Starting a business is a major decision. Even if you didn’t think about it, at some point you wrote a book and now want to sell it. You’ve already started down this journey. You ARE an entrepreneur. Unfortunately, according to Forbes only 1 in every 10 businesses will survive. This applies even to the unintentional writer-preneurs; we have a 10% chance at success.
While this doesn’t mean that everyone who fails just vanishes, just that some never earn enough money to be able to make a living from their endeavor. Some writers don’t care about the money, and in a way, I can respect that. For me, writing is my passion. If there is something I can do to help me make a living through my spinning words, I would be an idiot not to try.
The most successful start-ups do not just jump into the market and say, “I’m a business, buy from me!” But At least in my case, that is kind of how I initially approached writing. I always enjoyed it, but one day I just made the decision that I was going to be a writer. I had no research, and honestly, I didn’t care. If I could make a living by creating fantastical worlds, I would. This entire attitude was a mistake.
I’m not saying that writing fiction is wrong (I still do it, obviously). What I am saying is that the approach is wrong. Once you make the decision to make a living from writing, it is important to know the financial status of the industry. Again, it is freaking bleak. According to Quora, the average salary for a successful fiction writer in is $13,750.00/year. In fact, that is well below the federal poverty level. This doesn’t mean there is no hope; you just have to get a bit creative with how you will earn a decent income.
Enter the Writer-preneur
In the investment world, a mutual fund is a product compromised of a bunch of individual stocks. By lumping them all together, some of the stocks can perform poorly while the rest do well and overall keep the mutual fund profitable. This is how a Writer should structure their career. Instead of only focusing on writing science-fiction novels, try short stories, try romance, hell try cookbooks for all I care. My point is that limiting yourself to only one option is like putting all of your money into a single stock. If it doesn’t work out, you’re screwed.
Even though short story markets are easier to break into than novels, in the grand scheme of things, they pay crap. Yes, SFWA states that a professional pay rate $0.06/word, and a 4000-word short story would earn $240.00. That might seem like a decent payoff, but how many hours did it take writing it? How about revisions? Did you factor in the time for proofreading? What about all of the weeks it takes just to get rejected? In the long run, the professional pay rate is terrible. While it is entirely possible that you will write something incredible, win a Hugo, and break in with a six-figure book deal, this is like winning the lottery. As part of a savvy Writer-prenuer’s portfolio, it should only be a part, not the whole.
A much higher paying career field is one of copywriting. According to our good friends at Glassdoor, the average copywriter makes $55,000.00 per year. That is more than 3x higher than their creative writing counterparts. This writing is all focused on selling things, and with the explosion of content marketing, this field is booming. A day job as a copywriter can provide you with a comfortable living while you still go after that huge book deal.
Freelancing is the Midpoint between a Job & a Business
Finding a traditional job as a copywriter can be difficult. Freelancing is like the midpoint between being a creative writer and a traditional copywriter and is the most like running a business. You set your hours, and you set your prices. The downside? You also have to find your own clients. This requires honing a set of skills completely different than writing, sales. If you can approach businesses, convince them of your value, and offer them a solution better than they could get by hiring someone, you can make it as a freelancer.
It is entirely possible to pick up a client that will pay you $50,000.00 in order to completely run their blog for a year. For some people, that might sound like nothing, but for others, it is a lot of money. The best part is that you can still take on new clients, and if you get to the point where you are overworked, freelancing is easy to transition into an agency. Simply hire some newer writers to generate the content (but pay them with money, not freaking exposure, we talked about this two weeks ago). By factoring in a 30% profit margin, you can ensure that your business will have enough to cover its overhead with some to spare.
I have no intention of giving up on my dream to become a novelist. I am willing to try different avenues in order to get me there. Every day that I spend writing is another that I hone my craft. By enjoying my work, I feel more energized to tackle projects that seem intense and larger than life. Even though the average creative writer is well under the poverty line, you don’t have to follow their example.
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Don’t Leave, I’m hosting a Contest!
The last thing I wanted to talk about something kind of cool. On June 30th, I am going to hold a drawing in which every member of my email list will have a chance to win a Writer’s Toolkit (The contents of the toolkit are pictured below, and they will all be print books). If you reblog/share this post, I will put your name in the drawing twice (once for signing up to the newsletter and once for sharing, but no more than twice for any single person). I will contact the winner directly through email in order to get shipping information, but if they do not respond in seven days, they will forfeit the prize, and I will redraw. (I am literally going to print names off, cut them up, and stick them in a hat. I will post a video of the drawing in early July in order to publically announce the winner). If you are interested, click on the subscribe link below in order to enter.