Playing The Long Game

It takes time to earn a decent income with your writing

Photo by Tyler Milligan on Unsplash

Patience is not my strong suit

I’ve been a successful entrepreneur for 12 years.

It’s only the past eight months that I’ve been focusing primarily on my writing and trying to earn a living through my articles.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: patience is not my strong suit.

I was discussing financials with my spouse and making fun of my own excitement about surpassing $200 in earnings on Medium this month.

Then I realized: it took nearly two years for my start-up to become truly profitable and for me to start earning a decent monthly income through self-employment.

It takes 18–24 months for new businesses to become profitable, and approximately two to three years for new entrepreneurs to start making a comfortable living — of course, comfortable is a subjective concept, and profit margins will also depend on start-up costs.

Luckily with writing there are few start-up costs, but it’s even harder to make a living as a freelancer. According to writing beginner, it takes 2–4 years for a blogger to make a full-time living from writing.

Keeping that in perspective, if my growth curve continues the way it is, I’ll right on track (…we’ll see).

Keys to success

I may be new to the writing game, but as I mentioned, I’ve been a successful entrepreneur for over a decade. I have learned a few things along the way that may help others who are starting out on this journey.

Having been named a top writer in the Parenting and Mental Health categories, and earned more than 1.5K followers and 52K reads in my short time here, I have a few ideas to share.

Track your earnings

Keep your own data, figure out how much you’re earning day-to-day, and how much your earnings are increasing month-to-month. Find out what is working best, which articles are performing best, and use that information to guide your future work.

I also like using the Medium enhanced stats plugin for some more detailed information, but I find the information provided there is more for interest and motivation, rather than for hard data.

Screen shot provided by author

Tracking your earnings is absolutely necessary if your goal is to earn a decent income from your writing. You’ll want to figure out where your greatest financial gains are coming from and put more effort into those resources, rather than putting time and energy into something that isn’t paying off.

Set goals

Once you’ve been tracking your earnings for a while and can calculate your estimated growth trajectory, set realistic monthly goals for what you hope to earn, and work towards them.

This will help you keep your eye on the prize, and allow you to evaluate whether you’re meeting your targets, how, and why (or why not).

Set writing goals. As you know, the more you write, the more you earn — but please, please do not sacrifice quality for quantity. Just as we need to be patient when getting our writing off the ground, the same goes for individual pieces.

The click-bait, short, hastily-written stories may take off quickly, but they usually crash quickly too. The stories with more effort put into researching, writing, and editing may take longer to get picked up, but quality pieces continue earning for longer too.

You really do need to practice your craft in order to grow and improve as a writer, so try to write every single day, even if you don’t publish every day. When you get stuck, look up writing prompts, and read for inspiration.

Overcoming writer’s block

If you pressure yourself to publish every day, you may end up publishing mediocre content, or find yourself write-blocked because you’re trying too hard to produce rather than create.

Write about that which you’re knowledgeable and enthusiastic, your writing will be better for it, and readers will catch on to your passion.

If you have a general idea of the subject matter you wish to cover, but are searching for a more specific topic, try searching Google Trends.

Screen shot from Google trends — (image created by author)

Read a lot

Whenever I’m feeling stuck, I pick up one of the non-fiction books I’m working through for research, and it’s not long before I’m tossing the book aside and picking up my laptop to make some notes… which brings me to my next tip.

Take notes

When you’re reading, keep a notepad, notebook, or tablet nearby. When something triggers an idea in your mind, write it down (always be sure to credit the author if you quote their work).

Focus on quality

Speaking of quality over quantity, don’t waste time googling things like “how to get the most followers on Medium”, or begging for followers on social media. It’s a good idea to interact with other writers, to connect your social media accounts, and to share your writing in various places.

However, your time is best spent improving the quality of your writing, rather than expecting people to follow you simply because you asked. If your writing is good and it is something people are interested in, the followers will come.

The platform is already here, the readers are already here, your job is to provide content worth reading.

Happy writing and happy new year!

© Jillian Enright, ADHD 2e MB

When you join medium, as a member you’ll have access to unlimited reads for only $5 per month. If you use my referral link, I’ll earn a small commission, and you’ll earn my undying gratitude.

Published by Neurodiversity MB

Jillian has Child and Youth Work diploma as well as a BA in Psychology. Jillian worked on the front lines of Social Services agencies from 2003 - 2012. Jillian has taken numerous continuing education courses and has attended various workshops focused on supporting neurodiverse children, in particular children with ADHD.

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