Face it, not all who enjoy the pleasure of listening to one’s muses and putting pen to paper can devote endless hours to the task of writing. Ironically, that which feeds the beast isn’t always able to put food on the table.
It’s that line of thinking, where the ‘side hustle’ might be just the ticket to move your literary career along to its next juncture.
Expert Has a Nice Ring to It . . .
A side hustle is an alternate means of earning a living that subsidizes your ultimate goals. If balanced properly, it could allow you the flexibility to continue with your passion for writing. It’s an intermediary step where you can benefit from your experience in certain areas – areas where you consider yourself an expert. This could be financial planning, management, marketing, healthcare or any other field of endeavor where you have shown proficiency.
Previous work experience can serve to set the gears in motion and allow you to go from ground zero to a full start towards the profession you most desire. True, it might not help write the next great American novel, but writing about what you know best could afford you some decent side income, in advance of that possibility.
Start as a Freelancer . . .
While a side hustle as a freelance writer can be a tough row to hoe, it does give you the opportunity to potentially earn some money while honing your craft. As a freelancer, you can add accomplishments to your resume with each new writing assignment. As your performance record grows, it helps twofold, by building your self confidence while convincing others that your creative output has merit.
Consider Doing It Pro Bono . . .
If you have no track record writing for a publication, writing pro bono might be a way to kickstart the process. Online news sites, like the Pulitzer Prize-winning Huffington Post, might be an avenue to explore, particularly since they have the traffic. If you’re going to write for gratis, better it be for a site where a good number of readers will see your work.
Award-winning humorist Maggie Van Ostrand is known for using her dog as her muse. In so doing, she believes that the Huffington Post gave her the opening she needed: “Exposure on HP helped when I added it to my bios and submissions for other publications to see.”
Pro bono work can also be used to promote your other work. For instance, if you’ve already uploaded a book or two to Kindle or Smashwords but they aren't receiving that much attention, exposure on a publication like the Huffington Post may assist you in reaching wider audiences while building credibility.
Author and blogger Elaine Ambrose notes how this dynamic worked for her: “Each post contains photos of two of my books and a link to how they can be purchased. I see my sales increase every time I have a popular post. My viral post was reprinted in several languages and attracted book buyers from other countries.”
Others will say, writing for free diminishes the amount of time you can devote to your own writing. If you’re going to work for free, isn’t it better to work on your own projects? The answer to that question obviously comes down to your priorities. If you need the exposure and publicity, writing for free makes a lot of sense. If not, better to use those precious unpaid hours to complete your next book quicker.
For those interested, the Huffington Post's unpaid and paid writing gigs—such as editors, multimedia producer and marketing directors—are updated regularly in their job listings here.
Giving Up Your Day Job for Blogging . . .
There are numerous opportunities online for freelance blogging jobs that may allow you to either work part-time, or leave your full-time job all together. Shifting your focus from jobs extraneous to publishing to those more closely aligned, can be just the type of motivation you need to reinforce your passion for writing.
Here are a number of reasons for considering taking that fork in the road:
- You don’t have to leave home – with telecommuting, you can eliminate the time and cost of physically commuting to and from a job.
- You can work as much, or as little, as you like—you are in charge of your own schedule.
- There are no barriers to entry—no specific credentials are needed, except a knowledge on the topics that interest you or where you consider yourself an expert
- Since you become your own small business, and this is no longer a job per se, there are expenses you are allowed to write-off at tax time.
- And above all, it’s simpatico, as it meshes better with your personal and professional writing goals.
Books About the Side-Hustle for Writers
There are a number of books written on the topic for aspiring writers, which will help you acclimate to the idea of a side hustle.
In the ‘Freelance Blog Writer Side Hustle' by Kevin Mercadante, he notes, “As a freelance blog writer, your business can fit in with nearly any schedule and nearly any career—you don’t need to quit your day job! Nearly anyone with a little bit of spare time, a need for extra money and a desire to do something…different…can have a business as a freelance blog writer.”
‘Side Hustle Blueprint: How to Make an Extra $1000 Per Month Writing eBooks!’ by Lise Cartwright is said to have been written for “time-poor entrepreneurs, authorpreneurs and new freelancers looking for actionable information to help them move forward.”
Her book is an excellent resource for writers who are just learning the ins-and-outs of self-publishing an eBook. Like a roadmap, at end of each chapter, she provides a checklist of what you learned and what needs to be accomplished before moving onto the next set of tasks.
Promote Your Side Hustle Socially
Social Networks should be used for self-promotion. While that might sound contradictory for those who believe only in the ‘social engagement’ dynamic of social networking, there is no shame in promoting your own work with the aid of social media. In fact, if you have built a sizable following on platforms like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, folks who know you are, more often than not, your best advocates. But they can’t know what you are currently doing, if you don’t tell them. And what better way to broadcast widely to a large group of people, than with one click of a button?
Additionally, everyone in your network should be made aware you’re available for freelance projects. Why? Because in addition to their advocacy, they may be able to help you find future writing gig opportunities.
You can also use social media to locate and follow publishers, editors and fellow writers to gain their attention — and to follow up with them when they are in the market for people like yourself.
Freelance Gig Sites
There are many online sites that can get you started in the freelance world. Consider sites like Freelance Writing Gigs, Elance, Guru. Some are free job ad listings only, while others are proposal sites for you to bid on projects. If you think you might be interested in media projects, Mediabistro offers a freelance marketplace at a monthly subscription of $21, or $145 a year. The tried-and-true job site, Craigslist can also secure you a freelance writing job. Their “Gigs” section can also yield another day job, if you are so inclined.
The Side Hustle Does Gather Moss . . .
I don’t agree with the old proverb, “a rolling stone gathers no moss,” based on the idea that if you’re in constant motion, you're being irresponsible and are incapable of establishing roots. On the contrary, I see the side hustle triggering creativity and fresh ideas when indeed, you are consistently moving. Better still, you won’t fall prey to the self-pity that often comes with stagnation. When you keep rolling, you hone your craft and gain a certain patina of polish.
The side hustle means exactly what it says. It’s your chance to keep momentum alive on the side, before you achieve your bigger dreams. The ‘hustle’ part is a constant reminder that when seeking work of this type, you have to remain proactive. There is literally no sleeping on the job. And while it takes some legwork which can at times be arduous, the trick is never to let up on the pursuit.
Once you've found a few clients and networked with some good folks in the industry, you’ll find that securing additional work gets easier and easier over time. So, suit up and start hustling on the side at the earliest opportunity. It will get you closer and closer to your final goals before you know it.
Readers & Writers: I look forward to your feedback, comments and critiques, and please use BookWorks.com as your resource to learn more about preparing, publishing and promoting self-published books. My blogs appear bi-weekly on the 1st and 3rd Fridays of each month.
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