007: Three Simple Steps to Starting a Writing Career [Podcast]

You see it when you close your eyes. A log cabin on the shore of a lake, the forest rising high on the mountains all around you. Just you and your trusty Underwood.

(OK, you can keep the MacBook.)

Photo credit: David Goulart via CC
Photo credit: David Goulart via cc

If you’re holding down a day job, fitting writing into the cracks and crevices of your life, it’s easy to dream of making a dramatic change. It’s even easier to think you need to.

But the truth is, you don’t have to abandon everything to build a career as a writer.

In this episode of the podcast, we tackle three key questions from reader Arlen Miller submitted through my Facebook page.

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The three simple steps to a writing career

Arlen jumps to the good stuff early when he asks:

What are the bare basics for launching a writing career?

I get asked this question a lot. And the answer is simple, but it’s not easy.

It starts with the art, but it overlaps with the business. And before you start crying “I just wanna do my art,” those things are not in conflict. Because all a business is, is helping people.

The business side of your art is helping by providing value — whether it’s entertainment or inspiration or education or whatever — and allowing people to compensate you for that value.

The three basics:

  • Build your craft.
  • Build your brand.
  • Build your business.

We don’t make movies to make money, we make money so we can make more movies.
– Walt Disney

So who are we helping?

Arlen then takes us a step further, asking:

What are the keys to engagement with your audience?

Engaging your audience is really about building a community, starting with your current relationships.

You have people in your life who care about what you’re doing. By connecting with them in ways that serve them well, you can leverage those relationships to reach more people and get your work the attention it deserves.

Simply focus on growing to reach:

  • Friends
  • Fans
  • Patrons

Friends and fans aren’t hard to connect with. It just takes time.

But patrons?

They are mentors. Friends who have influence. Building relationships with these people is hard, but worth the effort. Show them your teachable spirit — prove that you’ll take their advice and apply it. Show them you’re worth investing in.

There’s nothing new under the sun

Then Arlen asks about one of the most common fears new writers share:

What about the bane of being a copycat?

I’m not sure this is a bad thing. It’s inevitable, really. So embrace it.

Some of the greatest artists and authors, people whose work is timeless and revered, started by literally copying the classics. Painters traced and copied paintings to learn. Writers typed out pages of classic books to get the rhythm of the language.

Ultimately, it’s impossible to be original, yet we still see work we find interesting and original. Because each artist is unique.

You are unique.

And when all your various influences come together, they transcend what you’re trying to do and combine the inspiration into something fresh.

So, now what?

Don’t over-think this. It’s hard work, but it’s not complicated to build a career as a writer:

  • Grow as an artist and a business person
  • Serve your friends, fans, and patrons
  • Don’t worry about being unique, because you already are.

I’m working to apply all this to growing the community around this podcast. And I’d love for you to leave an honest review. I want to know what you think.

You can also copy and paste this URL into the podcast player of your choice: https://feeds.feedburner.com/ThePortfolioLifeJeffGoins

Also, if you have any questions for future episodes like this one, let me know (just shoot an email to jeff at goinswriter dot com).

Lastly, I want to hear about the community you’re building. Leave a comment below. And if you’re enjoying the podcast, please tweet about it or share it with your friends on Facebook.

How is this podcast helping you move forward? Share in the comments.