Marketing is an umbrella term that covers a great many activities. While there are businesses that specialize in business activities that do not fall under this umbrella, who use marketing as only a small portion of their total business activities, writers are not among those businesses. Properly considered, just about everything a writer does falls under the marketing umbrella.
The actual act of writing isn’t a marketing activity. Technically, it’s a production or a “manufacturing” activity. However, what you choose to write – everything about what you choose to write – does fall under the marketing umbrella. The output of our writing is our products. This is an underserved topic, because most writers don’t choose what they’ll write with a thought to their marketing. Most writers leave marketing as an afterthought – something they think about after the production process is complete. This is one of the reasons why most writers are not professional writers who make a living writing. So, let’s take some time to seriously consider the product side of our writing.
We start by thinking about the various factors that go into what we choose to write:
- What topic will we write about? What genre will we write in?
- What will we provide our readers with: information, entertainment, a persuasive argument, a mix of any of these three?
- What length will we make the piece: a long book, an average book, a short book, a novella or whitepaper, a short story or feature length article, a flash story or short article?
- How will we make our work available to readers: traditional publication, self-publication with a purchase fee, self-publication with a subscription fee, self-publication without a fee but with advertising, self-publication without a fee and without advertising, or an alternative publication approach?
- How will we let readers know the piece is available? Who will we target as our likely readers?
All of these questions are marketing questions and all of these questions are answered before or during the production/writing process. If you’re not answering these questions intentionally, then you’re providing a default, intuitive, or de facto answer through the writing process – an answer that is not determined by and may not be consistent with your marketing strategies.
If we graduate from these initial questions and commit ourselves to answering these questions intentionally as part of our overall business/marketing approach, we find there are additional questions to answer.
We then start thinking about the various factors that go into choosing a product mix:
- How much can you produce in a given timeframe (e.g., a year)?
- How many pieces do you need to produce to satisfy your goals and your readers?
- What lengths should you produce given your production capabilities?
- How much can you afford to invest in your products? Remember to include your time in your calculations.
- How much revenue do you need your products to generate? Remember that you need to generate enough revenue to cover your costs and provide you with the profit you desire.
- How quickly do you need your products to generate revenues? Remember to consider the time frame difference among the various publication methods.
The precise answers to these questions differ for every individual writer, however the majority of us who are trying to make a living writing need a product mix that includes both full-length works (long, average, or short books) and short works (novellas or white papers, short stories or articles) in order to generate the profits we want to see each year.
How we go about making these available to readers depends on our comfort level with various marketing strategies and our revenue requirements. Traditional publication, for example, tends to take longer and has less revenue-generating potential, but it also involves less risk. Self-publication tends to be faster and has more revenue-generating potential, but the writer takes on all or most of the risk. Alternative publication methods provide various combinations of the two.
Have you planned your product mix? Did you base your plans on what you want to write as an artist or what you need to write to meet your goals? Did you know that you can devise solutions and strategies that satisfy both the artist and the business professional?