Treat Your Writing Career Like a Business
I started publishing on Medium in 2015. Over the years, I’ve seen many writers who came here with excitement and energy, to only leave with a broken spirit.
I don’t like seeing that. As a writer, I wish success to every writer who pursues this career for the right reasons. And it’s tough to see that so many of my peers are not treating their writing career as a business.
I see people starting paid newsletters to only quit them after a few months. I see writers creating online courses that make no sense. I see writers who focus on the wrong things.
And I know this because I’ve been there too. But I’ve been lucky to learn from some of the best entrepreneurs in the world. So after struggling to build a career for the first four years after I graduated, I made a change.
I looked at my career as a business. And that has changed everything for me. Here are a few things I learned that will help you to build a successful career as a writer. I hope these things will give you everything you want.
1. Have a strategy
A business can’t waste time and money. So every minute and dollar that a business spends needs to serve one of the following purposes:
- Generate revenue
- Save costs
- Improve productivity
That’s it. And this is exactly the same for your career. Every single thing you do needs to have a clear intention.
For example, why do you want to start a newsletter? How will it generate revenue, save costs, or improve productivity?
Here’s example. Last year, I moved my newsletter to Kajabi from Convertkit. Why? To save costs. I already paid for Kajabi to host my courses. And when they introduced email marketing as a part of their plans, it was an easy decision.
Here’s another example. Two years ago, I hired a personal assistant to improve my productivity. It helps me to focus on growing my career. I can go on and on with examples, but you get the idea.
Your writing career is a business that has customers/readers, and you need to be profitable. Otherwise, it’s an expensive hobby.
2. Focus on your readers above everything else
While you always want to think about the 3 purposes I listed above, you should never forget why you’re in business.
Without customers, you don’t have a business. So everything you do needs to be in the best interest of your readers. Your articles, books, emails, tweets, you name it.
Don’t fall in the trap of writing to impress. Honestly, no one cares. This is a harsh lesson, but the world really doesn’t care about what a great writer you are.
Only your readers and customers care. So you need to care about the ones who care about you — and preferably even more than they care about you.
The way I look at it: You, yes, you, the reader, is the most important to me. Obviously I’m not referring to the jealous writers who are reading this to figure out if I have any secrets. I couldn’t care less about those folks.
I write for my real readers, who I see as my friends. This is an important business lesson that most people don’t get.
If you’re used to having a job, there’s always a difference between your co-workers and your private life. In business, that doesn’t exist. My father is friends with most of his customers.
They speak every week, even if they don’t have any business. They just catch up about everything. Why? People prefer to do business with the ones they actually like.
3. Only do this if you want to do it until you die
As you know, writing is hard. And building a career as a writer is 100X harder.
So if you have the slightest doubts about being a full-time writer for the rest of your life, I recommend pursuing something else. Honestly.
Life is too short to be a struggling writer. It’s the primary reason I created my course about starting a business. Most of us struggle with earning a good living with writing.
We look for advice on Instagram or listen to college kids on Clubhouse. That’s not real life. In fact, 99% of the business advice I read on the internet doesn’t align with what I’ve learned from actually successful business owners.
One of our family friends is extremely wealthy and successful. He’s one of the richest people in The Netherlands. The stuff he talks about is totally different from the nonsense I read online.
He doesn’t take cold shows, never runs ads on social media, and certainly doesn’t say stuff like, “adopt these habits of emotionally confident people.” He creates jobs, buys properties, gives to charity, and even rolls up his sleeves to do the work alongside his team.
He loves everything he does. And that’s why he wants to keep working until he dies. But no one knows who he is publicly. He also doesn’t like me talking about it, so I won’t use his name.
And while I don’t see him as much as I would like, he’s one of my biggest inspirations in life.
I’ve learned that if you pick a career that fits with your strengths, and you’re passionate about it, you can make a big difference in people’s lives. That’s what keeps you going as a writer, but also as a business.
As writers, we need a purpose. And I hope this article inspired you to work on that every day.