Friday, October 17, 2008

How Can Writers Survive the Global Economic Crisis?

by Nick Daws



The world seems to be in a topsy-turvy state right now, with banks folding left, right and center, or else being propped up awkwardly by national governments.

The knock-on effects of the 'credit crunch' are hard to predict, but one thing that's for sure is that sadly many more jobs are going to be lost in the coming months.

I'm no economist, but I'd like to offer my two cents worth here on how writers can best survive and even prosper in these difficult times. In particular, I'd like to offer two pieces of practical advice...

The first is to diversify. In times of recession (which is where the world seems to be headed right now) no business is safe. And in the publishing world, many are already feeling the pinch as people cut back on 'luxuries' such as books.

So it must make sense to have a variety of sources of income. If books are your main writing interest, then, consider trying your hand at articles and short stories as well. Conversely, if you're mainly an article writer, why not look at other options as well, e.g. writing an e-book and selling it on the Internet?

In my view, every writer should have a broad portfolio of projects. This might, for example, include books, articles, short stories, Internet writing, comedy writing, TV scriptwriting, advertising copywriting, and so on. That way, if a particular market vanishes or a regular client goes to the wall, you still have plenty of other irons in the fire.

And, of course, there is no reason why you can't have some non-writing-related sidelines as well. When I started out as a full-time freelance writer, many moons ago, I also sold copyright-free artwork packs by mail order. That business eventually died as electronic clip-art became the norm, but in my early days I was very grateful for the extra income it generated. Nowadays, the Internet offers lots of potential sideline-earning opportunities -- just check out some of the 'home-based business' articles on EzineArticles.com, for example.

Moving on, my second piece of advice is to invest in the best and safest repository available -- yourself!

In uncertain times, you need to build up your palette of skills, to increase your employability (if you're seeking a job) or offer a wider range of services (if you work for yourself). Learning new skills can also provide a means for earning extra cash in its own right.

So it's important to invest some time -- and, yes, money as well -- in developing your skills. A writer seeking to diversify might want to build (or improve) their skills in other areas of writing, such as comedy writing, self-publishing, TV or movie scriptwriting, copywriting, travel writing, and so on.

It's also worth developing skills in related areas, e.g. HTML and website design. These days I do a lot of work writing content for company websites. While I'm never going to be an expert web designer, I know enough HTML to insert formatting codes, repair broken hyperlinks, and so on. Allying this with my writing skills has helped to generate a lot of extra work for me. There are courses you can take at many local colleges, or by distance learning, or online. One free resource for learning HTML I recommend is PageTutor at http://www.pagetutor.com

But whatever method you choose, the returns from this 'investing in yourself' can be far greater than any stock market investment, and far less risky. I believe the twin methods of diversifying and investing in yourself should be at the heart of every writer's strategy for surviving the current economic crisis.

Nick Daws is a full-time, UK-based freelance writer. As well as over 80 non-fiction books, he is the author of the top-selling courses Write Any Book in Under 28 Days and Quick Cash Writing. Visit his freelance writing blog at http://www.mywritingblog.com

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