Last week I learned some news that, while a bit annoying, has provided fodder for a blog post (which is good because I couldn’t think of anything else to write about).
The news was that my primary source of income – an online content mill that pays quite well and has always provided a steady stream of work – will go into complete shut down for two weeks at the end of the year. And by complete, I mean COMPLETE. No work can be claimed or submitted, which means two weeks of no money from that little cash cow.
Plenty of people in the forums freaked out, railing on about how they would no longer be able to pay their bills, provide a decent Christmas for their family and the like. The news does suck because in past years the site has always given bonuses for people who worked over any holiday and because the announcement came less then three weeks before the shut down giving folks little time to plan for the end of their cash flow.
LIVE AND LEARN
The point that needs to be brought up with this news is that writers should never rely on only one source of income. Okay, this is not true if you’re Stephen King or some other mega-famous writer who can live off one source of income: Writing books (lucky bastards). In other words, you cannot put all your eggs into one basket when it comes to writing.
EXPECT CHANGE & INSTABILITY
Clients come and clients go. You may find one that pays really well and with whom you have a great relationship, then something changes and the client no longer wants to work with you regardless of how diplomatic you try to be. This happened to me when I questioned a client about a change in payment terms (they were trying to pay less than promised for a job). If you write for a website, remember that websites go under just like any business (I’ve also had this experience) or policies can change making them undesirable to work for (yes, this happened too).
HUNTING FOR EGGS
As a writer trying to make a living from the pen, you NEED to multi-task, or rather, multi-job. Avoid relying on one income source as tempting as it may be unless you are making enough to save up for any problems that may arise with that income source. Instead, just as with a good investment strategy, you need to diversify.
How can you spread the wealth of your words? Take advantage of any writing opportunity without getting so busy you end up going insane. There are plenty of ways to make money through writing and even I’ve only tapped into a few of them (I can be a bit lazy).
- Write for magazines, but plan for long lead times in most cases. Magazines include glossy monthly magazines that want how-to or general interest articles, but also local magazines that take personal essays or humor pieces.
- Find clients who want newsletters, editing, proofreading, resumes, copywriting. Craigslist can be a good way to find these clients or you can bid on jobs at sites like Guru.com (keep in mind though that most Guru clients do not want to pay top dollar for your work, they want a bargain so plan your time accordingly).
- Write for websites. Plenty of sites across the web will actually pay you to add to their content.
- Monetize your blog. I still need to figure this one out.
- Write for content mills. I know, I know, there is a staunch group of writers who refuse to write for content mills saying they force you to write to a formula, sap your writer’s soul and do nothing to advance your writing career. But seriously, once you learn the formula, you can make some decent money selling your soul to the devil. And to tell the truth, some of the requirements of content mills do force you to be a better writer such as teaching you how to research efficiently, steering you away from passive verbs and writing concisely to a specific audience. And notice I said “mills” as in plural, avoid writing for one place only.
- Submit your short stories and essays to journals, e-zines and writing contests (aim for the free ones or set a small budget of how much you will spend each month on contests).
- Consider writing for sites like Constant Content where you submit articles for websites to purchase. You can decide which rights you want to give up and charge more depending on what rights the client buys.
This is only a handful of ways writers can earn money through writing (you could, of course, get that most dreaded of things…a real job. EW!!!). There are simply too many opportunities to make money with writing to throw all your eggs into one basket (or all your beans if you’re vegan), so go forth, organize your submission calendars and share your words with the world…oh, and get some cash while you’re at it.
Please feel free to add in your suggestions for ways to make money through writing (please, legal ideas only) or share your experience with finding clients/jobs.
- My Sassy Garden Girl blog has been nominated for a blogging award. Yeah, that was a nice email to wake up to yesterday.
- I’m still taking submissions for posts, but have made a few changes to the submission process. Rather than “applying” to write for either this blog or the Sassy Garden Girl blog, you can now send in your submissions on spec. I promise to try to get back to everyone who submits. So, if there’s a favorite library or garden in the world you want to tell the world about, please check out my Call for Submissions and send me your words!
- Draft 4 of The Trials of Hercules is done! I’m now re-reading Elizabeth Lyon’s Manuscript Makeover to get some terrific hints of what to focus on in Draft 5. Let’s just say, writing is not work, it’s the revision that’s the full-time job.
AND A QUICK SALES PITCH…
Since it’s the time of year when you should be thinking about the gardener in your life (especially if that gardener is you), don’t forget the about my two books that should be added to any gardener’s collection…
- Going Native: Small Steps to a Healthy Garden for anyone who wants a healthy and easy-care garden that also helps out native wildlife.
- The My Garden Journal where gardeners can track their garden dreams, chores and observations…and get a few tips throughout the year.