There is a famous quote that a writer lives many lives. In today’s digital economy, this verbiage has never been more true. Beyond the typical writer, I also have to edit, market, build, and keep an eye on publishing details. Those many angles are not what this article is about. This article is about what it takes to become a full-time writer. (Hint: Not writing)
When I first started the desire to be a writer full time, I had a simple plan. Gain reputation in the content mills so I could use those as a “stop gap”. Then focus most of the time marketing directly for clients. On off times, write for myself and build up the recurring revenue. The hope was that the mix of work would take a lot at first, then I could shift more focus slowly into the recurring revenue/writing for myself.
The Content Mills: While each place is different, I found the following paraphrase very true. The less you are paid, the worse you are treated. Content mills have a lot of writers willing to work for peanuts. For example, I saw a “job” available for a movie review. This movie review needed to be written by a level 3 of 4 writer, not say anything about the actors, not say anything about production, not spoil the plot, not show any bias, only give facts, and be 50 words. The pay for concentrating so much power into 50 words? 30 cents. The content mills that pay an okay amount require a lot of slave labor work up front to prove yourself. Blah.
Small and Medium Business: So the other part of this was to approach local clients and tell them of all the great blogs and sales material I could generate. Their response was that unless I could guarantee them sales, they were not interested.
So how did I become a full-time writer after these obstacles? I didn’t. I do IT consulting to help pay the bills, along with some dog sitting. I do just enough to pay the bills and the rest of the time I write. (Or more specifically, writing tasks – promote, create, work with artists, etc) I still have content mills to pay the gaps and I hope to convert some small and medium business to writing clients. Until then – I do what I can to make time for writing.