During the California gold rush in 1849, thousands of people looking to get rich headed to the mines. When they got there, many found they needed mining pans, picks, shovels and other supplies.
Most of the miners didn’t make money and went home broke and penniless. The only ones who were guaranteed to fill their pockets with gold? The mercantile owners who sold the mining pans, picks shovels and other supplies.
Learning to be a successful writer is kind of like being a gold miner back then. Most writers won’t make a ton of money with their writing. The people who do make the money are the ones who sell the endless ebooks and online courses that tell people how to—wait for it—make money with their writing.
In the interest of freedom of expression, mom, apple pie and country, I’m going to offer you a few tips—free—on how to kill your writing career. Relax and enjoy.
Just call me a contrarian.
Career Killer #1: Focus quickly and narrowly
One of the things that every ebook writing expert says is “write on what you love.” Sure, great idea. Suppose you are a fanatic about red, white and blue butterflies with Occidental eyes. Fill up every blog post you can think of with the care, feeding and breeding about these rare beasts on two gossamer wings.
If you run out of ideas for your own blog, then take your grand idea on the road. Start sending out pitches and query letters. Be sure to breathlessly tell every editor you can find about the red, white and blue butterflies, with Occidental eyes.
Don’t worry if you don’t have editors tripping all over themselves to publish your work and throw big money at you for the privilege of publishing it.
What do editors know anyway?
Career Killer #2: Refuse to learn new skills
Don’t waste time finding out what tools successful writers are using. They have more time than you do anyway. They’re wasting it doing online research and staying up to date with the latest technology when they could be writing.
If Wordperfect was good enough as a writing tool back in the 80s, it’s good enough today.
Those websites that promise to polish your writing, check your spelling and straighten out the poor grammar? Bleh. Real writers already know all those things and don’t need to have someone—or something—looking over their shoulder helping to proofread.
Career Killer #3: Show ’em you’re unprofessional
If you want to increase the chances of failing as a professional writer, don’t put up a website. If you REALLY want to fail, make sure you have a website built with Frontpage. Nothing screams unprofessional like spinning buttons, cheesy 3D attempts and flashing lights. Make your site stand out from the classy designs.
Be certain that your email address is something like Hot4You@Yahoo.com—that will really scream “unprofessional” and help send your writing career down the toilet.
Stay away from LinkedIn. But, if you insist on having a LinkedIn profile, then post that image in your tiniest bathing suit with all the cellulite hanging out. Your dimpled thighs and butt are sure to catch the eye of the editor who wants to publish your dynamite article which is sure to be turned into next year’s hottest movie.
And speaking of LinkedIn, be sure your current job title says, “Writer, mechanic, hair stylist and mommy to four.” You’ll be guaranteed that anyone who wants to hire someone will bring you on board for everything but a writer. At least you’ll stand out—for all the wrong reasons.
Career Killer #4: Waste time on the wrong opportunities
So what if you’ve been writing for content mills that pay a penny a word? Who cares that you accepted that large upfront fee from the client who dumped the work on you before you had a chance to realize that you were writing for—a penny a word?
THOSE are the opportunities you want. If it takes you two-hours to write a 500 word piece, why waste time and get paid a couple hundred dollars. For the same amount of work, you could easily get paid $5! What a deal!
Scour the ads on Craigslist. Pay close attention to the ads that want you to send a sample piece. These are the winners! They’re the hidden nuggets of value. Craigslist Ads have launched hundreds of careers—let them launch yours as well.
Career Killer #6: Don’t worry about networking
Why network? Writing is a solo event. There’s not a party going on around you as you sit in your kitchen wearing your kitty-kat pajamas and downing bottomless cups of coffee. Networking is for people who actually have to leave the house to work.
On the subject of networking, don’t look for opportunities to guest post. Don’t comment on any blogs other than your own. Experienced writers will tell you that being successful is a numbers game; the more people you get in front of, the better your name recognition will be. What do they know?
Social networking? Forget about it. You’re well on your way to the next great novel with your writing. People will find you simply because of the powerful vibes and warm energies you give off. You do not need Facebook, Twitter or Google+—those networks are for losers. You’re not a loser—you’re a HERO!
Career Killer #6: Write strictly for the art
Don’t worry about the business side of writing. Just write for the art of writing. Without having to worry about marketing, cold calls and budgeting, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to do nothing but devote yourself to your chosen form of self-expression.
Stop fretting about marketing. The pros know “content is king” and since you write great stuff, the masses will find your content.
Career Killer #7: Wait for the work
Don’t fret about sending out quality letters and pitches. Don’t worry yourself about being rejected by editors. Sit back and wait on them to find you. After all, you’re meant to write. That terrific article that you wrote—and is still sitting on your hard drive—will somehow mysteriously attract the Bob Woodwards and they’ll come down the garden path with thousands of bucks in their pocket—all for YOU!
Career Killer #8: Celebrate the laziness
Be grateful for the small jobs, they give you the opportunity to revel in laziness. When that editor wants a 500 word piece, don’t sweat the small stuff. There’s no reason you should spend the same amount of energy on a small piece that you will a larger piece. Make sure to keep a blasé attitude about your work—it will definitely show up in the results.
About the author:
Jerry Nelson is an internationally known freelance writer and photographer. Busy on assignment in South America, Jerry is always interested in discussing future work opportunities. Jerry hopes every aspiring writer follows the suggestions which will kill a writing career—he hates competition. Follow Jerry on Twitter and visit his website, JerryNelson.org