Getting Noticed: How to Hub Your Way into a Full-Time Writing Career
The Writer’s Life Will be Your Best Life ... If You Can Manage It.
Everyone has a flashpoint, that brief moment when life suddenly turns, without warning. The triggering event can be anything: an illness, an argument, or something positive. As for my own flashpoint, I was working a day job while attending Brooklyn College back in the 80s, stocking tools on a shelf for a local department store. My boss called me into the office at the end of my shift. He smiled, and said, “You have a real future here, kid. Great job today.”
I didn’t return the following morning. I quit. My boss’ words scared the hell out of me. I realized at that moment I had become complacent, satisfied with a simple weekly paycheck. Thing is, I didn’t want to stock shelves for a living. Honest work, sure, but it wasn’t me.
I wanted to move to Los Angeles to be a writer.
Five years later, when I finally did move to Los Angeles to set on my course, I noticed several things:
I had to work daily to meet those people who could influence my career. Networking became a way of life. Constant exposure was a must. I needed to be noticed, and speaking to everyone was a necessity. I had realized early that I could meet anyone I wanted to meet. Anyone at all, because people know people.
I asked myself, If certain people are able to succeed - regardless of industry - why can’t I? It was a good question.
The Internet was in its infancy when I began to take my career seriously. I did not have a HubPages to lean on. I needed to write spec articles for magazines, and submit via snail mail. That’s how I got noticed, writing for sports entertainment magazines. Blogs and the like did not exist. I called newspapers to feature me as a local writer. If one out of 100 of those calls was successful, and led to a story, that was one more story than I had the day before.
You get the idea. The first rule is this: If you want to write for a living, you need to write and sell yourself, and not make excuses. Anyone who has succeeded as a full-time writer learned these facts early. We all have our lives, and our responsibilities. You need to write in whatever time you have. No excuses.
I’ll share some photos with you of my personal journey. My writer’s life has become exceedingly busy. You will certainly need to balance your lifestyle if you attain your desired professional goal. Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way, and I’m proud of, and grateful for, my continued progress.
But you need to put the work in, first of all. And then, when you “make it,” you must always give back, and mentor others as others may have mentored you. Always give along the way.
Hence the purpose of this article. In words and pictures, allow me to first prove myself to you, and then let me know how I can help.
My Introduction To HubPages
I joined the HubPages community two weeks ago, and I’m still finding my way around. There is a great deal I’ve yet to learn, but I’m getting there. Slow and steady will win the race, for sure, but I’ll say this much: HubPages is an incredible platform. I wish it was around when I was coming up.
I would have saved a bunch of money on stamps.
Some honest disclosure about my experiences here so far: I’ve published about a dozen featured articles, and I’ve earned a grand total of $0.44. I am not saying this to complain. I am saying it to be honest. Over the years, I’ve developed substantial followings on both Facebook and Linkedin (I never really cracked the Twitter thing), to the point where I am at my connections limit on both (5000 with followers, and 30,000 respectively). I speak around the world to writers and filmmakers, many of whom ask for my advice about leaving the day job behind.
My writing got me there. And still does.
I assume many of you already do this, but if you don’t ... I post my HubPages articles on the entirety of my social media, and also on Contently.com, which maintains a separate online portfolio. Now and then, I also share the ever-growing portfolio on my social media. I recommend it highly.
But I digress. I figured I’d spend some time registering on several freelance writing sites, such as HubPages, to determine their legitimacy and hopefully help others with my findings. I’ve heard HubPages is the place to be, and I’ve quite enjoyed stretching my writing muscles in this way. I’ll keep it up.
It’s been a learning experience, for sure.
And so I ask, in the positive, proactive spirit of networking: “How can I help you?“
Or, I’ll go one better. I won’t be so passive about it. I‘m resolutely convinced I can help you, if your goal is to be a full-time writer. Here’s how ...
Tips To Live By: Part One
Either you give up, or you do not. Day by day, you scale the highest peak of the highest mountain you need to climb, you swat away the fires or other obstacles, and you stand tall ... or you do not.
As Yoda said, “Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Never discount the words of green gremlin-like pop-culture icons.
Success is actionable. Common sense, no? You have the same 24 hours in a day as John Lennon, Pablo Picasso, and Mark Twain.
Then why aren’t you there, yet? Why aren’t you where you want to be? In fairness, though I have cultivated what some consider a “successful career” to this point, getting there has been fraught with turmoil. My creative passions have been hell on relationships, and balance is always a challenge based on new achievement. I still worry about money. If I don’t create, or sell, I don’t get paid. Despite talk to the contrary, usually from those attempting to use logic and not really in the know, once you attain some success, life does not get easier. As I alluded to before, it gets busier.
How busy do you want to be? How many hours do you want, or need, to expend on your passion?
How you utilize those hours is what makes the difference. If you are not attaining your desired result, you need to pivot.
Though I have some achievements behind me, I am personally not comfortable. I am nowhere near where I want to be.
I still need to win that Oscar for Best Screenplay.
There’s still time.
Tips To Live By: Part Two
More advice: Network, network, network. As I said, speak to everyone. Tell them about your HubPages work. Hold nothing back. Share with others, and others will want to share with you. Do for others, and others will want to do for you. Of course there are exceptions to these rules, but they’re just that. Exceptions. Don’t be “just good.“ Be “the best.“ Go where the “elephants” are, as in, attend events where those you believe you should meet gather on a regular basis, such as restaurants, speaking engagements, film festivals, pro networking groups ... anywhere and everywhere. Do your research.
Nearly every U.S. state has its share of opportunity. “I live in Idaho” is not an excuse. The Internet can be of immense help in that regard. So can a plane ticket, if you can afford it, to attend an out of town event. If not, maybe driving is an option.
Send some of your Hubs to a desired outlet though the old U.S. mail if necessary. These can be used for experienced people like myself as prime writing samples. I hire good writers when needed. I’m not the only one.
Use social media to your benefit. Define and build your “brand.” Utilize the media for your benefit. Contact your local newspaper if you believe you have a work of some merit ready to expose. It could be an article of some note. You have one chance to impress an editor, so only approach when you’re ready. Contact your local library to speak about your work. Get comfortable in front of crowds large and small.
Get out of your comfort zone.
Learn how to say “no.” You want respect, “no” is the strongest word you can offer. Do not write for free. Do not allow yourself to be taken advantage of. My industry is a tough nut. Its artists are not always respected, as many simply refuse to learn the business side of things and are subsequently preyed upon. Chances are, if you undertake an unpaid writing assignment, for example, with the promise of “exposure,” three people will see the end result: yourself, the hiring party, and your mother.
HubPages is the opposite. You’ll earn and gather an audience as you prove yourself. It’s a great test.
The Best Advice
The best advice I can offer you, fellow content creators, is this: Convince yourself that giving up on your dreams is more difficult than continuing your artistic journey. There is nothing wrong with taking a sabbatical, but never lose sight of your goals. Together, we comprise an artistic community that cannot ever be broken. A chain. If one link falls, the others falter; however, with the turn of a tool the links that remain still have a chance at connecting.
It’s sometimes wrenching to accept seeing one of your associates “make it” when you have not, regardless of how “happy” you are for them. You may be more talented, but if you quit the world will never know just how much you had to offer.
But your sense of resentment will surely be heightened.
Do what you must to stay inspired. Work on your craft daily. As Steve Martin said, “Be so good at something, it’s impossible to be ignored. Eminem represents those words to me. The late Robin Williams as well. J.K. Rowling too, and so many others.
If they can do it, why can’t you?
In Conclusion ...
When you play this game long enough, you’ll see that your career really is up to you. That said, I encourage each and every one of you: Please, ask me anything.
As I said earlier, “How can I help you?”