Monday, August 04, 2014

This Writing Life 3: Making a Living

Every now and then I sit back in my kitchen chair, look around with surprise and wonder how I got this lucky.

Because I am, make no mistake about it. Hard work is no guarantee for success. If it were, there’d be a lot more successful people in this world.  I worked hard but I also got lucky, and I am aware of that every day.

That said, I did some things along the way.

My Foundation
I would love to say that my whole life I wanted to be a writer and focused all my energy toward it, but that isn’t true.

I wanted to be a fighter pilot!

My eyesight went when I was eight. So much for that. The rest of the things I did you can read about in this post.

So rather than starting with a solid “writer’s” foundation, I built mine piecemeal, on the job, learning how as I went. The classes I took to build my day-job credentials, from marketing to project management, also helped.  So did writing continuously and listening to my editors.

Especially listening to my editors. For God’s sake listen to your editors!

That’s how I built my foundation: piece by slow piece. And if you’re a young writer, contemplating making a career out of this, I have two bits of advice:

One: It may take a while.

Two: For God’s sake, don’t do it my way. My way sucked. Get an English degree, find job that keeps you in beer and skittles, and write.

I was going to wax eloquent here, but it’s easier just to attach my résumé and sounds less like bragging. Here it is.

Where the Money Comes From
I make most of my money ghostwriting through Elance, which I recommend. Their system ensures that you get paid for the work you do (so do Odesk and Guru, and I’m on them as well) and allows you to rate clients as well as have them rate you. You do good work, you get good ratings, you get more work. It’s a lovely circle.

Like all online job sources, elance is a user-beware kind of place. Some people will contact you through elance and then try to hire you outside of it. Don’t do it. Unless the person is in your town, you’ve met them, and they’re willing to pay you in advance, it’s way too easy for them to rip you off.

There are also a large number of people who are more than willing to rip you off by offering miniscule amounts for the work that you do. Don’t take those jobs. You’re worth money so get paid for your time.

I also make money working locally, through contacts I’ve developed in my industry and in others. I write scripts, speeches newsletters and whatever else comes my way.

So that’s how I earn my living. Sorry I didn’t have any great secrets to depart, but if you’re willing to pay a ridiculous fee, I’ll be more than willing to make some up. :-)

Next week: Scheduling, because if you can’t do that, you need to find another line of work.

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