Writing as a Business
Remember, you’re not just a writer; you’re an entrepreneur. Treat your writing like a business. Your words are your products and clients must pay in order to receive those products. It makes it much easier for you to take yourself seriously and to project a professional image.
- Lori Widmer (via The Golden Pencil)
A couple weeks ago I took a free course on Becoming Self Employed offered by the UK’s HM Revenue & Customs. Although I always knew that I should treat writing as my business, I never really knew what that meant until taking the course.
I suspect I’m not the only freelance writer out there who takes business sense for granted. Most of us are so focussed on getting published that we forget about the business altogether. This is a mistake – learning to run a business is extremely valuable for freelance writers, and it’s one of the few things that make the pros stand out from the wannabes. It’s also the only way to keep track of your income, save on taxes and stay organized.
So where can you begin learning about business?
Take a course
I highly recommend signing up for a course or workshop that covers business basics. You could pay for a college or university course, but don’t neglect the wealth of free stuff out there.
In the UK, HM Revenue & Customs offers several free workshops, including Becoming Self Employed, and Self Assessment (Tax Return) for Self-Employed People.
In the US, the Small Business Administration offers free online business courses, including a Small Business Primer, Developing a Business Plan, and Marketing 101.
Read all about it
There are loads of blogs out there that regularly feature articles about the business side of freelance writing. Here are just a few.
- Men with Pens have a slew of Better Business articles including their latest Open Debate: The True Costs of Starting a Freelance Business.
- Freelance Switch is full of great advice, such as 5 Tips for Marketing Your Freelance Writing Business.
- The Writing Journey has a whole series of posts on How To Start Your Freelance Writing Business.
- Laurie has 10 Ways to Treat Freelance Writing Like a Business, including keep an accurate list of submissions and keep track of your expenses.
- Freelance Writing Success has another 10 Ways to Make a 6-Figure Income as a Freelance Writer which covers revenue goals, time management, outsourcing and royalties.
Talk to people
And I don’t just mean freelance writers – get in touch with other entrepreneurs. I find that talking to other small business owners actually energizes me to be more business savvy.
There are plenty of online business forums full of people giving out free advice and support on marketing, accounting, PR, and anything having to do with running a successful business. I participate in the A1 Business Forums and ukbusinessforums, both of which have been great resources for advice and conversation.
And of course, never forget the value of talking to someone face to face. My friend Rory told me about something called The Tuttle Club here in London, a “loose association of people finding a way of working better together both online and off”. There are loads of clubs like this all over the place. Search Google or check on craigslist. And if you can’t find one, start your own, just like George is doing in Wasilla, Alaska.
Do you have business sense?
How did you learn? Where did you start? What have I missed? Leave your tips in the comments.