the SMART Way – by Mikey Chlanda
- Creative Writing Ideas to Pitch Locally By Debra Johanyak
- FOUR WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR FREELANCE INCOME By Lisa Beamer
- Pitch The Big Publications Like You’re Worth It…Because You ARE! By Darlena Cunha
- Tweet, Tweet: Using Social Media to Increase Sales By Lisa Tiffin
- Increase Your Web Writing Gigs by 50% or More with These 6 Simple Tips By Rebecca Jacoby
JENNIFER BROWN BANKS is a veteran freelance writer, award-winning blogger, ghost writer and author. Publishing credits include: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha and Chicago Sun-times. Banks considers herself a time management guru, (in addition to being a writer). Learn more at her popular blog, Pen & Prosper.
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I really appreciate your thoughtful comment. It made me smile.
Thank you so kindly for your time and comment.
Dear Ms. Banks,
Thank you so much for this wonderful article! It has everything I am looking for in an article for writers: take-away value, personal example, encouragement, a call to action, and an inspiration quote. I like your writing style: “collapsing like cheap umbrellas” is an awesome comparison!
All the best in your creative endeavors!