I’m going be upfront with you in this video. Hopefully, a prospective writer gains a new perspective from watching this.
You see, I’ve been writing professionally for about 11 years now; and making a living from writing for over 8 years. Over this period, I’ve read and replied hundreds of emails from writers inquiring how to publish their book and make money from their creative effort. I’ve been added to writers groups where everyone is free to vent their frustration with making a living from doing what they love.
One common thing I have noticed is that most writers are struggling. And most of those that are not broke are supplementing their income from something else. In fact, the statistics of writers making up to a hundred dollars per month is terribly discouraging; the vast majority makes nothing.
From time to time, they read stories about an author that had a major breakthrough with a book and become a bestseller or a writer that works with a major online media company traveling the world and living their dream. Stories like this give hope to the struggling writers. But deep down, they are asking the question, does it really pay to write? Is it really worth it?
Before you conclude that writing does not pay because of the statistic, there is something I need you to remember. This reality is not peculiar to writing. Wealth and income inequality cuts across every aspect of life.
For a start, the top 1 percent richest people in the society control as much wealth as the bottom half of the population. That does not mean that people don’t get rich every day.
About 40 percent of businesses fail within the first year, and 80 percent within the first five years. That does not mean that new businesses do not succeed.
Majority of graduates are either unemployed or underemployed. That does not mean that new people don’t become gainfully employed every day.
Majority of YouTube channels do not make money. Yet there are people starting new channels and making thousands of dollars within months.
I hope you are getting the point. That majority of writers don’t make money does not mean that writing does not pay.
So if people are getting rich every day and you want to be rich, you ask what rich people are doing that you are not doing.
If new businesses still succeed despite the overwhelming rate of failure, you want to know what these successful ones are doing that you are not.
It’s the same with writing. If there are writer who are making full time income; you want to know what these writers are doing that you are probably not doing. You also want to know what you are doing that is holding you back.
So, does it really pay to be a writer?
The answer is; it depends.
Does it really pay to be a lawyer? It depends.
Does it really pay to be a real estate agent? It depends.
How I look at it; and something most writers don’t get.
If you have good writing skill, what you have is just raw material. You have raw talent. Just like someone who can speak well, you can write well. But that on its own is useless. You can be a good write and still be broke.
If you want to make a living from writing, you have to apply your writing skill to a purpose that has commercial value.
A writer once told me that he has been writing for over 5 years and has never made a total of $100. When I asked what he wrote about, he had a blog where he writes about politics. He writes what he wants and when he feels like writing. This is what most writers do. They just want to write what they want to write.
No one builds a business doing whatever they want to do. You build a business giving the market what it wants in your unique way. Writing is not different.
I learned this lesson early in my writing career and it made a whole lot of difference for me. You don’t write what you want to write, you write what people want to read.
Most Writers Are Not Professional Writer
The next important thing you must understand if you want to make a living from writing is that you must become a professional writer. You see, anyone can call themselves a writer because they wrote a couple of articles and someone told them they are good writers. Applauds to you for that. But you are just someone with a raw talent that needs to be subjected to training. And you get that training from writing every day.
Many people will not like this one, but it is a must if you are serious with building a writing career or business. You’ve got to develop the habit to write, whether you feel like it or not. Most writers are just hobbyists.
It’s like when we were kids; we used to play street football. We play whenever we had the chance to. Some of us were players with talent, while some of us where average. But none of us called ourselves footballers. We were just kids who play football because we loved to.
It’s only the kids who defy every other activity, even disobeyed their parents to keep up with their passion for football that eventually had the chance to become professional footballers later on. And guess what, when these kids get on the habitual training to develop their football skill, it’s no longer about doing what they love. It’s now about developing the discipline to show up for training whether they feel like it or not.
Writing is not any different. If you want to make a living from writing, you have to become a professional writer. And the way to become a professional writer is to enroll in the training of writing. The beauty of it is that, you can build your portfolio while you are on this training. You can start a blog if you don’t already have one.
I’ve seen a lot of writers who start writing on their blog, and after 6 months, 12 months, 24 months, only 50 people are reading. No revenue from ads; no affiliate sales; no one is hiring them for freelance services. Then they give up. There are two things I will to tell you on this.
You have to make sure you are doing the right thing
I almost got into an argument with a writer at a meeting. It was a physical meeting for professionals in related industries to network and share ideas. One writer spent time talking about how she loves to write about anything. As long as it involved writing, she was willing to accept the job. But at the same time, she was complaining about how most of the projects ended up in a bad note because the clients were too demanding and had impractical expectation.
I tried to help her see there was a possibility the problem was with her strategy. And she wouldn’t have anyone tell her she was doing something wrong.
You see, consistency is an important ingredient of success. But when you are consistent with doing the wrong thing, you’ll be accelerating backward. Before you commit to be consistent with a strategy over 12, 24 months, you have to be sure you are doing the right thing. For example, if your strategy is to accept any freelance writing job on any topic, you may be consistent with this strategy; but you are simply setting yourself up to be a jack of all trade and master of none.
You may be able to juggle any kind of ball with your two legs; be it volley ball, football, or basketball – as long as it is round. But, it is until you choose one ball and get good at playing in the game that ball is made for that you truly start becoming a professional. Writing is just raw talent, and writing just about anything doesn’t make you a professional writer.
If you are doing the right thing, you need to hang in there
There is this concept known as the totalitarian principle. It states that everything not forbidden is compulsory. In other words, when you still have other option, you are bound to default to the alternative. To explain that with writing, if you are simply trying out writing to see if it works, with the option of walking away if it does not work, then you are bound to walk away. According to the 100 percent rule; 100 percent commitment is easier than 98%.
A medical doctor is 100 percent a medical doctor. He is avowed a medical doctor whether the profession is paying him well or not. If you are going to succeed as a writer, and are doing the right thing, you have to adopt the 100 percent rule. You are a professional writer, period.
You have to be humble enough to know that your writing is not about you but about your reader. You want to write to help people solve problems. And you have to pay your dues by sticking around long enough. The reward will come. And it could be reward that would change your life. I mean it. It could practically change your life.
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