This year I really want to do well in terms of work. Not just grow as a writer and get published (though hey, I want this too) or anything crazy like score a book deal that would mean I could simply write fulltime and be okay (but again, if this happens, who am I to argue?), but actually do better with the business I have built and grown. But that involves a whole bunch of stuff I A) am not any good at, B) really don’t want to do, and C) I don’t know what C is, but I worry if I still do A and B perfectly something will be missing from my formula to do well.
See, I have my own writing/editing business. While my first love and favorite kind of job has to do with book editing and coaching, I also do resumes, write cover letters, website content, professional marketing material, ghostwrite (to an extent), edit/write college/graduate school admissions essays as well as academic editing (no writing though, ethics and all) and online tutoring. So basically I cast a very large net because as a struggling writer, many times I’ll take what I can get.
Up through 2012 I did really well. I was ALWAYS working and had more work than I could handle by myself. I was constantly booked up. Three books that I edited were published and more referrals came in. I was also busy with academic editing, website content writing, a ridiculous amount of marketing write-ups/ads and several resumes to do. Life was good, and I was thriving.
But by early 2013, I was thriving… less so. The primary way I got business was advertising on Craigslist. But then it was taken over by auto-flagging software bots and other non-people, making it impossible to keep an ad up. And while my students would come back, it’s not like most writers whip out a manuscript every year that’s ready to edit. Many work on a book for years before it’s ready for an editor, so while my authors would keep in touch, serve as references, etc. they didn’t have any use for my services until their next book (which could take years, and some never came out with another). But I was still doing okay, more or less, at this point. I wasn’t thriving, but the work was still steady and I wasn’t discouraged.
But 2014, things definitely fell into a slump or sorts for the first part of the year. Craigslist had not been a viable option for several months and I didn’t know where else to advertise that was both free and effective. The second half of the year I was busy, but that was only because two authors I had already worked with had new manuscripts to give me, on top of my regular students, etc.
But 2015… nope, it was just slow as hell. Resumes and academic editing were business as usual, but I didn’t get my hands on a single manuscript (for pay, I do have friends/colleagues who I trade work with, etc.). Resumes and academic editing may be the bread and butter, a basic foundation of my business in many ways, but a lot of the students I have worked with have gone on, used my services the entire time they were in their respective programs and have since graduated.
I need fresh blood! I need to get my name out there! I need to find a way to bring in new customers. And that means I have to do all this stuff I don’t want to do, hate doing, and (in my humble opinion) suck at. That would be marketing, self-promotion, networking, etc.
I am a writer. For those people who don’t have friends who are writers – I am an introvert to the extreme. I would be very happy being a shut-in. I feel socially awkward, all of the time. Meeting people is draining. And even though other people rave about my writing and it sometimes garners a lot of positive attention, I feel like everything I do just isn’t good enough. Because real writers are not arrogant, but crippled by an emotional combination of perfectionism, insecurity and failure. Many may not consider my writing bad, but I always do. Many people tell me to submit an essay or short story, and I don’t think it’s ready yet. That is the life of a writer (though one I have been combating for the last few months and I have actually started to submit stuff – yay for that).
I’m not one to go on about how wonderful I am. I don’t want to use my Facebook feed to say, “send work my way!” or “Like my page on Facebook, pretty, pretty please!” and we’re talking about an audience (my friends list) that I know personally and like, and in theory they like me too. Wow.
And as far as marketing, it’s not that I dislike it, I just don’t really know what to do. I know how to write the content and I know how to get people fired up with words, but when people hire me that’s all it’s for. To write something that will connect. But the campaigning, where to put something and when, and some kind of action plan – yeah I have no idea, which is why I don’t offer those kinds of services.
But I have to figure things out, and fast! Because I want it to be like it was a few years ago. I want to be busy, maybe not as busy as 60+ hour weeks, but I would love 20-40 hour weeks where I do actual work that I get paid to do. (And I’m only saying less than forty is okay, so I can focus on writing and getting published and landing that ridiculous book deal… eventually.) I want to compete with my husband to be the breadwinner. (My husband, Roy, is traditional and believes he should be the breadwinner whereas I have always loved being the breadwinner but having my husband be together and successful as well, just a notch below me. I don’t know if this is my pride or independence or caregiver aspects of my personality. I would say it could be my competitive streak, except I want him to do really well too and if we tie and both do well – even better! So I’m not sure it’s a competition thing, because while I always play fair, when it’s about competing, I don’t want to tie. I want to win! 😛
I want to make enough to just not pay the bills and stay afloat but to put money away and save for our future (because kids are flipping expensive).
My needs are simple; I’m not looking to be rich. If that was the goal, I would have listened to EVERYONE and been a lawyer, because I would rock that (says all of my friends, even the ones who are actually successful lawyers). But instead I opted to work with my passions. I love reading and writing. I’m a hopeless book nerd and a writer that sees writing as a sacred thing – a state of being, a calling. And when I’m working, I still get to be the hopeless book nerd and neurotic and passionate writer. I don’t want to have to give up those hats. But I also need to really WORK this 2016. I need to get back to how I was doing in those early years.
So I guess I will do what I hate like self-promotion (I’m really going to try!) and also try to network as best I can. I’ll try to revamp my website and be active on business social media platforms (I really need to be better about this). And I’m going to try and take a crash course in the best way to market myself and my business so that I can get to where I want to be.
Early on I picked a slogan that I found myself saying, breathing and believing, “Think of where you want to go and we’ll take you further!” Well now I need to do that for me. I need to take myself to the moon and back. Because that’s what I want and when I’m happiest. When I’m busy and working and helping people succeed. I want to get back to that.
So here is to 2016 being a wonderful, productive, BUSY year for all of those who want it to be so, including ME!!!