Generally, writing isn’t something you start by drawing up a business plan. Chances are you’ve already been writing. You’ve found a form that you enjoy. You’ve experimented with some things that didn’t work out. You’ve thought about some other things that you haven’t yet touched. You’re not starting from scratch.
So, take a look at your workload. What projects have you done? What projects are you doing? What projects would you like do? Think about where these activities might lead.
For example, I’ve been chipping away at this freelancing thing for awhile now. I know I don’t like writing resumes or copy. To be more accurate, I don’t like spending most of my work time trying to get clients, only to have 1/5 of my clients not pay me in full or not pay me at all. There’s not enough love to compensate for the not enough money. On the other hand, I do like writing articles. I’ve written and published a small selection of articles for a variety of magazines. I have ideas and interests and skills that will work for an even larger variety of magazines. Some of these areas can pay very well—but not at my current level of exposure. Others pay reasonably well at my current level, but they are markets I haven’t penetrated yet. I have a small platform that can be strengthened and enlarged. I can use my platform to build a readership for my autism-related work. I can also use my platform to break into some new markets that will compensate me well enough to stop working the resume and copywriting angle.
You see, the money is a big issue for me. It’s not that I’m greedy, but I do have a family to support and my writing is how I do that. Parenting articles, as much as I love writing them, aren’t enough. At $50 an article, I would need to produce more than 30 articles a month. That’s a lot of work and would take away too much time from other pursuits. Especially since I not only have to write the article, but I have to write the queries that get me the assignments to write the articles—and sometimes the answer is going to be no. Sure, some parenting publications pay more than that, but it’s still not the right track for me.
I have a business degree. I enjoy writing about business. I especially enjoy helping small-business owners become more profitable business owners, which is why I got into the specific niche of copywriting that I did. But I don’t want to rely on business clients. That leads me to trade publications. I can earn $250 per article, and write only 6 articles per month. That’s much better.
But, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. If I can get what I need with only 6 assignments, then that will leave time for parenting articles and entering other markets and still leave time for my book work.
This is one way to look forward and see where it will get you. Don’t think only about what you’ve done, but consider what you could do. Do the math. Explore different genres, different markets, and different areas of expertise. What do you need to help you achieve your goals? How many goals can you achieve doing one thing?
This approach is kind of like weaving a web. You have certain goals you want the web to catch and you have many threads working together to catch as many of the goals as possible. One thread that is going to be common throughout your efforts is building a network. Who your network should include is going to depend a great deal on what you’re trying to accomplish, but having networking as a thread—or several threads—in your web will help you to figure out what kind of goals your web will capture. Weave the threads of what you know, what you can do, and what you can learn together and see what you get. I bet you can capture a lot of worthwhile goals by building a net around your current strengths, and you’ll even find some threads that you want to expand and strengthen—improving your craft and skill in the process.