Become a Full-Time Writer By Following These Strategies
1 out of every 100 people who try to do it becomes a full-time writer.
If you’re serious about making it, that fact shouldn’t scare you away from trying.
It didn’t scare me.
I came into the game with eyes wide open and no rose-colored glasses tinting my vision. A lot of the advice I’m about to give you derives from the attitude you need to have to become a full-time writer.
You need to have grit, tenacity, moxy.
I say this to you all in the kindest way possible. Most of the newbie writers I see are soft. They underestimate what it takes to succeed and they get a tummy ache when things don’t go their way.
If you’re not willing to go through the ups and downs of the game, you’re not going to make it.
However, if you get a few things right, your odds of making it full-time are pretty much one hundred percent.
You Have to Pay Your Dues
Society, in general, has forgotten the merits of paying your dues.
Nobody wants to take unpaid internships to learn skills from a mentor. Everyone demands a wage instead of earning one. They don’t want to go the extra mile at a job that isn’t their dream job, yet expect to suddenly become responsible once they do find that dream job.
Doesn’t work that way.
It especially doesn’t work that way in the writing world.
Take Medium, which pays you directly for your words. I love that this opportunity has become available, but it also created a toxic mindset with new writers who think they’re supposed to earn money right away.
If the beginning, your reward for doing the work is the chance to do it again the next day, the day after that, and every single day after until it works.
I practiced my craft for the sake of practicing my craft, for free, with zero expectations aside from the chance to do it again. I didn’t care about the money, which is why I made so much of it on the back-end.
You Have to Master Platforms
There were no Medium courses available when I first started writing. I observed what others were doing well on the platform and reverse engineered their techniques.
New writers struggle with the process of reverse engineering strategies that work. They practice blindly. And when they don’t get the results they want, they blame the platform instead of their lack of understanding. If you want to be successful on a platform, you should spend as much, if not more, time observing the platform as you do writing on it.
I read top articles on Medium daily. Often, I take notes on what works well and what doesn’t. I monitor which publications have thriving articles. I look at the pictures writers use on their posts and the way they format them. I study their headlines, intros, conclusions, and hooks.
You likely just publish whatever you want and go about your day without ever trying to get a deep understanding, don’t you?
It’s cool. I’m not here to beat you up. I’m here to inspire you to change the way you work. Open your eyes. If something you’re doing isn’t working, you need to look within.
You Have to Play the Long Game
About a year or so into writing, I decided I’d never quit. I knew it, in my bones.
Didn’t matter if it took ten years, I was going to do it.
Alex Hormozi has a saying:
If you won’t do it for a decade, don’t do it for a day.
Like I said, with all kindness and sincerity, you guys are soft.
It baffles me how often I see new writers complain who’ve done so little writing for such a short amount of time.
Here are some hard and fast guidelines to win:
- Write daily for 90 days straight without fail to escape the ‘newbie abyss’
- In 12 months, you will no longer suck at writing and have a decent voice
- In 2-5 years, you can build a six-figure writing business
I’ve given you the timelines.
If you stick to them you’ll be fine.
You Have to Hit Publish Button
“I want to put my work out there, but I’m afraid to hit publish.”
I want you to think about this deeply.
How are you possibly going to build a writing career if no one sees your writing?
Stop collecting drafts. Stop trying to perfect your work. Hit the damn button. Then hit it again, and again, and again. I credit naivete to my success. I didn’t know how much I sucked so I had no fear of publishing. I just did it, typos and all. I didn’t give a damn.
Don’t try to write the end all be all essay. Take a small piece of wisdom and publish it. Don’t write draft after draft after draft and constantly refine all of them. Pick one idea, write it from start to finish, then work on the next idea.
It’s your portfolio that will compound over time.
I can’t tell you how to hit publish other than to tell you to just do it. Your ideas will never be perfect or complete and that’s okay.
You Have to be Brave
If you can’t get over what others think of you, just give up.
People will talk shit.
People will call you names.
Personally, I just never thought the opinions of losers were worth sacrificing my dream. And that’s what naysayers and trolls are. Total losers who have nothing better to do than bring other people down. These people are pitiful. They’re hurting. They can’t face their own demons so they tried to create them inside of you.
I’ve been attacked online more times than I can count. But at the end of the day, I’m going to keep doing what I love and winning while they sit on the sidelines. I’m not afraid of random people on a computer screen because it’s foolish to be afraid of them.
I don’t have some comforting or coddling message for you here.
Just ignore them…
You Have to Learn Marketing and Sales
Your fear of sales comes from your fear of people.
When you try to promote your work, some people will call you a snake-oil salesman. If you use marketing hooks and write clever headlines, you will be accused of click-bait.
You get to decide which type of writer you want to be — a starving artist or a highly paid writer. I don’t seek to impress stuffy journalists and literary magazines. I aim to impress my audience.
If you want to build an audience, you have to package your words the right way. And you don’t have to write listicles to do it either. You will have to learn how to persuade people to read your work.
- Learning to write copy with strong calls to action to people join your email list
- Writing clever titles for your blog posts, books, landing pages, and more
- Promoting your work aggressively. I sent 10 times the amount of emails to promote my second book than the first and it sold 10 times as many copies.
- Studying marketing and persuasion. Here are some great books you can read to start.
- Understanding the psychology of your readers
You Have to Find Your Ideal Readers and Build Your Tribe
If you don’t know who you’re writing for, your writing won’t resonate with anyone. I make my students create a reader avatar where they vividly describe the person they’re writing for:
- What are their fears and frustrations?
- What are their hopes and aspirations?
- Where do they hang out online?
- What kind of person do they want to become?
- Do they want to be inspired, entertained, educated, or all three?
When I write a new book, I read all of the reviews of similar books to see what they like and dislike. I read blog post comments and copy and paste them into documents to use for later.
How do you think I achieve the effect where it feels like I’m reading your mind?
You need to find a niche and focus on it.
Then, you build a tribe. Your tribe is the in-group. Your tribe has a common enemy to defeat. Instead of just building an audience, you focus on creating a movement. You speak to your tribe with conviction, which pisses naysayers off but makes them love you and become die-hard and loyal readers.
You Need to Commit to a Path
Get one platform to work first instead of trying to do them all at once. Pick one way to monetize your writing and master it before you build new income streams. Take one online course and actually finish it before you jump to the next one.
You guys are all over the place.
You have a Medium blog, a Substack, a LinkedIn, a Twitter, and they all have mediocre writing.
You’re in 12 different online courses, none of which you’ve completed and executed fully.
You have 97 different gurus with contradictory advice in your ear instead of just picking one and seeing their advice all the way through.
You’re playing musical chairs with monetization techniques, which means you’re not making good money on any of them.
I write on multiple platforms, but I built the foundation of my entire writing business with Medium and my email list.
I sell one online course.
I’ve redone the sales page for the course four times. I’ve redone the funnels. I’m refining the strategies for building an audience and having them go through that singular path.
You can pivot over time, but you need to lay the foundation.
The Final Word
All of this circles back to the main point.
Pick your head up. Do the work. Just be patient and consistent.
Building a writing career isn’t that daunting if you just take it one day at a time and focus on the present moment.
I started writing eight years ago and the time flew by because I just worked on my writing for an hour or two per day without quitting. Gradual progress becomes explosive growth.
I remember how it feels to be at square one. You feel like it’s just too distant of a dream. There’s so much work to do. You can’t imagine how you can possibly amass all these followers, subscribers, and dollars.
Don’t worry about all that.
Just close this article, craft an idea for a post, write it, publish it, and then do it again tomorrow.
No need to think any further than there.