Setting Up a Writing Business

Maybe you already have a business going or are just about to start one. No matter where you are on your journey, I’m writing to you.

I’m writing because I want to share more of my process and steps in an effort to make something a little bit easier on you. If there’s something that wasn’t covered in this article, let me know in the comments.

I’ll work up an updated version that has the information you are looking for included in it. That way we are all growing together.

In this article, I’m going to go over what I did to set up my writing business. I won’t go into the real nitty gritty technical stuff like setting up a business account and all that fun financial jazz. What we’ll be focusing on is the internal workings of the business, where I find clients and assignments, and how you can implement this too.

Internal Workings

When I first started out—hell, even before I first started out, I focused on learning from the people who were doing what I wanted to do.

That is a common piece of advice. Where I am going to push things further to help you actually start seeing a clearer way to your business goals and dreams is to anazlyze and watch those that are slightly above where you want to be.

This is a two part process because you have to figure out where and who you want to be in your career. Don’t rush this process. Listen to yourself and find a niche that feels like you can work in it for sometime without losing steam or passion.

Figure out how and where they are doing business. Who are their clients? Where are they publishing? Who are their fans? That last question is a big one because they could and should be your fans too if you are writing in the same niche as the person you are analyzing.

Once I had a good idea of where the writers I was analyzing were writing, I started reading those publications and finding new writers and new publications that fit inside my niche. People who have come to me for advice in getting a writing business going know that this took up a of couple years.

While I read and found new writers and publications, I also took notes and tried my hand at writing mock pieces for those places to try and get the voice and feel of what they published.

Do this. Write spec articles for the places and clients you want to work with. You can include these in your portfolio so that when you start reaching out to other clients and publications you can send these along so that they know you are serious and have a sense of what it takes to complete projects.

Finding Clients

In the previous section, I touched base a bit on how I go about finding clients and publications in my niche. But besides following a reading trail of all my favorite writers, I also actively search them out.

There’s the Writer’s Digest Market book that they publish every year. In previous years, you were able to get an online membership and be able to access the same info but online. There is a switch over in companies happening that has this on hold for the time being. Expect that there will be a hold up to the next year printing as well because they are already behind on when they normally drop their yearly tomb on markets.

I highly suggest you grab a copy of the most recent book and go through its pages to make a list of publications within your niche and what they pay.

If you want to be a nonfiction writer with a byline in publications that pay you, this is how you go about it. If you want to be a fiction writer with stories in places, the process is similar except you’d aim for the fiction publications that publish the type of stories you write.

If you want to do the type of writing like ghost writing or game writing or one of the other more specialized writing fields, use the techniques from the first section and learn the steps that they took. Also, reach out to those creators that you find and ask them for pointers. Many love to help out newcomers in the field.

Sites like Upwork and Fiverr are given a lot of bad press, but I have had success on those sites. I have also worked for pennies and been some of the horror stories on that site. It’s a mixed bag but if you have the time to devote to searching out the gems on Upwork, you’ll have success finding reliable well paying work.

To get any traction with Fiverr, I suggest building a bit of a network and sharing your work on there so that they can share what you are doing. A lot of times you’ll get clients from distant relations in your network. Once you start getting gigs and high ratings, more people will find your profile and gigs and you’ll be able to name your price and work on projects that you want to.

Moving Forward

Like I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this isn’t a one stop shop for how to start your business. Learn the techniques that I talk about and tweak them to suit you and your work so that you are producing and working at your best, not mine.

Next week, I’ll go over how to set up an editing business. It’ll dive into what I do to find work, how prepared for this line of work, and things that you can do to get started.


If you’d like more information about my process and how you can make it work for you, sign up for my craft newsletter and receive a free PDF of My Sustainable Writing Practice infograph.

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