We are living in the best time ever to make a living with writing. The internet makes it possible to sell your written words directly to a global audience.
But there is only one catch. It won’t happen by itself. You will have to have a strategy.
The strategy is the last of the five pillars of authorpreneurship.
In the last four articles, I wrote about mindset, time, skills, and stamina. If you haven’t read them yet, it is worth reading them first before continuing with this article, as it ties all the elements discussed before.
Success comes by design, not accident.
The word “strategy” originated on the literal battlefield. It derives from an ancient Greek word referring to the art of setting up military resources in preparation for war. In addition, more than a few business experts have compared strategic planning to a chess match, in that it usually requires you to concentrate not only on the field of play before you, but on numerous moves ahead. — Keith Krach
When I embarked on my writing journey, I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I did things in the “monkey sees; monkey does” manner.
I followed whatever advice I could find ( I must admit there is no shortage of that).
Soon I discovered not all the advice applied to everyone.
Yes, there were some common pathways, but everyone’s journey was different. Certain things came naturally to me, such as inspirational writing, teaching, and fiction writing. But then there are things that I can’t bring myself to attempt.
Your strengths and temperament play a big part in ensuring your success. Your strategy should be based on these two factors first and foremost.
Decide what kind of a writer you want to become
According to my understanding, there are three kinds of entrepreneur writers:
- Content Writers
- Non-fiction Writers
- Fiction Writers
Although there are no hard boundaries and most successful writers write all three kinds, they choose one form as their primary form.
You need to figure out what will be your main focus initially. Not all writing is the same.
A fiction writer might also write non-fiction books and produce regular content. As a content writer, you might embark on fiction writing. That is fine. You will initially have to decide on what you want to use as your primary form of writing.
There is a long learning curve for all three kinds of writing. And each one has different ways of making money.
The income source for the content writers is — freelancing, copywriting, blogging, ebooks, online courses, affiliate income, consulting, coaching, and professional speaking.
Non-fiction writers tend to make money through writing books either on one niche or multiple niches. They also heavily into brand-building through content marketing. But their main aim is to set themselves up as an authority in their field, providing consulting and coaching, and professional speaking.
Fiction writers write genre fiction. Genre fiction (such as thrillers, fantasy, romance) has a cult following, and new books are always in demand by readers who consume everything their favorite writers write.
Once you have figured out what kind of writing will be your primary source of income, you can look at other factors.
Think of yourself as an entrepreneur
This takes us back to the first article of the series, where I talked about the mindset.
It is hard for writers to think of their work as a business but consider for a moment:
Entrepreneurs create value from ideas. — Joanna Penn
If you agree with that, then writers are the ultimate entrepreneurs because we take our ideas and create articles, books, ebooks, print books, audios, and videos. We use a variety of ways to take our words and turn them into value. That value may give readers entertainment, information, or inspiration. It creates value for us as creators too, in terms of income.
Once you reframe your identity as an entrepreneur, you will only be able to devise your vision and mission statements and set your business goals.
Your vision statement will paint a picture of what your authorpreneur business would look like in five years or a decade or two, while your mission statement is your overall, lasting formulation of why your business exists and what it hopes to be.
It includes the goals you want to accomplish and an outline of how you intend to fulfill them.
A strategic plan needs a clear statement of your authorpreneur business purpose. Its reason for existing in the first place. Why did you start an authorpreneur business? What are you hoping to accomplish? What products or services are you offering? What value are they going to bring in people’s lives?
Focus on creating scalable income
In most jobs, you work for a certain number of hours, and you get paid for those hours. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. Your work is not scalable, as you’re paid once for the hours that you work.
With a scalable income, you create once and sell over and over again.
Let’s say you spend a year writing a book. The book can sell 100 copies, 1000 copies, or one million copies. Or it may earn money 70 years after you are dead. So your time is spent once, but the income from that time can continue for many years.
Your strategy should include creating content and books that earn you scalable income rather than a one-off payment. It might be a small trickle at first, but that will increase in time as you add more to your portfolio.
Most of us need to have a balance at the beginning as we need money to pay bills. But when you sit down to work, ask yourself — Is what I’m doing scalable?
Concentrate on developing multiple streams of income
For many people, their job is their only source of income which they can lose any time. In today’s world, nothing is stable, corporations least of all.
The same principle applies to making a living with writing. It is important to make sure that you have more than one source of incoming cash. If you have just one platform, one book, one course, or one publisher, you’re likely to find yourself in trouble.
As we live in a fast-changing world, and global internet penetration is expanding every month. To make a living from writing, it is important expanding your horizon. Your strategy should include that.
Create author business plan
A business plan might sound like a dry, soulless thing to write as a writer but think again.
Business is creative.
Everything you can see around you was once an idea in someone’s head. A business mindset took that idea, converted it into a product, and made it available to the general masses to use and benefit from it.
If you can reframe business as creative, then you can also frame a business plan. You are actively shaping your future writing career. What could be more creative than that!
If you can articulate what you want, you can turn it into reality. It becomes a goal.
A goal could be achieved if you take consistent action towards it for a long time.
But a business plan is more than a goal or a dream.
A business plan has a high-level strategic focus on several levels such as:
- Business Summary
- Financial Goals
- Publishing Strategy
Once you have a business plan, it becomes a stepping-off point for the next stage of your authorpreneur journey. It provides you a clear direction—something you should regularly view and update.
I hope this article series is helpful in understanding and preparing you for your authorpreneur journey.
I would love to hear your views in the comments section.
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I am forever indebted to Joanna Penn for leading the way. Her books How To Make a Living With Your Writing and Your Author Business Plan made it so easy to understand a business that is becoming so very complex each day. Much of the material in this article has come from her books.