There are two main categories of people who are writing for money online. First, the people who started their writing career in order to earn an income. Whether you wanted to just earn a little extra spending cash each month, or you hoped to make a living with your writing, money has always been a part of the equation. The second category of writer is those who started off writing because they love it. While writing may have been just a hobby you did for fun, at some point you found that you were able to make money with it, and so began your business.
Whichever category of writer you happen to be in, you need to recognize that if you’re making money with your writing, it is a business. Full time, part time, or something in between, you need to make sure to keep in mind that you are an entrepreneur, not just a hobby writer. (That’s a good thing!)
Once you’ve accepted the fact that you’re running a business (either formally or informally) you need to keep some things in mind. The following items will help you to embrace the fact that you’re running a business, and help ensure you are able to get the most out of your business (both financially, and personally).
*Disclaimer – I’m not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV. All the tips and advice I’m giving here are from my personal experience only. If you have any legal questions, please seek the advice of a licensed attorney*
- Pay Your Taxes
Whether you’re making $10 a week or $10,000, you need to keep in mind that you are responsible for paying your taxes. I’m listing this first because it is absolutely essential. If you fail to pay taxes from the beginning, the IRS (or whatever the agency tax agency in your country is called) will eventually come to collect. It is far easier to pay the taxes from the beginning than to have to attempt to get caught up with the past-taxes, plus any penalties you have leveraged against you.
- Start a Small Business
Consider incorporating yourself as a small business, and use that to keep everything organized. This will help you with your taxes, and can offer other benefits as well. If you’re a freelance writer, for example, it may help you to land more clients. Some high-end clients prefer working with another business, because they know they are hiring someone who takes their writing seriously.
- Keep Track of Your Income
Every dime you earn should be tracked. Whether you use a simple spreadsheet or a full accounting software package, it is absolutely essential to know how much money you’re making. In addition to the amounts, make sure to keep track of where the money came from and what writing you did to earn it. This will help with future marketing efforts to get new clients.
- Keep Track of Your Expenses
Just like tracking your income, tracking the expenses of your business is equally essential. Paying for things like web hosting, an internet connection, computer hardware or software, and even the space in your house you use as an office can help in many ways. It may be able to be used to offset taxes, and it can also help you to set your prices when applying for new writing jobs.
- Build a Website
Having your own website is a great way to help market your services. When people ask for samples of your work, you can direct them to your page. Over time, people will start finding your site when they are searching for a writer to hire, and the site can bring in new clients as well. Building a website isn’t nearly as complicated as many people might think (I’ll be creating a step-by-step guide soon!), and is a simple way to be seen as a professional.
- Track Your Marketing Efforts
Whether you’re marketing your services to newspapers, websites, magazines or anywhere else, make sure you are keeping track of your efforts. Every time you apply for a job, write it down. Track details such as where you found the job, whether or not you got hired and any other pertinent information. Over time, this information can be used to help improve your marketing efforts, and get better writing jobs.
- This is a Job
Don’t be afraid to tell people that you write for a living. Even if it is just a part time income (for now) it is something to be proud of. Letting people know you’re a writer may also lead to finding new clients. You never know who is looking for a writer, or who knows someone who is. Consider having business cards made which you can hand out to people who express interest. You can get professional business cards made at Vista Print extremely affordably, and if they bring in even one client, they will quickly pay for themselves.
Think about each of these things, and see which ones you can do to help improve your business. If you are writing online for money, you may as well try to make as much money as possible, and treating your business seriously is the first step toward that goal.
If you have any recommendations on what writers need to do for their business, please share them in the comments below. I’m always looking for new ways to improve my writing business, and I’m sure other readers are as well.