The Cost of Being a Writer

You are the only one who knows what being a writer means to you.

You are the only one who knows whether you consider it to be a career, or a pleasant hobby.

And therefore, you are the only one who can judge how much you are willing to invest in your writing business.

In this article, we're going to talk about cost in financial terms. Not the cost in time; not the cost in sleep; not the cost emotionally. We're just talking dollars and cents. And we're not going to discuss the cost of a writer's tools (computer, internet access, printer, software), because that has been dealt with in another article. This time, it's all about building your knowledge and expertise.

First, decide whether being a writer is, for you, a career or a hobby. Is it a business or a pleasant way of whiling away your time? If writing is just a hobby, and that's all it's ever going to be, this article is not for you. You can choose to invest money in a hobby, or not. You can pick it up and put it down. This article is for those who are serious about their writing and want to build a business, brick by brick.

1. Setting a Budget

OK. We've established that you are in BUSINESS. That means that you are prepared to invest money as well as time. If you are time-rich and cash-poor, then you can go the long way round and it will cost you less. If you are time-poor and have funds at your disposal, you can cut the learning curve by buying books, enrolling in courses, subscribing to industry magazines and attending seminars. If you are rich in both time and funds, then you're luckier than most.

Look at your income and savings and decide how much you are prepared to invest in your writing business over the course of 12 months. $500? $1,000? $2,000? $5,000?

Let's jump in and look at the biggest figure first. $5,000 will buy you a lot of expertise and networking via seminars, writing products and coaching over a year. It might seem like a lot at first - but $5,000 is just $416 a month - $104 a week. Many people pay more than that off a car loan. Many people spend that on a meal out for two once a week. And countless people spend far more than that on clothes.

At the other end of the scale, $500 is less than $10 a week. That's barely noticeable to most of us. Yet you can subscribe to writers magazines and get some quality critiquing of your work for that amount. You can attend a number of one-day or weekend workshops.

If you still are undecided, think about how much money other businesses invest in their start-up operations and ongoing training. Then look around to see what would help you grow MOST as a writer.It's up to you. Once you have decided (a) what you most need to develop your skills and (b) how much you can allocate to your writing business, be firm about sticking to it. Nothing less than an emergency should deflect you from your course.

2. Paying for Your Business Investment

3. Re-invest Early Profits for a Faster Business Growth

Most healthy businesses do this. As you build your skills and start to sell your writing, money will begin to flow in instead of out. It probably won't be much at first - but think about re-investing to *further* develop your skills and expertise.

Here's just one example: I've had several writers contact me, after being to a writers' seminar or conference, to ask about writing an article for the Writing For Success newsletter. They are being smart: parlaying their new-found knowledge into income, by passing on what they've learned to others. You could try this too... and use the payment to buy an e-book on writing, or put it towards a seminar.

What if you write an article but the market doesn't pay? See if you can swap an article for a free subscription to a writers' newsletter or a membership site.

4. At The End of 12 Months, Assess and Refine Your Business Plan

It makes good business sense to track your income and outgo. At the end of 12 months, assess the following:You can, of course, check on your income/outgo/results at the end of 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months as well.

You'll find that a definite plan for investment in your writing business will give you not only a greater sense of control, but a better sense of where your money should be spent for development.

A couple of quick examples:

(c) Marg McAlister

Marg McAlister has published magazine articles, short stories, books for children, ezines, promotional material, sales letters and web content. She has written 5 distance education courses on writing, and her online help for writers is popular all over the world. Sign up for her regular writers' tipsheet at

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