Friday, May 24, 2013

Writing for a Paycheck by Dede Perkins

You've written your novel, and either it's hiding in a drawer or hopefully, it's making the query rounds. The trouble is, your novel isn't earning you money - yet. So what can you do if you need to earn money while you wait for your novel's royalties to roll in? In between writing your next novel, you can write for the corporate and/or non-profit world.

I hear you groan, but as a paid business writer and an as-of-yet unpaid fiction writer, I can tell you, it's nice when a client thanks me for my work and as part of the deal, hands over a not-too-shabby check as payment.

The good news is this is a terrific time to be a business writer. In the age of information, every business and non-profit needs a website, social media profile, advertisement or old-fashioned printed brochure. And most need writers to produce the copy for them.

So, from one writer to another, here are 4 strategies that will jumpstart your paid writing career.

#1. Research work that's being done in a couple of industries that interest you. Read websites, white papers, ad copy, articles, and write a couple of your own. Use them as writing samples and give them to anyone who is interested.

#2. Figure out your market and start with an unpaid first assignment. For instance, if you'd like to write for the non-profit world, call a couple of the smaller organizations in your area, say you're a new writer who wants to write for their industry and offer to write an ad, a brochure, a tag line, a page of website content - whatever they need - for free, no strings attached. Once people see you can write, the projects and paychecks will follow.

#3. Tell everyone you know that you're taking on clients for business writing projects. If they send someone your way, be sure to thank them and then do your very best work.

#4. When that first "real" client calls, don't be shy. Ask everything you need to understand the message you are being hired to write. Tell the client you will send copy in about a week. Write the first draft and as you would with a piece of fiction, set it aside for a day or two. Reread and revise. Repeat the process until you are 100% satisfied with the piece. Send it to the client and be open to feedback and revision requests. Rework the piece until the client is 100% satisfied.

Business writing may not be the stuff of your dreams, but getting paid for writing is better than getting paid for doing almost anything else. And if all goes well, your novel will be wildly successful and soon you'll be able to devote your creative energies to more interesting pursuits - like writing your next wildly successful novel.

Dede Perkins, business writer by day and fiction writer by night, owns A Few Good Words, an outsourced business writing company based in Maine.


Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for this helpful article, Dede.

Jenny Watson said...

Great post Dede! Another place business writers can look for work is writing ghost blog posts and social media updates. I recently picked up an assignment that has me writing Facebook posts, LinkedIn updates, Tweets and blogposts for a big corporation. It's been helpful for my fiction writing too, because it really makes me think about every word and the different ways I can get my ideas across. That means it's not just a paycheck, but also a way to practise my writing craft - bonus!

Leanne Dyck said...

Good point, Jenny. And a creative way to sharpen your writing skills while earning a paycheck.

Dede Perkins said...

Thank you, Jenny. You are totally correct - blog posts and social media updates are a terrific way to hone writing skills while earning extra many people want active social pages but have no ideas or time to make that happen.