Writing for profit.
(This is straight talk from my WIP book “Codename: Pitchcraft.”)
At the end of the day, money is always a factor. You can’t write if you can’t eat, and while being a “starving artist” is probably one of the more socially acceptable paths to poverty, it’s not fun having to live hand to mouth. Trust me, I’m well exercised in doing so.
I’ve always been an advocate for pursuing ones artistic inclinations. Do what you love. However, I’ve also been chided by the artistic types for always trying to figure out how to make a profit from doing it. I’ve been accused of trying to get people to “sell out” more times than I can count. My argument against this is simple: people don’t mind paying for good work. If you paint something, you’re not selling out by putting a price tag on it. If you’re a musician, you’re not selling out by trying to market your music. What you’re doing is pursuing the path that takes you from being a hobbyist to a professional: a payday. There is nothing immoral or wrong about seeing the value in your talent and skill.
What’s the other argument I hear the most? “I don’t write/paint/play/draw the kind of stuff people buy and I don’t want to change my style just to make money.”
First off: Bullshit. People will buy anything if it’s good. There are fans for your work, whatever it is…whatever the style. Just take a look at Etsy and see the kind of stuff that people sell. Some of it makes me go “what the hell…people pay $200 for THIS?” But my opinion doesn’t matter. Neither does yours. Not when the guy selling it was able to quit his job to do what he loves for a living.
Secondly: Get over yourself. I can be harsh about this, I know, but I’m an artistic-type myself and I know better than anyone that the thing that we often need is for reality to kick us in the ass. If you can quit your day job by writing what other people want instead of what you want, isn’t that worth it? If you say “no,” then can you really consider yourself a writer? Or are you a waiter/clerk/accountant who writes?
Any work that you do in your field will push your art into greater levels of success. I want to be a professional author, but for now I’m a professional writer. I write ad copy, business letters, marketing strategies, articles, press releases, web content and blog posts every day for money. It’s not what I want to do with my life, but when you boil it down, it is writing. I am continuously honing my craft and my art through “selling out”…and all of the money I’m making goes right into my brokerage account where it can earn a percentage. Some day, I’ll have earned enough from “selling out” that I can stop working for other people and sit on my butt all day writing novels. That’s my artistic vision. It ain’t pretty, but it’s a plan.
There is nothing wrong with having a rich portfolio of professional work. I highly recommend that any artist pursue a bit of income from their talents. Here’s a quick breakdown of how to get started:
Decide if you want to sell your artwork or be a freelancer. Or both. Do you want to make things and then see how much you can get for them, or do you want to do commissioned work?
Find a venue. There are scores of web sites out there which can serve as your storefront or your agency. If you’re selling your artwork (things that you’ve already made, not custom work) then Etsy is a great place to start. You can also try eBay, which is still a very viable place to sell your work. If you want to be a freelancer and do commissioned work or contract jobs, try deviantArt, fiverr, or eLance. Do your research and find out what services will promote your art the most effectively.
* Best for writers that I’ve found: eLance and fiverr.
Promote yourself. This is the marketing part. Want to know all about this? Wait until my complete book is released and read it. Codename: Pitchcraft will be a self-contained marketing course, followed by very specific information on how to find success as an independent artist. I’m even working out deals with some of my fellow marketers that will allow people who buy this book (or course, if you want to call it that) to take advantage of our ever-growing promotional network.
You don’t have to wait for my book, though. Now is the time to take your skills to market and start being a pro. Hit up those websites, make your free account and get selling.