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Recession-Proof Your Writing Business
by Patricia L. Fry

Return to The Business of Writing · Print/Mobile-Friendly Version

Nearly everyone is concerned about the state of the economy and most of us are affected by a downturn. It seems unfair that, at a time when writers have so much to say, publishers are producing fewer books and magazine editors are printing fewer stories.

Business drives magazines. When business revenues wane, workers are laid off and advertising slows. Without advertisers, editors can't afford to pay writers. Within the past several months, five of my favorite magazines have gone under and several others have cut back on the amount of freelance work they're using. One editor, who liked my work, generously assigned me six articles -- one each for the next six issues. When I completed the job, the editor wrote an apologetic letter saying that their advertisers were pulling out and they had to cut back on the number of articles they can use in each issue. Over the last eight months, they've published two of the six with a promise to use the others as space allows.

In times like these, more editors request articles on spec rather than issuing a contract. They don't know what direction their publication will take in the uncertain economy and they don't want to make any promises they can't keep. Consequently, the writer is often left writing for naught.

What's a writer to do in times of economic struggle? The strategy I've used over my 28 years as a freelance writer is to rethink and reorganize my business. My motto is: if things aren't going your way, find another way. Here are some ideas to help keep your writing business afloat even during the hard times:

  • Woo your long-standing clients and editors. Stay in touch with them so they'll think of you when they need something done. Remind them of your skills and make a few suggestions for projects that you might do for them.

  • Write about the things people need to know during times like these: how to live on less, stress reduction, healthy grieving, penny-saver vacations, quick and easy money-making tips, and survival techniques, for example: how to plant a Victory Garden and easy Christmas gifts to make.

  • Subscribe to several online and print writing magazines and newsletters. Many of them list jobs for writers while also keeping you updated on trends in the writing industry.

  • Go outside your comfort zone. Search out new magazines, ezines, web sites and businesses that might need your expertise. Browse magazine racks at bookstores, study the Writer's Market and do web searches.

  • Take on clients. There are always people who want help writing, editing or self-publishing a book or researching their family history. Become their paid mentor.

  • Produce pamphlets to market through appropriate agencies and or/businesses -- for example: recipes for diabetics or heart patients, how to keep the faith when the world seems doomed, or how to garden away arthritis pain.

  • Do something entirely different. Teach writing through a local adult education program, write ads for businesses, typeset manuscripts for clients, conduct research for others, or scour the web looking for those that need help with spelling and grammar and then apply for the job.

  • Write for less. As one writer friend says, "When times are tough, I'm never above any writing assignment no matter how superficial or low-paying. Those little jobs sometimes lead to bigger and better assignments."

  • Solicit businesses and publications that are thriving in this economy. Right now, greeting card sales are up. People are eating more sweets and other comfort foods. American flags are a booming business.

  • Write speeches. CEOs and association leaders often hire speech writers. If you have a knack for speechwriting, read the local calendar of events in the newspaper to find out who is speaking and where. Attend speeches and presentations. Join or visit organizations and get involved at the district and state level where you'll meet men and women who hire speechwriters.

  • Advertise your services. Build a web site or join a relevant organization where you can get web site space and get recognition for your work. Send out brochures to local businesses or a targeted mailing list.

  • Ensure greater success during difficult times by establishing and maintaining a good reputation all the time.

Find Out More...

One Dozen Unique Ways to Make More Money, by Patricia Fry

Boost Your Bottom Line: Ten Ideas to Help You Work Smarter and Increase Your Writing Income, by Mridu Khullar

Writing in a Recession, by Dawn Copeman

Copyright © 2002 Patricia L. Fry
This article may not be reprinted without the author's written permission.

Patricia L. Fry has been writing for publication for over 30 years, having contributed hundreds of articles to about 250 different magazines and e-zines. She is the author of 25 books including A Writer's Guide to Magazine Articles for Book Promotion and Profit and The Right Way to Write, Publish and Sell Your Book (Matilija Press). For more inspiration, information and resources from Patricia Fry, follow her blog at http://www.matilijapress.com/publishingblog/.


Copyright © 2018 by Moira Allen. All rights reserved.
All materials on this site are the property of their authors and may not be reprinted
without the author's written permission, unless otherwise indicated.
For more information please contact Moira Allen, Editor

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