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Tips and tricks for making money writing articles or independent books.

Updated on September 14, 2014
Feeling lost in the wilderness when you write?
Feeling lost in the wilderness when you write? | Source

Steps to Sucess

  1. Know your goal, long term.
  2. Know your skills, talents, gifts, and weakness.
  3. Select projects that prey on your strengths.
  4. Live your life so your experience can show in your work.
  5. Follow through after your work is "done" to keep it fresh, and ensure its giving you the most.

Do you find it difficult to keep focused on a single long term goal?

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Know yourself and your goals

Knowing what your good at and where you want your writing career(or hobby) to take you is very important, and this knowledge will guide you in successfully executing any writing project. Before you set out on your journey set a clear goal. Someone once said some mumbo jumbo about long journeys starting with one step; that's all well and good but I'm pretty sure most journeys start with you deciding where your going(or with being kidnapped).

Choose a fairly specific far reaching goal that is tailored to you. Consider it for a few days when you think you have one. If your goal is to write and publish a book, or have a top ten blog, that's all well and good; but if what you really want is to become someone who makes their living from writing then make certain that you don't chose a simple milestone as your goal. This is important because your going to use your goal to make every decision along the way; so don't take it lightly.

My personal goal is this: I would like to make enough money from published works, blogs, and associated creative work to support my family comfortably and enjoy the process. Lets dissect it. Why didn't I just say make a living? Because that is particularly vague; when your setting goals for your entire career you need to be as specific as you possibly can be. I do not want to be a hobbyist writer(although that is indeed what I currently am), and it is not necessary for me to become wealthy; that is why my goal is to comfortably support my family. The next big part is HOW I am going to make money; why didn't I just say writing? After all I want to be an author, right? Absolutely; but when you work at a restaurant you aren't just a fry cook, your a dish washer, a janitor, a loss prevention specialist(or so your boss thinks) and a customer service representative. There is a host of other tasks which can make my writing career more successful. I can speak at schools or events, have book signings, post videos associated to my writing projects, sneak into college campuses and hide books on tables, and so on and so forth. You get the picture. The last I think is obvious but overlooked often; enjoy the process.

And so my goal is succinct, specific, and tailored specifically to me. If you've got a good one why don't you add it to the comments below?

Skills inventory starter questions

What is my favorite hobby.

What do I love to hear news about?

What do I spend most of my time doing?

What do I spend most of my spare time doing?

What jobs have I had?

What am I best at?

What do people ask me to help them with most?

Skills inventories look different in your head and on paper.
Skills inventories look different in your head and on paper.

Skills Inventory

What are you good at? What do you know? Stop focusing on your massive lexicon and your powerful prose for a few minutes(I know, parking the ecstatic author's ego is an onerous task). Are you a good cook? Do you know way more than most folks about military history? A comprehensive skills inventory will help you select writing projects that you will excel at.

A student who has never written for anything more than an assignment at school is not likely to produce exceptional work on profitable independent writing; likewise that student is quite likely to be able to produce an exceptional piece on something school related; perhaps course or teacher selection, dorm room survival, or time management. Keep your skills inventory close to your heart; being aware of what your good at will guide you towards selecting the best next project for you. Most importantly, list everything you are skilled or knowledgeable about; just remember that anything anyone might ever Google is a potentially profitable project for the independent writer. There are some questions to the side that might help you get started.

To write is to teach; and to teach well you have to know the subject from any direction any student might approach it. Use your skills, and develop the knowledge beyond what you need just to finish your project. It'll come in handy.

Project Selection

This one always entertains me. When I was growing up I spent so much time looking for advice from the great novelists of my time; guys like Salvatore and Gordon Dickson were my bread and butter. Those guys have deadlines. Indies don't. We live in a different world. Picking a project is key to success; but you don't have to limit yourself to one at a time. I've got a whole host of projects I keep running, and I switch between them as my creative train stalls and chugs respectively. Sometimes having more than one iron in the fire can serve to pump your creative juices along, but there's a whole section below about that.

The first thing about picking a project, you need to find something your interested in writing about; then comes the real work: deciding if its the right one. Here are some questions you need to know the answers to before you crank up that typewriter(please tell me someone knows what that is.)

How will this move me towards achieving my goal? If it won't, then either your goal is wrong, or this project is a waste of time. Think creatively. If you need practice writing, or you are running low on projects and need to keep your fingers wet, maybe this project will help by keeping you on the horse and moving towards the sunset; but don't lie to yourself. If a project isn't helping you towards your goal there’s probably something better you can be doing with your time.

What points of my skills inventory does this take advantage of? If there is an interest or talent that you are taking advantage of think about any way that you can tie in other skills or interests to make the project stronger. Perhaps use your video skills to make a supporting youtube clip, or take advantage of your awesome camping talents to go out and get some photographs of some rare event you want to capture and share.

What skills or knowledge could help the project that I don't have? Do your fact finding before hand, if there's a weakness you need to remedy to produce excellent work, don't walk away; FIX IT! Spend a few days on Google learning what you can about your weakness. Remember that when you share through writing you are teaching. To know something well enough to understand yourself is one thing; but to know something well enough to make someone else understand it you have to be able to think about whatever it is from every angle that a potential student might. That means understanding beyond simply what you intend to convey.

Project Execution Tips

  • Execution doesn't stop when the writing is done
  • When writers block sets in, sometimes it takes a break to break through.
  • Experience the world during the writing process to keep your creative juices flowing.
  • Have a plan for getting your intellectual property out in multiple formats and wide distribution.

Project Execution

Successful project execution as an Indie is often portrayed as getting the job done and getting the check. I'm gonna throw the shenanigan card right there. Successful project execution in Indie writing is utilizing your intellectual capital in such a way that your goals are advanced. That's it. It's important to note that project execution generally doesn't stop with finishing the writing or hitting the publish button. Execution of a project covers anything and everything that you do to promote your work, continue earning revenue from your work, and refining, improving, and completing your work.

Project execution is going to be the single most important part of the tasks you undertake as an independent writer. It's what gets you money, and what gets your intellectual property out there for consumption. Let's start with the most obvious part, getting the writing done. This a very individual process, some folks use fancy webs and graphs, some folks just sit down and do it. Regardless of what works for your prep writing, all of us get bogged down from time to time.

The thing to remember is that writing anything other than a toaster manual is a creative process. You shouldn't write sitting in the shell of a basement with the drapes closed and the doors locked unless your writing goal is to overthrow a well loved and successful government. Our creativity, everything we know, everything we write, it all comes from living life; experiencing the world is key to being a successful author. Don't be afraid to keep a regular job, or to go away from your typewriter(seriously, anyone know what those are?) and take a walk. You won't realize that getting pricked by a thorn is a perfect analogy to describe the relationship between crowds and politicians until you go out and get pricked by a thorn while your project about political dynamics is on your mind.

The other thing to keep in mind is that distractions are not always a bad thing. I have a number of games I play while I'm writing, and once a day I get up and go for a walk. Sometimes you can't think of what to write, and sometimes you just don't care; and that's ok too. Remember, if your at a writer's roadblock, sometimes it takes a break to break through.

For those moments when I don't care what's on the page, I have other projects. Generally I work on two or three short term projects and one or two long term projects at a time. My focus at the moment for long term is my novel, and when I get bored of that I have an emergency preparedness guide I'm working on. On the short term I work on one or two articles as I run out of materials or gumption to work on my long term projects. Distractions can sometimes be a life saver for the Indie author; remember you own what comes out of your head forever, so getting some more of it on paper can't be a bad thing.

After the writing is done you have to promote your writing, mold this campaign in such a way that it reinforces itself and all the work you do; while still reaching towards your goals. This may mean a handful of video clips, or it may mean some carefully placed forum posts on a how to or self help website. Regardless, don't just let your work sit there, check out this blog for tips and tricks on how to maximize the exposure your giving your own work after its published.

Follow up even after you think your finished

Don't forget to constantly refine your work. Every now and then revisit an older work and see if you can improve it. Beyond simple editing though, think about your entire execution of works you've already completed. Ask yourself if there’s something you can do to give it more exposure, perhaps write a supporting piece, or mention it in the comments section or even the body of another work you've since completed.

Next, don't be afraid to recycle. If you can get your work into an article, a book, a website, and a podcast; DO IT! Your intellectual property is yours forever(Unless you sell the rights, which kinda makes you not an Indie anymore), so don't be afraid to give your old work a new look in a new package.

I find asking yourself some simple questions when your looking at an older work is helpful.

Can I rewrite it to improve readability, SEO or outreach?

Is there information I can add, or a supporting or supplementary piece I could do?

What have I done to increase exposure to this work already, and what can I do now?

Is there another form I could republish this information in to increase its effectiveness?

Do you ever wonder if better prep before your projects would enhance quality?(If you don't, share your methods in the comments below!)

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