Today we have a guest post from Christina Katz, author of Writer Mama and Get Known Before the Book Deal (I’ll review Get Known next week), and the brand-new e-book Author Mama. Christina’s passion is helping writers understand their audience, and get further on the path to publication.
In this post, she shares practical tips for increasing your bottom line: actually getting paid for your writing. Check out Christina’s website here, and make sure you sign up for her free Prosperous Writer newsletter.
Prospering in the Gig Economy: Simple Habits for Writers That Pay Off Quickly
By Christina Katz
Money is what writers earn for their time and energy. Furthermore, writing careers are built over time not overnight. So don't put your career in jeopardy by paying attention to everything else at the expense of your bottom line.
Here are nine prosperity-increasing tips that can quickly become habit and put more money in the bank for the same number of hours you already work or maybe even less:
- Make a list of paid work vs. unpaid work, if you don't have one already and update it monthly. Add to-dos like upcoming deadlines and prep for future efforts, to make sure you don't have to scramble later.
- Prioritize the work you do that is paid over the work you do that is unpaid. This doesn't mean the unpaid work is not important or doesn't need to get done. It simply means that you will get the paid work done first and then tackle the unpaid work.
- Spend time with other writers who make money writing. If they are too busy (making money) to spend time with you, sign up for their newsletters, read their blogs or connect with them via social networking whenever possible. When contacting successful writers, keep your expectations realistic. There's a reason they make the big bucks and it's not because they are just hanging out all day. When you are working, whether online or off, be aware of folks who drain your energy or co-opt your time. You simply don't have time for those people when you are supposed to be working.
- Don't confuse "nice" people with profitable people. Let's say one writer invests all of his time trying to make sure everyone knows what a great guy he is, while another writer invests his time landing assignments, delivering on deadlines, and landing the next gig. Who is the more successful writer? I'd say it's the more productive writer (the second example). And he's the one I'd be more likely to trust, as well. So go ahead, broadcast your success!
- Tackle the types of assignments that pay directly. Forget about any kind of writing job you "might" get paid for. Also don't count writing you do for exposure as "paid." And when someone offers you vague future money for today's actual work, take twice as much time to carefully consider the offer. Why not just take on the sure-thing assignments, which are the projects that pay you directly for your work? If you keep things simple, you are more likely to prosper in both the short run and the long run.
- Spend the most time doing whatever you do best even if that means doing a few different things. For example, I don't only write because if I only wrote all day, I'd soon be bored out of my mind, no matter how interesting the topics were that I was writing on. A restless person like me needs to do a variety of things. So I also teach and speak and the three efforts feed each other and increase my overall value as a writer.
- However, don't spread yourself too thin. I do a lot of different things but I've noticed that I can only do so many things before I hit overload, especially since I am a busy mom and wife, as well as a working professional. This overload point is going to be different for everyone and can change with your life circumstances, so adjust your expectations accordingly. You want to do everything you do well, not just scrape by.
- Capture all of your business expense receipts as the year ticks along so that you can benefit from every deduction available to you when you pay your taxes. I am not the queen of filing things, so I just get a big basket and toss all my receipts in there until I'm ready to sort and report. If you need a primer on the specifics of what you can and can't expense, pick up the March/April issue of Writer's Digest magazine and check out the article, "Taxpertise For Writers" by Bonnie Lee. In fact, the theme of the issue is, "Your Economic Survival Guide," so why not read the whole thing?
- Be timely. Seek and adopt the simplest systems to help you meet your deadlines, pay your bills, get your taxes submitted, etc. It doesn't matter which system you use. What matters more is that you make good use of the systems that work best for you and switch when one method stops working for you.
I bet you want to spend as little of your time as possible being inefficient, so that you can get back to writing. So keep things simple: write, earn and prosper. An efficient writer is a profitable writer.
And now if you'll excuse me, I have some writing deadlines to meet.
Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Grow an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kidsfor Writer’s Digest Books. She has written hundreds of articles for national, regional, and online publications, presents at literary and publishing events around the country, and is a monthly columnist for the Willamette Writer. Katz publishes a weekly e-zine, The Prosperous Writer, and hosts The Northwest Author Series. She holds an MFA in writing from Columbia College Chicago and a BA from Dartmouth College. A “gentle taskmaster” to her hundred or so students each year, Katz channels over a decade of professional writing experience into success strategies that help writers get on track and get published.