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Recession-Proof Your Writing Business
by Patricia L. Fry
Return to The Business of Writing ·
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
- 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
- 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/.
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