"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
As featured on: Pro Blogger, Men With Pens, Write to Done, Tiny Buddha, LifeHack, Technorati, Date My Pet, South 85 Literary Journal and other award-winning sites.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

10 Things I wish I Would Have Known About Writing 10 Years Ago!


It’s a Monday.
And like most good days, it starts out with chocolate.
Weatherwise, we’re recovering from days of violent storms and unseasonal weather in the Midwest.
And I’m counting my blessings to be working from home.

There’s no doubt about it: the life of a freelancer is a sweet one.
What other gig allows flexible hours, bunny slippers, bad hair days, and comfy lounge wear on the regular? Hello!

But there are also obstacles, ugly stuff, and things I really wish I had been aware of on the path to success. Not that it would have caused me to bail at the nearest exit ramp, or join the nearest circus--- but rather, there would have been fewer bumps and detours along the way. And possibly bigger paydays (I'd like to believe) .

I say this as I reflect and attempt to recover from the loss of one of my favorite client sites, that changed ownership, and ultimately will have to be replaced as a revenue source, due to different work dynamics. Not to mention, I‘m just bouncing back from a bad computer bug that wiped out nearly all my files.

Like a super hero, I’m juggling, brainstorming, blogging, making miracles happen with limited resources, and a host of other things in an effort to keep my head above water and stay in the black. And if you’re living this lifestyle, it’s likely you are too.

Here are a few things I’ve learned amidst the madness, through trial and error.
“Insider’s tips” I’d like to share to save you time, money, and mania, and take your career to the next level.

Here they are in no particular order:

1. Writing for free can be profitable. Some seasoned scribes turn their noses up at the prospect of no pay projects. But “pay” doesn’t always have to be immediate or monetary. Some of my best connections, recommendations, and profitable collaborations started out without pay. But balance is required, so choose wisely.


2. Save for that rainy day. It’s more than a cliché, it’s a cardinal rule! Nothing can inhibit your muse like wondering where your next meal will come from, or stressing out over a missed mortgage payment. Even if it’s a little at a time, start saving stat!


3. Writing is both glamour and grit. The beauty of a byline never gets old, but going the distance takes a lot of hard work, perseverance and door knocking.

4. All writing gigs are not considered equal. Print typically pays better than online, articles typically yield a bigger pay day than blog posts, corporate clients often pay more than personal clients. Though there are exceptions. Know what the market dictates.

5. Even with a written contract, it’s possible to get shafted. Always read the fine print.

6. Few people will get rich by blogging. But it can be immensely rewarding.

7. Always have a plan “B”.

8. Not every one is qualified to offer sound advice about a writing career.

9. Diversify! Diversify! Diversify!

10. Family very likely won’t understand your career. Don’t sweat it or be swayed by it.


And in the words of a popular hit song, "back that thang up!"

Make sure to protect your intellectual property by backing up your files and having an effective anti-virus program in place. It's so worth the investment.



How about you? What lessons do you wish you'd learned earlier. Do tell...

Image Suat Eman

17 comments:

  1. Jen,
    Brilliant post - as usual.
    I can't pick a favorite tip - they are all relevant. I'll "amen" the first tip though. Writing for free is how I started out. I'm thankful for the experiences, contacts, and friends I made along the way. Each job helped me to become a better writer and definitely lead to my current position.
    I don't write free as much I would like to anymore - my regular columns keep me busy. However, when time allows, my free jobs go to local charities.

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. Hi Jennifer, You were missed. Thank you for the tips. Backing everything up is a must and it cost so little to do it.

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  4. Sorry for the earlier glitch.
    Jen,
    Brilliant post - as usual.
    I can't pick a favorite tip - they are all relevant. I'll "amen" the first tip though. Writing free is how I started out. I'm thankful for the experiences, contacts, and friends I made along the way. Each job helped me become a better writer and definitely led to my current position.
    I don't write free as much I would like to anymore - my regular columns keep me busy. However, when time allows, my free jobs go to local charities.

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  5. Jennifer Brown BanksApril 17, 2011 at 6:27 AM

    Hi Barb,

    How very sweet of you to say! I missed you guys too. I'm blessed to have members like you as part of my "community."

    Yep, backing up is a must. I learned the hard way. :-)

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  6. Jennifer Brown BanksApril 17, 2011 at 6:30 AM

    Hi Andrea,

    Glad to see you on the scene. I look forward to your blog posts at your site--love the title.

    Don't be a stranger. :-)

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  7. It's amazing what we'll do for our passion and our art!

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  8. Jennifer Brown BanksApril 17, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    Hi Wendy,

    You betcha! As a matter of fact, that can be a blog topic itself. :-) Good to hear from you.

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  9. Andrea,

    My bad. I found the culprit. Thanks for your repeated efforts. Your comments were held hostage by my "spam folder" and I just found them. :-)

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  10. Hi Jen! I love this! And I feel guilty for being such a broke blog host. :) But if it helps, your article got a ton of great feedback on my blog. I have sort of lost time on writing lately but miss it. Now that things will be slowing down a bit in other areas of my life, I will have more time to devote to it again! Hope you're well, friend!

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  11. Jennifer Brown BanksApril 17, 2011 at 7:36 PM

    Hi Bryan,

    Great to get your perspective and positive feedback. Look forward to reading some of your enlightening, thought-provoking posts soon.

    To God be the glory; I am well! Thanks, friend. :-)

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  12. Great to see you back! My Monday has included chocolate too. :) Love these insider tips. Good stuff!

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  13. Jennifer Brown BanksApril 18, 2011 at 11:03 AM

    Hi Karen,

    Great to be back in the thick of it! :-)Happy to connect with you as always. Glad U enjoyed the tips.

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  14. thank you for the post, great tips
    keep it up Jennifer

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  15. Jennifer Brown BanksApril 23, 2011 at 5:15 AM

    farouk,

    Welcome! I appreciate your time and input. Thanks for stopping by and adding to the dialog.

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  16. I wish I had known that writing was my gift, passion and purpose. I would have left corporate America a long time ago!!

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  17. Marcie,

    ...Just curious. What confirmation made you sure of this?

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