So you want to be a writer?
A look at what it really means to become a professional writer, do you have what it takes?
There is a huge difference between writing as a hobby and writing as a profession. Most readers aren’t ever able to cross over from being a hobby writer to being a full time professional… but why is that?
First, you have to ask yourself what does being a professional writer look like to you?
Is it having a book? Is it making x amount of money a month? Is it being able to pay for the groceries, or a gym membership, maybe it’s being able to cover all of the monthly expenses while generating savings?
These are drastically different monetary and personal goals, but all of them can define you as a professional. Take a long hard look at where you want your career to go and start building towards that future.
What Kind Of Writer Are You?
It feels painfully obvious to me, but not everybody knows that you don’t have to be a novelist to be a writer. There are careers in journalism, business or tech writing; blogging in itself is a writing career.
Figure out what exactly you are planning to write because some fields of writing have sooner payoffs than others. You need to know what you’re getting yourself into. Novelists tend to write a book a year for ten years before they make a living, but business writers or bloggers could have a healthy paycheck in just a few months. Decide what you want to write, write for the passion of it but keep in mind that it may be worth putting your eggs in a few baskets while you’re trying to monetise your writing.
A certain amount of luck is required to become a professional writer. Unfortunately, it is no secret that lots and lots of people write, and you can get buried pretty quickly underneath all of the talent that our community has. It takes some luck to be seen by the right people. Often you need to be highlighted by someone else. Whether that’s the curators on Medium or a publicist or book reviewer, you need that little lift and recommendation to let readers know you’re out there.
If you’re like me, you really have no clue about marketing, I send links to my story out on twitter and only figured out how to make an e-mail list earlier today. That doesn’t stop me from trying to get my work seen.
Do as much research into marketing methods as you can. It might be a good idea to sink some of your income into advertising so that your work can get more exposure.
If that’s too scary, there are plenty of ways to DIY marketing. Putting posts up on Pinterest or Instagram can help bring in new traffic, there are plenty of sights where you can advertise your work or exchange it for emails to build a mailing list.
Marketing is something that I constantly have to research because it is my weak point. Don’t let being bad at an area of writing put you off the career. Jump in and see what happens, if you want it, it’s worth making a few mistakes for.
You won’t become a writer unless you put the hours in. I’m sorry, but that’s a simple fact of the matter. You should focus a few hours a week of your free time into building this career. Time can be hard to find but a spare five minutes here or there to type some new words or to post your work on Twitter will make a difference in your career.
Putting the time in and valuing your hobby is critical for surviving. The simple fact of writing is that you can’t become a professional if you don’t work like one. I’m not saying it has to be every day. You could treat writing as a zero-hour contract and do anywhere from fifteen minutes to 6 hours a week. Even if it’s a minimal amount of time, you are still working towards your goal. That’s so important!
If you’re willing to put in the time and the research into how to make it into the professional writers club then, by all means, you are very welcome! It’s hard, and it takes a really long time, but if this is your passion, you should absolutely pursue it! As always, I cannot wait to see you on the bookshelf!
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