A wise person once said, that if you don’t know what you’re aiming for, you will hit it every time. I know people who have enticing dreams of becoming a recognised author. However, few of them fully actualise their desires. More often than not, it’s because life gets in the way. To combat that, it pays to devise a killer plan of action!
A business plan is a dream map: and every writer needs one if you earnestly want to be a success. The benefits of a plan are boundless. It will enable you to manage your time; keep track of expenses so they don’t go leaping out of hand; and make you think of strategies! It enables you to get on with your writing, not fumble around, wondering why you are achieving so little. It doesn’t have to be grandiose or complicated. It’s a plan that suits what you want to do.
If you don’t think you need a plan, consider these points. If you don’t know the answers, you need a plan!
- How many hours do I routinely dedicate to my writing, it’s paperwork and it’s promotion per week?
- How many words, articles or blog posts do I need to write per month to achieve success?
- What additional tools do I need to promote my work, such as a blog, social networking, SEO and pay-per-click advertising?
- What costs am I already paying and not keeping track of? For example, Triberr bones, blog themes, stationary, printer cartridges, Internet costs, power, software etc.
- How much money do I want to make and how much do I need to make to cover costs?
- How often do I need to look for and nurture new promotion / writing opportunities? Where do I look?
- How genuinely effective is my social networking? (Measure your statistics in terms of blog post hits from each media, re-pins, shares, re-tweets etc. and see what is actually working and what is genuine time wasting.)
- What is my unique angle in the marketplace?
- How do I track sales, hits and other data from my publishers, Kindle, iBooks, Lulu or whatever systems I use?
- What are all my options for electronic payment systems and how am I keeping track of sales in book-keeping? How do I determine how much to give away? How will this affect my income?
- What is my timetable for each stage of the writing, editing and publishing process?
- How do I track my success, both financially and in terms of the effort invested?
Some of those questions may seem scary. However, they can have simple strategies as answers. For example. I run my writing and teaching as a registered business. I have a budget per month, plus I check it against my varying income every two weeks, to ensure I don’t overspend where I can’t afford to. I know my legal requirements. I know how much room there is financially to expand my advertising.
I also have a set time commitment per week. I know my audience and only follow other writers on social media. I make room for days where I can focus on writing and I stay offline. My blog posts are limited to topics which fit my writing and teaching interests. I blog at least a month ahead, to ensure I don’t push out ‘anything’ posts, as I am short on time. I limit myself to two blog entries a week and I keep a calendar of my posts so I can plan. I automate blog post promotion as much as possible. In the remaining time, I work on my e-books and course development. When I am booked, I am in the community teaching.
My formal business plan is a simple one page document, which reads more like a to-do list. I am not running a fortune five hundred company! I just need to know what I am doing this week, whether or not it has worked and what I am doing to carry on growing. It’s not overwhelming or a burden. If you would like to read more formal posts on business plans for writers, please visit the links below. Remember the advice I was given when I first started in small business in the 1990s: You don’t plan to fail, but if you don’t plan, you will fail.
Writers Write: Successful Authors Write A Business Plan by Deborah Riley-Magnus: http://rileymagnus.wordpress.com/2009/10/13/writers-write-successful-authors-write-a-business-plan/
Poewar Writer’s Resource Centre: http://poewar.com/business-plans-for-writers/
Writing World.com: http://www.writing-world.com/rights/plan.shtml
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