Can Writers Wear Both Creative and Business Hats?
Picture this: you making a living through your passion. And not just a “barely can scrape by” kind of living. I’m talking a pretty comfortable living where you don’t have to count your coins before filling up your gas tank or buying groceries for your family kind of living. This is what many creatives dream of when starting to monetize their craft.
What I’ve come to realize is everyone has a method to help you make big bucks. Everyone has a method to help you grow your followers to an insanely huge amount. Everyone has a method for helping your brand stand out.
As a newbie to building your writing brand, it can be so easy to get lost in the noise. And believe me, I know. I’ve been a writer and storyteller since light up shoes first became a hit. I started out writing because it’s my passion but got lost along the way when I felt the push to monetize. Now, don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with wanting (or needing) to monetize. We all have bills and personally, I enjoy snuggling up with my beloved bear blanket in my Queen sized bed.
Here’s the thing, though: you can’t let the need or desire to monetize your writing or brand dilute your message. You can’t let monetization stop you from meeting the needs of your intended audience.
Business is about making money, right? Good business people will tell you this long list of things you must do to make money--and these things may or may not be helpful to your situation. But here’s the thing: you have to learn how to balance your craft and your business hats. So, how do you do this?
Know your message.
What do you enjoy writing about? Take some time to really think about it. I have changed writing topics almost as much I change socks. I started out blogging motivational pieces and about my favorite recipes, my family, and life as an educator. Then, I started writing about self-publishing, success, entrepreneurship… I mean, really, can we agree I didn’t really know what my message was? The great thing about me changing my writing topic so many times, though, is that I got a chance to learn what I did and didn’t enjoy writing about--which is important.
My point is, you have to know your message and be confident in it. You don’t have to write about XYZ just because some other really popular person is writing about that topic. You have to believe your message is important and worth sharing. Don’t second guess yourself, but also know that it’s okay if your message does eventually change.
I believe there are seasons for everything. You may be called to write about motherhood right now, and later go on to incorporate more pieces about self-love because maybe you discovered through motherhood that you needed to learn how to love yourself a bit more. That’s okay. Just be clear on your message.
Know your audience.
I have heard this tip from so many people in the online space. But you know what? It’s a good one. When you first start out writing, you may not know exactly to whom you’re writing. That’s okay. We all need the space to explore and test the waters. However, if you plan to make a good profit from your writing, you eventually need to know to whom to tailor your writing. Why? Because it can be difficult to build a writing brand (or any brand for that matter) when you’re writing about 15,000 different topics that don’t connect (okay, that number is an exaggeration, but you get my point). So, take the time you need to dig deep and find out who will benefit from your writing.
Know your why.
So, you know what you want to write about and you may even know who your writing is meant to serve. You’re off to a great start, friend. But here’s the thing: you must know why. Why do you want to write about XYZ for that particular group of people? How does it benefit you? How does it benefit anyone else?
It may take you some time to figure this out, and that’s okay. Something that helped me understand my why was defining my core values as a person and as a writer. Once I did this, it was easier to be sure about why my message needs to be heard.
As a creative entrepreneur, knowing your why will also help you remain focused and guard against the S.O.S. Syndrome--also known as Shiny Object Syndrome. You see, sometimes, writers who decide to monetize can get caught up in creating an email list, the branding process, or even learning how to use social media to attract their ideal reader or customer. All of these things have their purpose. Yet, don’t get so caught up in learning a new strategy and following new techniques (that may or may not sound a bit scammy) that you forget why you’re building this brand and sharing your message.
Know your goals.
Last, but not least, define some clear, specific goals. What are your writing goals? How do you plan on owning and sharing your truths while meeting the needs of your readers? How will you know you’ve successfully done this?
You can start forming your writing goals by looking back at your message, your audience, and your why. Maybe your goals are to organically grow your email list to 500 subscribers by December 31 of next year, and you want to generate an income of $5000 by the same date. Now, what?
Now, you decide how to make this happen. Do you need to write more blog posts that authentically connect you with your readers? Do you need a new, valuable opt-in for your subscriber list? How many copies of your book will you need to sell each month? Will you use a speaking platform to spread awareness about your brand and generate additional income?
There are so many ways you could go about this. The important thing is to stay true to your brand. Stay true to who you are as a writer and as a person. And know that you can do this while building a business you can be proud of. And who knows? Maybe you’ll end up making that pretty comfortable living purely from your writing one day.