Happy National Poetry Month! In honor of National Poetry Month and National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo), I will be blogging regularly about poetry writing. Check out yesterday’s post about NaPoWriMo.
We have a winner in last week’s contest. Barbara from JustAnotherWorkingWriter won a copy of Bylines calendar. Congrats! Barbara, send me an email with your snail mail address, and I will get that calendar out to you!
Today’s tip is part of our Writers @ Work series and is geared for those of you who want to earn an income from your writing. Lora Hyler, CEO of Hyler Communications, teaches us how she developed multiple streams of income and how we can, too!
Freelance Writers: Develop Multiple Revenue Streams
How do you write for a living?
Most full-time writers get this question from friends, family members or associates who are often imagining someone who starts their day at 10 with coffee and donuts, showers and changes out of their pajamas at 2, writes until 5, calls it a day and starts mixing the martinis. Of course, those of us who write for a living, know the formula: market twice as much as you actually write. A year with 1,000 billable hours is a successful year, indeed.
After a successful career as a radio journalist, and corporate communications manager stints at both media and utility companies in Southeastern Wisconsin, 11 years ago, I began my public relations and marketing company. I’ve had the good fortune of working for a variety of industries and writing in nearly every format available. News copy, brochures, annual report, executive speeches, web copy, marketing and advertising collateral, newsletters, news releases, magazine articles, short stories, novels, screenplays…the list goes on.
Writers write. That’s whether a paycheck is attached to it, or not. The good news is all writing is practice and leads to better writing. A highly skilled writer is going to be in demand, leading to steady work, regular referrals and the ability to make a living as a freelance writer.
As an individual who is always raising the bar and seeking out new opportunities, I don’t exactly think of myself as a freelance writer. I am a public relations strategist and marketer who works with the client to best position their company’s product or service in the marketplace, and then executes the vision through a variety of writing assignments. I’ve worked in many industries including beer, energy, medical, consumer products, and youth, among others. Writing takes you on a journey. In the words of the very wise Dr. Seuss, “The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
As you build your business, think about the various type of writing you can do to generate revenue. Try to create a mix that allows you to work regularly, yet also brings the fun. The writing life can be accompanied by many hours of solitude. It’s just you and your keyboard. Insatiable curiosity serves the writer well. But, to survive as a freelance writer, you’ll also need strong organization skills. For prospective clients, you’ll need to provide estimates and an hourly rate before the client will hire you. Be prepared to ‘eat’ a few hours as you get to know a new industry. The tradeoff is once you’re up to speed, you can still bill for a reasonable amount of hours that a freelancer would need to produce a finished product. In essence, you’ll be rewarded financially for your efficiency.
My insatiable curiosity has led to development of multiple payment streams over the years. Consider these as you put together your own list.
- Website development-planning, writing, editing and subcontract out technical development and graphic design
- Brochure development-planning, writing, editing and subcontract out graphic design and layout
- Media outreach campaigns-news releases, media kits, phone calls to reporters, coordination of interviews
- Media skills interview training
- Advertising copy
- Marketing collateral for products/services
- National marketing launch of new consumer electronics product-media, trade show materials, creation of media materials, arranging media interviews.
- Spokesperson for national product. Think QVC home shopping channel, Disney.com, Skymall.com, and media outlets. Consider a contract with a percentage of profits.
- Online Consumer Product Showcase – innovative concept connecting national reporters with new products.
- Public speaking engagements (you can occasionally command an honorarium for your time.)
Just recently, I decided to expand my media talks and training into public speaking to encompass a topic that certainly impacts all women: “Where are the women? Why aren’t there more women in the corporate boardroom and how does that impact the national economy?” I look forward to taking the topic nationally, attracting speaking engagements and PR/marketing clients. My research has already led to a women business conference at Harvard Business School and valuable networking contacts. I’ll soon begin querying magazine editors for writing assignments.
Yes, the writer’s horizon is endless. Consider your imagination to be your only limitation. Dream big.
About the author: Lora Hyler is a communications expert who has worked as a journalist and executive speechwriter, and held manager positions at both media and utility companies. She currently serves as CEO of her 11-year-old PR and marketing company, Hyler Communications. She handles media outreach campaigns, conducts media interview & public skills training, public relations and marketing programs for corporations, non-profit organizations, educational institutions and consumer product inventors. She is the writer of screenplays and novels, and has written hundreds of articles. She appeared weekly for two years on NBC affiliate, Today’s TMJ4’s 3 p.m. newscast as a guest panelist. After brokering a deal with QVC home shopping channel for a client, she appeared live as spokesperson for the consumer electronics product. She is a native of Southeastern Wisconsin, but is busy saving for her own private Caribbean island. Find her online at: www.hylercommunications.com