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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

14 Simple Steps To Ensure Success With Your Writing for the Next 12 Months


Today I have a syndicated guest post for you by my co-author on The Wealthy Writer course, Ruth Barringham.

In her post below, Ruth sets out twelve pieces of excellent advice to get your freelance writing career on track for the year ahead.

Ruth is a prolific and inspirational writer/publisher, and I always enjoy and gain something useful from her articles. This one is no exception...

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Unless you’re planning on not writing any more in the next 12 months, now is the time to set yourself up for success for not just next year, but the next 5 or even the next 10.

Give me just five minutes of your time and I’ll show you the 14 steps you need to take to achieve all your writing dreams in the year ahead.

1. A business plan. Now while this may sound boring, it's not. If you're a writer, sitting down and writing out how you see your writing career really taking off in the coming 12 months can be really inspiring.

Just sit down with a pad and pen and imagine where you want your writing career/business to be in one year's time.

Be as bold as you want. Do you want to make $100,000 in e-book sales? Or how about $200,000? Or maybe you want to earn enough money to hire an assistant and a book-cover designer and an editor?

Think of where you want to be with your writing in 10 years. Then work it back to 5 years. From there, work out what you need to be doing in the next 12 months to get it started.

2. Manage your time. If you're like most writers, not only are you the writer, you're also an editor, proofreader, bookkeeper and stationery supply manager.

So it's important to make a written time map to see where you are spending most of your time.

Tracking your time can be a real eye opener and will help you to see where you're wasting time on unimportant tasks.

It will also help you to see how you can prioritize better and spend more time on things that are more important.

As a writer, at least 80% of your time should be spent writing.

3. Decide what's important. Once your time can be better managed, because you have a clearer picture of where you're wasting time, you then need to make a list of what is really important to move your business forward and which tasks are simply unproductive busywork.

It may be that you need to spend less time online or that you need to allocate certain hours or times of day (or certain days) to complete mundane jobs like bookkeeping or answering e-mail.

Put the urgent tasks to the top of your to-do list, but only if they're important.

4. Outsource. Once you've had a long hard look at your time management and you've figured out where you're going wrong, see if there's anything you can outsource.

It may be that book cover designing takes you far too long. So it would be better to pay someone else to do it so that you can get on with your writing.

5. Pretend to hire staff. If you wear a lot of different "hats" every day (bookkeeper, cover designer, web page designer, editor, etc) try this simple, yet effective trick.

Write out a job description for each of these roles. Write it as though you’re actually planning to use it to hire someone to do the work. Include their duties and how many hours a week they'll be working.

Then use this list to understand what you need to do in these roles yourself and see how much (or how little) time you really need to accomplish each one.

And when you eventually do want to hire someone, you'll have a job description ready.

6. Work out a marketing schedule. Now you know exactly what you need to do and when, you’re going to be a writing and publishing dynamo. So the next thing you need to plan is a marketing schedule.

Map out how you’re going to market yourself, and have an ongoing plan of action.

Marketing only works if it's consistent. You have to figure out how you're going to keep putting yourself in front of new and existing audiences for one whole year.

7. Optimizing your website. Is your website fulfilling its purpose? Do you know what you are actually trying to achieve with your website?

If you can afford it, having an SEO professional audit your site can be a real eye-opener as to why your website is or isn’t performing well.

If you can't afford to hire a professional, look at other websites in your niche and see what keywords they’re using and how they present their information.

8. Update your business. What products do you use to run your business? Is it time to buy new software or to automate or delegate certain tasks?

Look at how you run your business and see if there are things you can buy to help grease your daily workflow. Simplify your productive time by having the right software and systems that will save you time and frustration.

9. Read more. If your mind doesn't grow, it stagnates. And in the online world, things change rapidly, so you need to keep up to date with the business world you live in.

But don't read too tightly in your niche. If you're a writer, read technology sites and newsletters, hang around readers forums, know what celebrities are up to.

Reading more broadly helps you to be more creative and have more ideas, and makes it easier to keep track of what you need to know.

10. Check your social media habits. If not done correctly, social media can be a real time vampire. If you blindly spend time on social media without a clear objective, you're wasting your time.

Create a plan of what you want to achieve with social media and how you're going to implement it.
And then monitor and measure what you do to make sure it's working. And if it's not, see what needs to change.

11. Learn something new. In life, if you're not growing, you're dying. So make sure you're always learning. And learn something big...
  • Learn how to market more effectively.
  • Learn and implement better time-management strategies.
  • Learn SEO.
  • Learn how to write HTML code or CSS.
  • Take a writing course.
  • Learn how to use book cover creating software.

12. Plan more learning. It's not only the big stuff you need to learn. You can plan out a whole year’s worth of seminars you want to attend, audios you want to listen to, and writing courses you want to take.

How about planning one every month?

Think one a month is too much? It’s not if you’re really serious about your writing success.

13. Write for print magazines. There are thousands of opportunities to write for print magazines. Find a good list of writing opportunities and start sending in queries.

Just remember that magazine editors plan their content 6 to 9 months ahead. So if you want to write a seasonal piece for their Christmas issue, send it in before June.

Writing for magazines really helps because it brings in money quickly, and listing all the places you've been published looks great on your resume.

And if you're good, it can turn into regular work.

14. Collect emotions and memories. This really helps when you're writing for magazines. It’s hard to write about a snowy Christmas Eve in the middle of summer. And it's just as difficult to write about hot summer days when a snow blizzard is beating against your window.

So at seasonal times and events, keep a written record of smells, sights, sounds, feelings and emotions. It will make your writing easier when writing out of time for the season.

And that's the 14 most important things you need to be starting right now, especially if your writing career still isn't where you want it to be.

But you need to start immediately. Passive reading won't help you, but action will.

Will you take action?

The question really is, how bad do you want it?

If life is getting in the way and you don’t feel that you have the time to implement such big bold plans, then why not let The 12 Month Writing Challenge do the work for you?

This is a massive course that leads you step-by-step through 12 months of writing and earning money, with no planning required.

Just download the course and you can begin straight away.

And the best part is that the course is designed so that the writing that you do in the next 12 months will carry on earning you money for years.

So download The 12 Month Writing Challenge now.

About The Author: Ruth Barringham is a freelance writer and online marketer and has been writing professionally since 1999. She started her own publishing company in 2007 where she publishes all her books and ebooks. She also has an inspirational website for writers at Writeaholics.net.

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Thank you to Ruth for an inspiring and thought-provoking article. I agree with all the points she makes, although I must admit I have never tried writing job descriptions for the different "hats" I have to wear during the course of a working week. Probably I should!

I particularly agree with the advice about outsourcing, though. In my experience freelances don't do this nearly enough, and some have an almost pathological aversion to spending any money at all on their writing business.

I think this is misguided. Time is money, and if writing is what you do best, it often makes sense to outsource other necessary tasks to people who have the relevant skills, leaving you more time to focus on your own core skill of writing.

If you have any comments or questions about Ruth's article, as always, please feel free to post them below.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Ruth Barringham said...

Thanks for sharing my article, Nick.

And you are absolutely spot on with your comment about writers not being willing to spend money to outsource jobs that others can do in a fraction of the time it takes them, or buy courses/ebooks/software that they need, which leaves more time for writing.

I couldn't work as much as I do without the right people and products that I need (and depend on).

My writing is my business so I always like to treat it as one.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Thank you, Ruth. Absolutely!

9:38 AM  
Blogger Tassel Daley said...

Thanks for sharing this.

2:20 AM  

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