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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Write for reasons other than money? Say whaaaaaaat?

Take a look at the tagline of my blog and you'll see the words, "helping nonfiction freelancers make more money in less time." That's been my primary platform for the last decade, and I now have a stack of books, articles, blog posts, and ebooks on the subject. So the subject of this blog post may come as a surprise, even a shock. 


I do write for reasons other than money. I always have. 


And I'm not alone. Most freelancers started out writing because they simply loved to write. Most did not envision successful careers as self-employed scribes from the outset. Yet sometimes we freelancers think that writing has to be all about the money, all of the time. That's wrong. Even if you're serious about your writing career, and about being paid for your words, I can give you at least five reasons to write that aren't all about the money:  


1. It's personally satisfying. I know, you can't pay your bills with personal satisfaction. But sometimes you want to write for yourself, not for an editor or for a client. You have something to say, and saying it well--in your unique, inimitable voice--gratifies you in a way that a check may not. (Although checks are always awesome.) That's my major reason for continuing to write fiction--and I'll be announcing a new novel later this month!  


2. It builds your platform. Platform is deserving of its own post, but in short, it's considered your ability to sell a book to readers. Platform is more than your name and reputation--it's your "reach" as well. The more you write, the more readers you have, the more people know who you are (and like, enjoy, or find useful what you write), the bigger your platform becomes. And if you want to be an author (regardless of whether you purse traditional publishers, POD, or ebooks), a platform is essential.  


3. You can make a difference. Words matter. What you write can make a difference in someone's life. I've posted before about publishing essays, and I can tell you that my personal essays provoke more "reader mail" than anything I write other than my novels. Maybe a reader who's never really thought about it will realize that expecting a baby through adoption is just as exciting as expecting a baby through pregnancy, or recognize how painful infertility can be. Or maybe not. I like to feel that my words may make at least one person see the world a little differently.  


4. A little money can turn into more money. One of my first sales as a new freelancer was a 1,000-word piece that I sold to a magazine for a whopping $100. But once it had been published, I resold that story several times,  once for $300 and once for $225. Another essay I originally wrote for just $50 has been reprinted five times, for between $35 and $75 each. Evergreen pieces often have legs and turn into multiple checks. And even small checks add up. 


5. You're just getting started. As a new writer, your goal is to get published, and get paid (at least eventually) for your work. Who cares if your first stories are for tiny checks? I wrote feature-length articles for as little as $25 or $35 for the local newspaper, but I was learning the ropes, improving my interviewing and writing skills, and slowly progressing toward my first goal of making $10,000 that year. 


So don't beat yourself up if you write for (gasp!) reasons other than purely financial. I do too.  Remember that every article, every clip, every check--no matter how small--helps you build a successful freelance career. 


***My new line of ebooks, all branded with the Dollars and Deadlines name, are geared toward new freelancers. I take the same approach with them that I do with this blog--I give practical, proven strategies and plenty of examples to help you achieve your writing goals. So far the most popular has been Dollars and Deadlines' Guide to Selling your First Article, but Dollars and Deadlines 10 Essential Freelance Templates is also selling well. Please check them out, and recommend them to your would-be-freelancing friends.